Training about sex, sexuality and gender
Do you need to train your students, staff or members about potentially challenging topics, but can't find anyone to do it? We can help!
We provide training on a number of sex-related topics for educators, health professionals and journalists. We also offer training to more general audiences (e.g. workplaces, clinics, and community groups), and can provide interactive workshops for interested members of the general public. Please see the list below:
SEX, SEXUALITY AND GENDER
APT - Affect Phobia Therapy
An introduction to working with couples (half to whole day)
Basic sex therapy (half to whole day) / Introduction to psychosexual therapy
Training other therapists
We are all very much aware of the lack of attention generally given to sex, sexuality and gender during mainstream psychotherapy trainings. There can be awkwardness around these subjects, and the outcome of is that clients don't know whether they are allowed to bring sexual issues into the therapy room. If you haven't prepared your students properly, this could impede their work across the board, and at worst discourage clients from minority groups who are most in need of support. We can do this within training organisations, or as a CPD provider for your members.
We can also advise you on integrating learning about sex, gender and sexuality into your existing training modules.
The cost is usually £500 for half a day and £1000 for a whole day, but discounts and free trainings are possible for non-profit and charitable organisations.
More detail about some of our trainings:
Introduction to sex and sexuality
This workshop will outline a range of theoretical frameworks for working with sex and sexuality and show how these have evolved from the work of Freud to the present day. Participants will also explore the reality of sexual practice in the 21st century. Participants will consider how their own attitudes to talking about sex and sexuality might impact upon their client work. There will be an opportunity to consider how the issue of sex has been addressed in participants’ practice to date and to identify any potential blind-spots. This module will also introduce a range of tools for engaging with clients on issues of sexuality. (Created by Meg-John Barker.)
Working across gender and sexual diversity
Drawing on the recent book Sexuality and gender for mental health professionals: A practical guide (Richards & Barker, 2013), this day provides a basic outline of good practice when working with issues of gender and sexuality. Attendees will be encouraged to reflect upon their own ideas and assumptions about gender and sexuality, and those implicit in their therapeutic approaches. We will consider various ways of understanding sexuality and gender, and their implications for therapy across client groups. Specifically we will focus on the issues which can be faced by those who fit into normative genders, sexualities and relationship structures, as well as for those who are positioned outside the norm. We will address the main client groups of which professionals should have a working knowledge, which may be less familiar at present, covering key language and practices. Attendees will have the opportunity to explore case studies and their own experiences of working with clients across different genders and sexualities. (Created by Meg-John Barker.)
Introduction to Gay Leather(sexuality)
Combining a presentation of original field research data, together with transpersonal psychotherapeutic techniques, guided visualisations, historical material and fictional/non-fictional narrative stories, Nick will guide you, theoretically and experientally, through the lived experience of some gay men who explore their sexuality through fetish, BDSM, kink or Leather. Though specifically a gay, masculine, journey, the knowledge and wisdom shared from gay male ancestry is relevant to anybody, regardless of where you are along your own sexual and gender identity spectrum. The Workshop offers a meaningful and coherent model for viewing sexuality and relationships other than the ‘normative’ model of heterosexual monogamy. (Created by Nick Field.)
The objectives of this session are:
To reflect upon our own ideas and assumptions about (bi)sexuality and how this might influence our practice.
To understand the range of experiences and identities under the bisexual umbrella.
To consider how societal bisexual invisibility and biphobia impact on bisexual people and others who are attracted to more than one gender.
To overview the kinds of issues which might bring bisexual people to seek help/support, and potential barriers to seeking support.
To determine good practice with bisexual people. (Created by Meg-John Barker.)
BDSM (bondage and discipline, domination and submission and sadomasochism) is perhaps the most demonized form of consensual sexuality, still criminalized in the UK and pathologised as a ‘paraphilia’ in the DSM. Much training material for therapists and counsellors still perpetuates negative myths about BDSM practices despite lack of evidence for any link between such practices and psychological problems.
