Thursday, December 18, 2014

SEX DOC Receives A Nod (& a Wink) in the Wall Street Journal

SEX DOC was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal this Wednesday (Dec 17, 1014). Right there in the lower right corner sits an artist rendering of the personalized license plate that I spent a year and half fighting for with the state of Missouri. This nod was a part of the reporter's larger story on policing vanity plates. I even got a photo of me victoriously holding my plate last summer in the WSJ online link.

The accolades from family, friends and colleagues have been flooding in, followed by warms smiles for my 15 minutes of fame. However, the social worker in me has more to say than this little blurb allowed. The message of social (in)justice around sexuality is too vitally important to be lost in a slick sound bite.

For starters my quote in the WSJ, “I have enough patients who are dealing with shame around sexuality,” makes more sense in its entirety which was,  "... and I don't think the state of Missouri should be contributing to or promoting sexual shaming". Countering sexual shame is at the heart of my social justice work. It also plays a part in much of my work as a social worker both from a clinical and research perspective. The people that I see one on one in psychotherapy have issues that are exacerbated by a life exposed to toxic levels of sexual shame.

This is not unique to my clients. Society has dysfunctional relationship with sexuality - 'a don't ask don't tell' public policy steeped in our puritanical roots. Rather than seeing sexuality as a natural healthy part of human life, we banish it to the shadows. If people have an interest in sex we question their intent, we judge their morality or we mock it with jokes. Even the WSJ article's sub title makes a not so subtle connection that one must have a "dirty mind" to understand license plates referring to sex. Uhhhhh... NO you don't! Sex is NOT dirty!!!


But this goes to my point, the collective societal "wink" around sexuality is dangerous. Its dangerous because its not balanced. It keeps discussion around sexuality on the sidelines as if they don't merit a seat at the table. I believe that this secretive whispering of sexuality perpetuates an environment of sexual shame.

When working with clients, part of that work is reframing these dangerous societal messages that bombard us on a daily basis. As a certified sex therapist, I not only work with major sexual challenges but these insidious communal beliefs that sabotage a healthy sexual life. I help people along a journey to acknowledge and embrace sexuality as an inherent, natural part of the human experience. It is healthy and yes "NORMAL" to want connectivity, passion, physical closeness. Sexual desire, curiosity, fantasy and behavior are a part of being alive. Our sexuality is a human right. We are sexual from our first to our last breath.

From a social justice stand point, these seemingly innocuous "winks" --- such as referencing our sexuality as "dirty"  are really micro aggressions to keep us hostage. It creates a schism that surgically separates sexuality from the mainstream typical experience, casting it out to the netherworld of "other"... people who are immature, bad, naughty, dirty, immoral, sick, perverted, mentally ill. The list goes on. And even if we don't outright label a person guilty for committed the heinous crime of being sexual or thinking of sexuality, we hint at it. It can be difficult to reconcile an image of ourselves as good, just, moral and sexual. Where are the images of a person that is both?

This subtle attack on sexuality is as reprehensible as the malicious public attacks we endure through policies such as 'abstinence  only sexuality education', and 'don't-ask-don't-tell'. We begin to participate in our our own social control. We abandoned our rights to sexual knowledge and pleasure forsaking them over a misguided idea of purity.  We become prisoners of sexuality fear and guilt. Participating in keeping sexuality as a secret or something worthy of shame or the butt of jokes manufactures sex negativity. It helps to craft a society that does not have access to sexual health. It contributes to limiting quality sexual health knowledge. It supports a rape culture. It oppress groups and maintains sexuality for only a privileged few: men, able-bodied, heterosexual, white, married, fit, and young. Where does that leave the rest of us?

