The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) offers a wide range of profession and educational events around the country, both at the national and state levels. The most famous is certainly their national convention, which was held in New Orleans this past weekend. Not only was I honored to attend and present there, but I also attended the Sexual Attitudes Re-Assessment (SAR) training as one of the last steps on my way to certification as a sexuality educator. I’m pleased to offer my review of both the conference and the SAR after the jump. I will tell you now, however, that you better believe that AASECT’s annual conferences have the BEST goody-bags and con give aways of any conference that I’ve attended!
The SAR was designed, as I understand it, to encourage sexuality educators/therapists in training to come to a deeper understanding of their own awareness, thoughts, exposure, and feelings regarding a wide range of gender and sexual diversity. This is primarily accomplished by carefully structured large and small group activities in which participants are exposed to explicit materials and then delve into the experience through careful thought and facilitated discussion, along with other forms of communication (such as writing activities). Yep, we get deep about watching dirty movies, and I assure you that it can yield essential and change-inducing results when done well! Thankfully our SAR WAS done well. I walked in fearing I might be bored. When you facilitate professionally and have been acting as a sexuality educator for years, that’s a natural fear around a training like this. I was pleasantly surprised by our facilitators (and my group!) in their ability to challenge and engage. While the majority of the crowd seemed to be therapists, it was a comfortable environment for educators and nurses as well, according to those I spoke to. Excellent job! I would recommend this experience to any interested people able to afford it, especially those working in related fields. At $450, plus hotel, flight and most meals, it is a serious chunk of change. But we did get 2 days of intense, high quality training with 5 (!) great facilitators for that price. Other SARs and other AASECT related trainings are available throughout the year and around the continent. Check out AASECT’s list – here.
And the conference itself? Well done! No conference is perfect and so I could dive into various minor concerns, but I must say that I was genuinely impressed. As always, this is a great group of people with original and interesting sessions spanning a wide array of sexuality topics. At points various vendors even popped in with free gear which I am currently working on reviewing as promptly as possible. Thanks to SportSheets International for some *really* fun promotional items that will be posted shortly, as well as Soul Source Enterprises with their beautiful and lovingly made vaginal dialator sets and the good folks at TantraPM from whom I got some fantastic videos, toys and books that will soon be reviewed here. And what about the people? Where else can you talk in person with the inspiring Candida Royalle about her female and couple-centric videos, toys and books; brush shoulders with Dr. Whipple of G-Spot fame; and chat with world famous sex book authors Lou Padget and Ian Kerner? Every bit as inspiring was time spent learning from Cory Silverberg and chatting Dr.Jenn (outside of the den).
Lastly I must compliment AASECT on choosing New Orleans as their location. Not only did it bring tourism dollars to the good people of NOLA, it also helped to spread awareness to a city that is both always recognized as a travel destination and always forgotten as part of a region still in great need of resources to continue their long struggle to recovery. Furthermore, my partner and I had a fantastic and safe time (without a car, I might add) exploring the shops, restaurants, cultural & historic sites that abound… not to mention Bourbon Street. I’m still deciding whether or not to publish venue reviews from there, although you all know I can’t resist doing my Yelp.com reviews. I tell will you at least this much, dear reader: I did not buy any of those beads.