Description: This class provides a theoretical framework and clinical tools for therapists working with relationship structures that are undergoing some sort of a transition.  A “transition” in this case means, especially when it comes to sex therapy, some new item of information that is introduced into the relationship that also serves to destabilize that relationship. Some common examples include the following– one partner introduces a desire for a specific kind of sex (or fetish) that is found to be repulsive or offensive to the other partner; one partner shares a desire to open up the relationship and explore some form of non-monogamy; or, and this was more common in the past, but still happens frequently enough, one partner shares information about his or her orientation or preferred gender that is at odds with the other partner’s prior knowledge or understanding.

Starting with core systemic considerations such as attachment and differentiation, and then working through destructive communication patterns, this class then provides specific interventions for the couples/sex therapist to help the relationship bridge impasses and rigid narratives and create a collaborative alliance to define or redefine the relationship in new ways. Special consideration will be placed on differentiating between the varieties of alternative relational structures and understanding specific challenges that arise within each specific structure.

Learning Objectives:

  • Explain the various stages of partner differentiation
  • Discuss attachment styles and how they play out in relationships
  • Compare 2 common types of sexual desire
  • List 8 key components of peak sexual experiences
  • Utilize 3 specific interventions to help partners integrate new sexual patterns into their relationship
  • Describe at least 3 types of common consensually nonmonogamous types of relationships and differentiate between their unique needs
  • Describe at least 3 types of power dynamics commonly found in relationships and differentiate unique challenges that each may encounter

Activity Schedule:

9-9:45 General Considerations: types of individual development within relational system (Bader/Pearson), differentiation, attachment, diagnostic considerations, personality disorders, abuse (Didactic, Specific Clinical Interventions, Case Discussions)

9:45-10:15 Communication Problems: conflict/avoidance, highly reactive partners, pursuer/distance dynamics (Didactic, Specific Clinical Interventions, Case Discussions).

10:15-11:00 Desire Discrepancy: reasons for discrepancy, types of desire, research on peak experiences, what makes sex good (Didactic, Specific Clinical Interventions, Case Discussions)

11:00-12:00 Relationship Transitions: coming out issues, transitioning into CNM, mixed orientation relationships (Didactic, Specific Clinical Interventions, Case Discussions)

12:00-1:00 Alternative Relationships: Poly (types of), swingers, CNM, M/s, D/s (Didactic, Specific Clinical Interventions, Case Discussions)