Sexual health is vital. It is legitimate. It is our right. We should embrace our sexuality and all the positive and pleasurable aspects of sexual health.  I propose that we must bring sexuality from marginalized conversations into acceptance as a legitimate human experience. My work continues and I hope it becomes yours too!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

TEACHABLE MOMENTS: A PARENTS ALLY IN NURTURING A CHILD’S CURIOSITY



Teachable Moment: Myths and Making Out

My 8 year old son burst into the house after a skate party one evening. He was up in arms about his friend who kept ignoring him at the skate rink. “All he did was play with the girls. I just wanted to race him and he kept ignoring me and just continued making out with a girl!” My husband and I locked eyes and snickered while my son continued on and on about this big make out session. Before reacting, I decided to clarify and asked my son “what did the making out look like?” His response, “I don’t know it was soooo weird. I don’t understand it. It was like he wasn’t himself. He kept saying silly things and doing silly things.” My husband immediately asked if there were parents watching. “There were parents there, but they didn’t pay attention.” As we continued to dissect the “making out” session we realized that what he was describing was flirting. His buddy was teasing and playing with another girl because he has a crush on her. My oldest daughter pipes in with all of her 11 years of infinite wisdom and says, “Making out and flirting are two very different things! You better be careful not to start a rumor!” We took a few minutes to talk about flirting in terms he would understand. We shared with him that sometimes people find another person pretty, handsome, or fun to be with so we often start to act a little funny, do things to be closer to them, or get that person’s attention. If we see our friends chasing after other girls and boys and teasing other girls; this might mean that they like this person in a romantic way. Being jealous or getting upset with our friends when they pay more attention to someone else is really hard, but this is natural. When this happens try to understand what your friend might be feeling, and encourage your friend to show their feelings to this person with respect.

Lesson Learned: Our kids hear language that they don’t know, see things they don’t understand, and even say things not even knowing the meaning. Don’t ignore those moments and explain the concept to their development level. Take a breath and ask for more information. That way you can check your child’s comprehension level, and provide solid and accurate information in a manner he or she can understand. You may not want to tell your child making out involves kissing, hugging, rubbing, or touching, but allow them to understand the behavior in terms they can relate or find a new word to fit the meaning of the situation. This situation was simple in that making out was replaced with flirting. Flirting is a concept an 8 year old can understand because, let’s face it, we are all sexual beings and we see, hear, and feel things in response to our sexuality at every age.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

TEACHABLE MOMENTS: A PARENTS ALLY IN NURTURING A CHILD’S CURIOSITY

Teachable Moment: Consensual Intimacy

I have always been affectionate toward others. I like a firm handshake, and a hug that envelopes around me like a warm blanket. When my husband and I started dating he always commented on how close I would sit to him and tuck my cold feet under his legs to keep them warm. We kiss openly in front of our kids and show lots of affection. When I became a mom I became obsessed with kissing my kids feet, bellies, hands, and lips. I couldn’t get enough! My son has grown especially affectionate and loves to be close to others. He is learning when and when not to share a kiss with just anyone. He even lingers a while when he kisses! He was probably about age 6 when he came in for a kiss wide mouth open and head cocked. I looked at him in amusement, almost laughing asking him “what kind of kiss is that?” he said, “I see dad open his mouth when he is kissing you, why can’t I?” The awkward pause sets in… a teachable moment in intimacy…right?! I shared that when two people really love each other sometimes they share really nice, long kisses. It’s a special way of showing them you love them. This kiss is usually with two adults, not an adult and a child. He quickly referenced the scene in the movie, The Sandlot when Squints kissed Wendy Peppercorn, the lifeguard, “long and good” and asked if it was ok for him to kiss girls his age like that. We talked about how Squints, the boy in the movie, tricked the lifeguard and kissed her when she was performing CPR on him, therefore making the kiss one sided.

Lesson(s) Learned: Our media is sexually charged, but our culture and society tend not to talk about it. Maybe letting my 6 year old watch The Sandlot was not a good judgment call except for the fact I was willing to address the conversation about kissing and intimacy.  Modeling healthy intimacy and also respect for the person you are engaging with is very important. Teachable moment…do not treat a kiss or the person you are kissing with disrespect. Whether your values are to save kissing for dating, engagement, or marriage is a value your family must establish. More so, kissing is mutual act between to people who care about each other. Always treat the person you love and that you want to kiss with respect, and seek their consent before engaging in any sexual act.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Teachable Moment: Keep Calm it is just a VULVA!