This workshop encourages participants to reflect on their own belief systems around BDSM. It examines the variety of ‘kinky’ practices, drawing on existential approaches to consider the multiple meanings these may have for clients. Common myths around BDSM are challenged and the most up-to-date research on BDSM presented. Attendees consider various case-studies to think about how they might work with kinky/BDSM clients, including those whose identity/practice is unrelated to their presenting problem, those who are concerned about their identity/practice, and those who regard their identity/practice as linked to the therapeutic experience. Relationships between BDSM and self-harming practices will also be explored. (Created by Meg-John Barker.)
Working across relationship diversity
This day will introduce the diversity of types of openly non-monogamous relationships which are found in the UK, focusing on the most common versions: swinging, open relationships and polyamory (having multiple relationships). These kinds of relationships will be situated in the current cultural context of shifting relationship rules which we will explore more broadly in terms of the impact that this has on our clients. Research will be introduced covering the motivations that people have for engaging in open non-monogamy, and we will outline the structures of relationship that are possible. We will then spend some time examining the kinds of contracts and arrangements that people put in place in openly non-monogamous relationships and what the aims of these are. We will also look at the language of non-monogamy which has developed in order for people to make sense of their relationships. Towards the end of the day we will look at the relationships that fall somewhere between monogamy and non-monogamy and begin to question whether this distinction is, indeed, a useful one. The possibility of monogamy continuua will be introduced as a useful basis for working with all clients around such issues. As well as thinking about how we might work with individuals and couples who are non-monogamous, we will explore the ways in which larger polyamorous groups might engage in therapy. (Created by Meg-John Barker.)
One of the most interesting recent developments in relation to gender experience are the increasing numbers of people identifying in some way outside of the gender binary, for example as bigender, pangender, genderqueer, gender neutral, androgynous, or simply non-binary. The experiences and identifications of such folk challenge the male/female binary, as well as heteronormativity more widely, given the assumptions around binary gender that are embedded within this. There are also, perhaps, challenges here to binaries around trans/cisgender and bio/social understandings of sex and gender. In this presentation I’ll explore the ways of being non-binary that are currently emerging, as well as some of the language which is developing to articulate those identities and experiences. (Created by Meg-John Barker.)
Working and living with Gay Male Sexuality, Kink/BSDM and Spirituality
Expanding on the Introduction to Gay Leather Workshop outlined above, Nick will guide you, theoretically and experientally, through the lived experience of gay men who explore their sexuality through fetish, BDSM, kink or Leather and offer up some suggestions for the possible implications around mental/physical and spiritual health. It offers useful guidance for people either living, or working with those living, alternative sexualities and relationships. Though specifically a gay, masculine, journey, the knowledge and wisdom shared from gay male ancestry is relevant to anybody, regardless of where you, or your clients, are along your/their own sexual and gender identity spectrum. (Created by Nick Field.)
Working with 'paraphilias'
This workshop will consider how we (as individuals, communities and therapists) understand sex and sexuality, particularly in terms of the divisions that are generally made between ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ sex. Participants will be introduced to different ways of conceptualising sex, considering how their own attitudes to talking about sex and sexuality might impact upon their client work. There will be an opportunity to consider how the issue of sex has been addressed in participants’ practice to date and to identify any potential blind-spots. This workshop will also introduce a range of tools for engaging with clients on issues of sexuality. This second half of the workshop will focus on the ‘paraphilias’ which are identified within DSM V and ICD 10 and assist the participants in exploring how they would engage with clients presenting with these issues. Participants will be introduced to the range of sexual practices in the 21st how to work with alternative sexual practices, such as BDSM and fetish behaviours, tackling issues such as consent and creativity in sex. (Created by Meg-John Barker.)
Working with sexual trauma
A vital component of resolving symptoms is through developing a supportive and compassionate therapeutic relationship that focuses on helping a patient face and experience uncomfortable and painful feelings related to their trauma. In this workshop, we’ll demonstrate how we apply findings from psychotherapy research in the treatment of trauma. Participants will learn what steps they can take to strengthen the therapeutic bond when using ‘exposure and desensitisation’ to help their patients reclaim their capacity to connect with loving feelings with themselves and others.
