The Existential Importance of the Penis: A Guide to Understanding the Sexuality of Men (4CE Hours, 2023)

$140.00

4 CE Hours

Presenter: Dan Watter, Ed.D.

Recorded workshop available via video recording.

AASECT Category:

Human Sexuality Education, Section I

The essential thesis of this workshop is that the penis is a conduit for male emotion, and thus regulates the closeness/distance that men will allow themselves to experience in intimate relationships.  While men often pay a great deal of conscious attention to their penis, the unconscious messages our penis sends us can be much more profound and difficult to decipher.  In this way, the penis “speaks” for many men who are dealing with repressed, unacknowledged, or unexpressed emotions.  The penis is the means through which we are being alerted that we are in a situation that doesn’t feel safe, genuine, or secure.  In other words, a central tenet of this workshop is the notion that our unconscious will speak to us through our penis and self-protectively disrupt a sexual interaction due to some perceived danger or threat.  Existentially, we are being alerted to a situation that imperils or jeopardizes our literal or emotional existence.

Existential psychotherapy deals with people’s problems related to their existence.  That is, what it means to them to be alive, live meaningful lives, and have strong, connected relationships.  For many men, the penis is their path to living a life of such substance.  A fully functional penis is central to their sense of wholeness, desirability, belonging, and connection.  Many of the men who present for sex therapy with erectile difficulties will lament, “I feel like less of a man,” or “I feel so broken,” or “I feel so weak.”  To these men, their problematic erectile functioning wounds them at their core, and their feelings of vulnerability are palpable.  Talk to the men who are in relationships and cannot understand what their penis is saying to them when they consistently lose their erection just prior to penetration.  Observe the sense of humiliation, vulnerability, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, and loss of sense of self from the men who fear that their breakdown in penile functioning will result in their being unwanted by a partner and their resulting fears of loneliness, isolation, and impotence.  Psychiatrist Irvin Yalom, M.D. reminds us that sex is the vital life force, and, as such, often counters existential fears of death.  Many aging men who find they are unable to function sexually with an erect penis experience severe  bout of death-anxiety as they confront the reality that they are aging, and life is no longer a continuing spiral upward.

So, does this mean that men who are unable to have erect penises cannot enjoy sex or live a meaningful life?  Certainly not.  We know that sex and existence is about more than just the penis.  Men are perfectly capable of creating meaningful connections (sexual and otherwise), regardless of the manner in which their penis behaves.  However, the existential importance of the penis needs to be considered when helping these men find this new meaning in their lives and develop a new sense of self sexually.  Treatments that only target the symptom and neglect to explore the meaning of the symptom will often not serve these men (and/or their partners) well.  It is the aim of this book to help clinicians better understand the distress of the sexually compromised men they treat, and to assist these men in  finding a means of coping with unwanted penile changes.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Discuss the primary existential concerns that impact male sexual function;
  2. Describe the relationship between early childhood trauma, existential anxieties, and male sexual dysfunction;
  3. List 2 treatment strategies for assisting men deal with unwanted penile changes;
  4. Describe the existential psychotherapy approach to dealing with male sexual problems and concerns.

Activity Schedule:

9:00-9:30 Introduction and overview of the agenda 

9:30-10:30 The Penis Speaks 

10:30-11:45 Principles of Existential Sex Therapy 

11:45-12:45 Case Examples 

12:45-1:00 Conclusion/Wrap Up. 

About the Presenter:

Dr. Daniel N. Watter is a founding partner of the Morris Psychological Group, P.A. located in Parsippany, New Jersey.  His primary areas of practice focus on the treatment of individuals and couples experiencing sexual and/or relationship problems.

     Dr. Watter received his doctoral degree from New York University in 1985, and has also earned a post-graduate certificate in Medical Humanities  (with a concentration in healthcare ethics) from Drew University.  He is licensed by the State of New Jersey as both a psychologist and a marital and family therapist.  In addition, he is Board Certified in Sex Therapy by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), and the American Board of Sexology (ACS), of which is also holds Fellowship status.  Dr. Watter is an AASECT certified sex therapy supervisor, and has been elected to Fellowship Status in the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH).

In addition to his private practice, Dr. Watter has held several faculty appointments.  He has served as an adjunct professor of Psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson, Drew, and Seton Hall Universities, a clinical instructor of OB/GYN and Women’s Health at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School, and a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine.  Dr. Watter is also a member of the medical staff of the Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey, and served on the Medical Center’s Ethics Committee.

Dr. Watter is a member of several professional organizations, and has been elected to leadership positions in many.  He has completed two terms on the New Jersey Psychological Association’s Ethics Committee where he spent two years as the Committee’s chairperson.  He has also served two terms as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR), where he previously served as Membership Officer.  Dr. Watter is also the former chair of the Diplomate Certification Committee for the American Association for Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT).  Currently, he is serving as the Immediate Past-President of SSTAR, as well as the Chair of the AASECT Ethics Advisory Committee.  In 2009, Dr. Watter was appointed by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine to the State Board of Psychological Examiners.  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie reappointed him in 2017.

A frequent lecturer at professional meetings throughout North America, Dr. Watter is also the author of several professional articles and book chapters on topics such as sexual function and dysfunction, and ethics in healthcare practice. He is currently writing a textbook on Humanistic/Existential Approaches to Sex Therapy Practice.

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MSTI is an approved CE organizational provider for APA, AASECT, ASWB. Modern Sex Therapy Institutes is part of the Advanced Mental Health Training Institute.
The Advanced Mental Health Training Institute has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No.6901. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified.
The Advanced Mental Health Training Institute is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.
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