Second installment of TPG's student intern, Michelle Asby's blog...enjoy!

Teachable Moment: Keep Calm it is just a VULVA!

We are an affectionate family. We hold hands, kiss, walk around the bathroom nude without hiding our bodies, and talk about body parts using their anatomically correct terms. I’ll never forget teaching our first born about her body as she pointed to her different parts. Head, eyes, shoulders, knees, toes...vulva. You would have thought my husband saw a ghost when I told my daughter she had a vulva and a vagina. “What on earth should I call it,” I asked. “I don’t know, but hearing my 2 year old say vulva or vagina is kinda weird.” he says. “What is weird is that you are a 30 something that still blushes at the word vulva, grow up!” I retorted back. Three kids later he is still ”weirded-out” at his kids’ talking in correct language about their genitalia. This idea of calling our genitals pet names to me is absurd. I learned this lesson in the 3rd grade when one of my classmates came yelling across the playground that her “winkle” was bleeding. We had a male teacher and he kept asking what a “winkle” is looking to all of us kids for answers. Nobody knew what a “winkle” was and before you know it we were yelling out guesses as to what a winkle might be and none of us said vulva or private part! A female teacher finally understand and took the student to the bathroom. She returned to class later in a whole new outfit, unbeknownst to us she had gotten her menstrual period. Days later she told us blood was coming out onto her underwear. This was my first lesson in getting a period.

Lesson Learned: Prepare your kiddos for the inevitable. Be preventative as opposed to reactive as much as possible. Using the correct anatomical name and functions for body parts should start at infancy. Learning and understanding that the body changes and grows all the time is important for all kids to know. Many female children begin puberty between ages 8-12 years old. Talking to your children about their body changes and puberty is important in their healthy development.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Teaching youth media literacy and cyber smart skiills

With smart phones and chrome books replacing jump ropes and wagons, parents are often lost in the technology universe that their kids eagerly use as a playground. Its ever morphing toys: Facebook, Twitter, Snap chat, Whats Ap,... all these cyber toys often leave parents scratching their heads. Parents quickly realize that the lessons before them are more complex than teaching their kids 'how to cross the street'.

Adults are faced with teaching our youth to become media PIs, deconstructing the hidden messages from the overt stories. To top it off, we are also charged with helping our youth to cautiously use an everyday tool, the internet and the associated technology in all its forms with caution. How do you teach responsible use of such an innocuous and powerful object?

Kids need to learn how to become critical thinkers. We must remember that even mature and intelligent youth often developmentally lack the insight we have as adults. We must provide learning opportunities for them to learn to decode media messages. We must help them hone their abilities to not only use technology but the much needed skillset to responsibly navigate is vastness.  Until that time, we must wade them into the cyber pool.

Two smart parent tech tips include:
  1. Learn the 'safety settings' for you child's technology. Set them with you own private security code. Graduate these to less restrictive settings as the child ages and shows more critical thinking skills.
  2. Tech Turn In: Set a time that all technology must be turned into you each night. This prohibits late night unmonitored wandering into uncharted territories.
We reached out to Lisa Schulze,  a youth sex ed expert, for additional advice. She shared some valuable parent resources. Check out:
Common sense media, Edutopia, and PBS kids.

Parents often see their kids as their 'little babies', na├»ve and free from sexuality. However, our kids have many faces, just as we do. Their sexual curiosity, their flirtatious nature, their sexual voice is often exercised in privacy with their friends as they develop social skills and a sense of self. Parents often are not privy to this other side of their children. They are sometimes blinded by a misguided idea that youth are sexually innocent and they somehow believe it is their duty to protect their kids from sexuality.