• Learn guiding principles when working with trauma
• Learn therapeutic techniques to assist patients in experiencing uncomfortable and painful feelings from the past
• Learn how to increase the bond while working with emotions
• Increase awareness of current research regarding affect exposures and the therapeutic alliance
• Learn how to cultivate the therapeutic alliance
Self care for professionals/academics/activists
This workshop is aimed at those of us whose work involves caring for others and/or trying to change the world. This includes therapists and other practitioners, activists or academics.
Whether we’re trying to address things on an individual level (by helping people who are impacted by the current social situation) or on a social level (by raising awareness and trying to change things), we all need to retreat every now and then, and to consider how we look after ourselves and get support.
Hopefully this workshop will be a form of self-care in itself, will enable participants to reflect on the ways in which they can build self-care into their lives, and will prompt an exploration into the links between caring for ourselves and for other people and the wider world.
The workshop will be divided into four parts. During the first session we will discuss why self-care is important in our lives, and how we currently engage with it, sharing examples of possible practice and our sense of how it relates to our work. In the second session we will try out various forms of self-care with a focus on tuning into ourselves, our thoughts and feelings, and our bodies. In the third session we will start to explore more outward focused forms of self-care, including reaching out to others, listening to each other, and community-building. During the final session we will return to the question of how self-care relates to our work, considering the possibility of developing compassionate networks, and thinking about the ways in which our treatment of ourselves, others, and the wider world are intertwined. (Created by Meg-John Barker.)
New Directions in Gender, Sexual and Relational Diversity: A Leathersex and Transpersonal Perspective for Therapeutic Training and Practice
Based on a more professional and clinical focus to the workshops on Leather(sexuality) described above, Nick will guide you, theoretically and experientally, through the lived experience of gay men who explore their sexuality through fetish, BDSM, kink or Leather. Using the lens of the Transpersonal Psychotherapeutic model of Psychosynthesis, Nick will offer up some suggestions for the possible clinical implications of working with GSRD clients, and in particular, gay men who explore their sexuality through Leather/kink/BDSM or alternative sexualities and relationships. (Created by Nick Field.)
Mindful sex and relationships
This course is designed for sexual and relationship therapists and other related practitioners who want to know more about mindfulness and the ways in which it might be useful for their work. It is open to people working from all different modalities and encourages discussion of how mindfulness might work with a variety of existing approaches to SRT (e.g. CBT, physiological, humanistic, systemic, psychodynamic).
The day will start with basic mindfulness techniques and definitions for those who are unfamiliar with these ideas. We will consider mindfulness as both a way of understanding suffering and as a set of practices which people can employ. We will explore how mindfulness can be something we encourage our clients to do, something that we ourselves practice or bring into dialogue with our current approach, and a way of understanding the counselling relationship.
Following these introductions we will turn to sex therapy and consider how mindfulness would understand common sexual difficulties, and how mindfulness practices may be useful in the arena of sex and sexuality. Particularly we will explore the mindfulness ideas of craving and letting go in relation to sexual compulsions, and the mindful focus on being present for goal-oriented sex and sexual pain.
After this we will consider mindfulness in relationship therapy. We will explore how mindfulness teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chödrön and John Welwood understand relationship struggles, locating them in a grasping approach to others, to relationships, and to ourselves. We will think about how such understandings might be useful in relationship therapy, and explore some possibilities for mindfulness practice individually (e.g. Tonglen practice) and in relationships (e.g. Gregory Kramer’s Insight Dialogue). (Created by Meg-John Barker.)
Basic sex therapy
This unit explores the sexual dysfunctions which are identified within DSM V and ICD 10 and assists the participants in exploring how they would engage with clients presenting with these issues. It will consider how pharmacological developments impact upon the psychological treatment of sexual dysfunction. Participants will be encouraged to consider when referrals to specialists, including psychosexual therapists, would be appropriate. Finally, participants will consider how to work with alternative sexual practices, such as BDSM and fetish behaviours. (Created by Meg-John Barker.)
This workshop explores the ways in which academics, activists, or therapists can use blogging and social media to engage publicly and to enhance their work, drawing on examples of Meg’s work (impact and public engagement). Can be tailored to different groups. (Created by Meg-John Barker.)