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Description: This seminar will provide an overview of the phenomenon of sexual fluidity, which describes the capacity for individuals to experience change in their same-sex and other-sex attractions over time, often as a result of entering and exiting specific relationships, or undergoing changes in their situational contexts. Sexual fluidity presents important challenges to previous views of sexual orientation and its expression over the life course, and individuals with fluid sexual attractions often find themselves surprised and confused by their experiences. This seminar will present up-to-date research on the prevalence of sexual fluidity in men and women, as well as discussing the findings of qualitative research which reveals how sexual fluidity is experienced by different individuals. We will discuss the implications of sexual fluidity for some of the mental health issues facing LGBTQ individuals (family relationships, identity development, minority stress, stigma, parenting, relationships, spirituality) and will discuss different approaches to these challenges.
Learning Objectives: By the end of the seminar, participants will be able to
– define sexual fluidity
– describe how sexual fluidity manifests in men and women, based on contemporary research.
– discuss the social and environmental factors that might trigger sexual fluidity.
– apply research on sexual fluidity to their own therapeutic practice by analyzing the potential implications of sexual fluidity for the clinical issues faced by LGBTQ individuals, and planning for how to address these issues in their own work.
Activity schedule: The first hour will be devoted to reviewing quantitative and qualitative research on sexual fluidity and its manifestations in men and women of different sexual orientations. The second hour will be devoted to discussing the implications of sexual fluidity for different mental health issues faced by LGBTQ individuals. The third hour will involve an interactive discussion during which participants describe how to address these issues in their own practice, sharing experiences and best practices and developing strategies for the future.
Biography: Lisa M. Diamond is Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies at the University of Utah. She studies the expression of sexual attractions and sexual identity over the life course, and particularly the phenomenon of sexual fluidity, which describes the capacity for individuals to experience shifts in their pattern of same-sex and other-sex attractions over time. Her 2008 book, Sexual Fluidity, published by Harvard University Press, describes the changes and transformations that she has observed in the sexual attractions, behaviors, and identities of a sample of lesbian, bisexual, and “unlabeled” women that she has been following since 1995. Sexual Fluidity has been awarded the Distinguished Book Award from the American Psychological Association’s Society for the Study of Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgendered Issues. Dr. Diamond is co-editor of the APA Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology and is a fellow of two divisions of the APA. Dr. Diamond has published over 100 articles and book chapters, and has received awards for her work from the American Psychological Association, the American Association of University Women, the International Association for Relationship Research, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.