A more holistic and sexually healthy version recognizes that our children are sexual beings from birth. Our job, rather than protecting children from their inherent sexuality, is to shepherd their evolving sexuality, guide their journey as safely as possible, increase their sexual literacy, and minimize their sexual shame. Its an awesome and sometimes terrifying responsibility... being a sexuality teacher. But every parent is by default a sex ed teacher. It may be one of the most important parenting job roles. It is a job made more important by the bombardment of our children by hidden media messages and the tempting calls of a technology landscape that is often a new frontier for most parents. The good news is that as adults we don't have to become experts in these arenas, we just need to stay a dozen or so steps ahead of our children.




Wednesday, November 12, 2014

TEACHABLE MOMENTS: A PARENTS ALLY IN NURTURING A CHILD’S CURIOSITY

TPG is excited to announce a new blog series from our student intern, Michelle Asby. She will will be sharing musings on her journey raising sexually literate children. Come along for the ride...

TEACHABLE MOMENTS: A PARENTS ALLY IN NURTURING A CHILD’S CURIOSITY

One of my biggest lesson as a parent is understanding my impact on the greater life of my children as
their first teacher, friend, love, and even adversary. What an incredible opportunity we have being their “first” everything. We get the privilege of teaching them all about the world and the complexities within.

The role we take on as parents is so far reaching it has no end! Knowing this, we must arm ourselves
for any and all questions especially those related to sex and sexuality. I am a mother of three amazing
creatures that all came into this world firing on all pistons! Their incredible curiosities make for some
hilarious discussions and teachable moments. Embrace these moments with dignity and grace, but most importantly honesty. Here are some of my favorite most teachable moments related to sexuality.

Teachable Moment: The Mating Game

During a trip to Florida in May 2011 there was an extremely high volume of flying bugs that swarmed us at the beach it wasn’t long before our daughter asked, “Mom, why are those bugs’ butts stuck together?” Sure enough each bug was coupled with its mate. The bugs were so thick and such a
nuisance we asked nearby beach goers what they were. We learned that they were called “love bugs”
and clearly it was mating season. At age 4 a simple response of “that is a probably a mommy and daddy bug that are mating” was enough to appease her. My eldest continued the conversation asking “what is mating?”. At this point my husband drifts off to his “manly” duties of carrying the coolers and setting up our chairs for our beach day; leaving me to answer to the curiosities of our children. I glare at him and after a quick cleansing breathe I explained that “mating is a natural process that animals do to make babies.” She was happy with the response and went about still following her curiosity catching the love bugs and inspecting this mating ritual up close and personal.

Lesson Learned: Keep calm and answer the question. I don’t claim to have handled this situation
perfectly, but I do know that running from it, like my husband, or bringing shame or discomfort to the
question was not in their best interest. I did my best to honor the question with an honest answer for
what I felt their development allowed for.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sexual Health Gap in Medical Care Prompts Kansas City Sex Therapist, Dr. George Turner, to Advocate for Change

Dr. George Turner presented at the 60th Annual Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) planning meeting in Tampa, Fl. The presentation, Teaching Sexuality to Social Work Students: Sixty Years In a Contact Zone examined how sexuality studies have transformed social work and vice versa, providing narratives of the transculturation occurring in a sexuality/social work contact zone. The presentation demonstrated the value schools of social work realize when they commit to teaching and integrating sexual health issues in all aspects of their social work curricula.

"There is an absence of comprehensive sexual health and its a gap in patient care. Clients need better access to sexuality information and sexually literate health care professionals.  I think social work students are a perfect match to address this deficit in our health care system" shared, Dr. Turner.

Susan Stiritz, Sabitha Pillai-Friedman, George Turner
George collaborated with two colleagues, Susan Stiritz, MSW, MBA, PhD, The Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, and Sabitha Pillai-Friedman, PhD., Widener University, Chester, PA on this panel. They described classes they teach and programs they direct, providing illustrative objectives, curricula, syllabi, instructional materials, and results. They offered these programs as four very different models for providing sexuality education at the graduate level and compared their goals with those of each other and with those teaching the first sexuality courses in schools of social work.
Turner shared, “Social workers are arguably the best positioned helping profession to be sexual health experts in client care settings. Clients will often seek advice from physicians who surprisingly receive little training around sexual medicine. Social work programs need to actively re-access their role in social work education in regards to human sexuality. In practice, human sexuality is an innate aspect of every client population that social workers interact with and encompasses micro, meso and macro practice applications. Having sexually literate social work students, specifically ones who have had training in sexual ethics seems warranted.”

CSWE conferences help to promote and teach best practices in research and curriculum development through dynamic educational sessions, peer networking forums, and job-search opportunities. 
The Annual Program Meeting (APM) is the pre-eminent annual meeting for social work educators, students, deans, and directors worldwide. Each year, the APM brings together more than 2,500 individual members as well as more than 400 graduate and undergraduate programs of professional social work education.

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is a nonprofit national association representing more than 2,500 individual members, as well as graduate and undergraduate programs of professional social work education. Founded in 1952, this partnership of educational and professional institutions, social welfare agencies, and private citizens is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the sole accrediting agency for social work education in this country.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Therapy is going to the dogs... and the horses, and a host other pet assisted helpers!

We know the benefit of our doggie ambassadors first hand. People are often drawn to animals and form a bond that can aid psychotherapy.

 NASW recently reported on the benefits.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams: Brings Attention to Suicide & Depression Help

 With the recent news of Robin Williams, we thought it important to share some resources for those dealing with depression. When addiction and depression run together they increase the odds for suicide.

Depression can look different in different people. The severity of symptoms can vary and a person might not experience every sign.

You cant always tell when someone is depressed. For many their inner world is masked by a variety of coping skills: smiles, joking, distance, anger, drinking, and chaos. Unresolved pain can overwhelm a person. Many suffer in isolation. Sharing our truth can be healing.

Signs of depression can include:
 If you or someone is considering self harm, there is help. Dont be afraid to talk about it and don't hesitate to ask for help. A great resource to talk to someone at anytime is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Talking to someone can be the life raft that a person needs. Medications can also be a part of managing depression. Natural tools for helping with depression  can include: walking or increasing your physical activity, petting a loved dog or cat, calling a trusted friend, yoga, prayer, orgasm with a partner or alone.

'SEX DOC' Wins! Dr. George Turner Has Victory Over License Plate Battle with Missouri Appeals Court: Makes Case That Sexual Health is a Human Right.



Dr. Turner picks up his plates
August 08, 2014
Initial Application Feb 2013
Kansas City social worker, marriage therapist and sexuality expert, Dr. George Turner, recently won his 1.5 year battle with the State of Missouri over his license plate, SEX DOC. “This became about more than celebrating my PhD in sexual health with a personalized license plate”, shared Turner. “I found it repugnant that a small governmental group was imposing their sex negative views without any justification or guidelines. It was clear to me that they saw sexuality as something bad, embarrassing or dirty. As a sexual health advocate, this was not the community standard that I could endorse. This is about reclaiming the dialogue from one of sexual shame to sexual literacy. Simply put this is a social justice issue for me,” shared Turner.

A state appeals court said Turner, a certified sex therapist in Kansas City, is entitled to his personalized license plate as part of marketing his business as a psychotherapist. “Putting SEX DOC out there is a way to help people start a conversation. Too often others are trying to silence conversations on sexuality. My patients suffer from this shaming and I don’t think the state of Missouri has any place it perpetuating this kind of psychological harm. It is my intent to destigmatize problems related to sexual health,” shared Turner.
 

The Administrative Hearing Commission rejected Turner’s petition in February 2013, claiming that the word “sex” was “obscene and patently offensive”. After several failed attempts by phone and letter to receive justification from the Commission for this decision, Turner, argued his case in Jefferson City last January. Turner was shocked to learn that the Commission has no guidelines to make these decisions, but unilaterally rejects all applications with the word ‘sex’.

Turner stated, “Sex negativity can often be used to fuel oppression of groups. I work to eliminate the toxic messages and repressive policies that ban positive sexuality education and knowledge to the shadows. Silencing sexuality creates an environment ripe for sexism and sexual misuse. You need to look no further to find the impact of this than in our own community”. Turner cited examples like the KC juror, Laura Trickle, (2013) fined for breast feeding her child or how rape culture perpetuates victim blaming similar to the case of Maryville youth, Daisy Coleman (2013).  “Sexuality is a human right and access to comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate, sexuality information is key to sexual health. My goal is to move our culture beyond the sexual dysfunction, disease, disaster model,” shared Turner.

Turner presented evidence that the word “sex” is not obscene, including the dictionary



Dr. George Turner
Administrative Hearing
Jefferson City, MO. Feb 2013
definition 
according to Webster. When one of the two attorneys for the state asked, “how do you explain that to a five-year old?” Turner shared, “As a sexuality educator I saw this as a great opportunity to expand the conversation into real and practical applications, and I gently tried to highlight to the attorney that that would be a teachable moment, one where he as the parent can pass along his views and values on the topic.” Turner also noted, “I think this attorney, like many parents, was scared and not sure how he would approach a potentially uncomfortable topic with his child. So I shared the book series by Robie Harris with him afterwards. Books like, Its Perfectly Normal, are a phenomenal sex ed tool for families. In some ways it felt like another day at the office, providing sexually accurate information so that parents can raise sexually literate children. Most parents want what is best for their kids and most want better sex ed than they had. They just don’t have the comfort or skills. That’s where I often come into the picture, helping parents craft a message and lesson plan for their kids. It’s a great job!” stated Turner.
 

One of the attorney’s stated, “there’s a lot of questions out there, when you put the word ‘sex’ out there in public…That’s really the gist of it and why we denied it”. Addressing this concern, Turner responded, “The word sex is already out in public. I believe the attorney’s statements were based in fear and tipped his hand that he saw this as a personal duty to protect children, his children. It also echoed a common myth about sexuality education and that is it is one big conversation about reproduction at some ambiguous age when the youth is old enough. However, censoring my license plate because of your uncomfortableness with sexuality is akin to putting your head in the sand. I empathize with the attorney and share his concern for providing a safe community for children, but ignorance is not an effective strategy. A better approach would be many small conversations that are based in comprehensive, medically accurate, age appropriate sexuality education”.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Sex After Menapause... It Shouldnt Have To Hurt!

We can talk about erections and Viagra ads are everywhere on TV. Shouldnt we also be able to talk about a woman's sex life. Finally women are demanding more information and some are taking a humorous approach. Ali Wentworth makes the topic of sex after menapause a bit easier, but highlights the importance that our sex life is important... even into our older years.

Often vaginal dryness is a part of menapause for women... but no one talks about it. A certified sex therapist can be a welcomed coach for sexual health.

Points to consider:
  1. Our bodies are constantly changing. Dont hold yourself hostage to the former you. You are a sexual person today, just different than your younger self. Learn to enjoy your body as it is today.
  2. Use it or lose it! It important for vaginal health to keep blood flow to the area. You can do that alone as part of your self care. Regular vaginal massage can help avoid pain. We often recommend for patients to schedule regular time for vaginal rejuvination by using hands and sexual aides, such as a vibrator.
  3. LUBE, LUBE, LUBE. We cant sing the praise for commercial lubrication enough for making sex pleasurable. As women ages, her natural lubrication often is less. Invest in a quality product.
  4. Increase your sexual literacy. Ask a sex therapist!

  1. Be a wise sexuality shopper. Become an informed consumer of sexuality products. Leave the cheap bacherlorette products as gag gifts. You deserve quality sexual health products. Learn about the best lube to use for vaginal dryness at  A Women's Touch.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sex Positive Parenting... Whats that look like?

"Mom, why do I have a belly button?"; "How can you tell if a girl really likes you?"; "Why cant I wear makeup... all the other girls are doing it?" These are only some of the questions, parents have presented to our sexualy professionals in order to gain some insight and help in responding to their kids. Most parents want to offer sex positive parenting. They want better for their kids than they got regarding sex ed. They just dont know where to start. The above linc provides some examples.

The number one piece of advice we give parents is ...Prepare! And, the second tip, know that the 'birds & the bees' talk is out, you should be engaging in multiple, teachable moments that are age-appropriate throughout a childs development. Parents often get a glazed look in their eyes at this point, quickly followed by a look of terror. The great news is that our sexualty professionals can help and there are numerous tools to make it that much easier. You first need to acknowledge that you could benefit from expert guidance and next you need to take action. We tell parents, you might be a really good golf player, but who wouldnt take Tiger Woods up on some tips. We seek professional support in so many areas of our life, why not in preparing a sex education plan for your kids?

Our sexuality experts routinely meet with parents to help them develop sex positive messages for their kids. This is sometimes a one-time consultation, but most often parents find our coaching useful at numerous stages of their education with their kids. Sometime parents need in-depth help to strategize a comprhensive plan, but other time they just have quick question. So depending on the age of your child, your values, and your comfort level with the topic we will customize an approach. "Its Perfectly Normal" is a book in a series of great books to aide parents, by Robie Harris  

Parents want and need coaching in this area because most of us got little, no, or really myth-filled sex ed. We want better for our kids. We want them to be informed, sexually literate and responsible sexual people who take pride in their bodies. We want them to be great partners who can say "no" and not be shackled with shame messages.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Who is your Super Hero? Kane Smego WOWs the NASW conference... PT 2

Speaking on racism, parenting, resilience and pride, nationally recognized spoken word poet Kane Smego inspires you to consider WHAT is a super hero.
 
Kane performed at the opening session of the 2014 National Association of Social Workers conference. Moving the audience to click their fingers in appreciation.
 
This is 2nd installment highlighting this creative artist who paints his canvas with stories. This YouTube sample was done at another event but will hopefully move you as it did us. Enjoy!
 
 

Vulnerability Turns Out to be the Key to Relationship Strength

We attended the 2014 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) conference last week (July 23-26) in Washington, DC. As with most conferences, along with workshops they offer key note presentations to help unite and inspire the group. The opening plenary session delivered on this goal with social worker rock star, Brene Brown.




Sharing, "social work is not what I do; its who I am. Its how I see the world," Brene wowed NASW attendees, speaking on her halmark topics: vulnerability and shame. With Texas charm she weaved messages that we are all worthy of love but our fear of authenticity derails us. Other "Brene-isms" that resonated with the audience incluced:


"You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both"
    • Debunking the myth that courageous people are not afraid. Opting to be comfortable takes you out of the arena into complacency. Courage is indeed scary.

  • "Dont listen to the cheap seats"
    • All too often we try to please everyone. We take in all the criticism from people who have never set foot in the arena. Everyone can have an opinion, but that doesnt mean that you have to follow it. That doesnt mean that you cant take in constructive feedback, but in today's world too many people chime in on someone's elses efforts without every joining them in the fight. Brene suggets taking a 1x1 piece of paper and writing the name of the select few people who you respect and can offer advice, suggestions, feedback that matters.

  • "I want to be in the arena"
    • Living your life to the fullest means living in the arena... but remember you WILL fail! You will get knocked down, you will make mistakes. The alternative is silently living invisibly on the side-lines of your life. Do not wake up one day and with regret wonder 'what if I had shown up to my life?'

  • "Ther is no evidence that vulnerabilty is weakness"
    • Brene's research shows that it is through risk taking and choosing to be known that we enrich and strengthen the quality of our lives. AND... its tough!
Her 2010 TED Talk (Click Here) has been viewed more than 16 million times. Her books, The Gifts of Imperfection, I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn't), and Daring Greatly, are all bestsellers. Her Amazon Author Rank for self-help books is currently at #4. All this is a testament to the fact that people are hungry for her message: that it is okay to embrace your vulnerability and your imperfections, to allow yourself to have the uncomfortable feelings, and to be real.

 

Monday, July 28, 2014

X Chromosome... Hipster cool poet will move you!

Kane Smego
Part I of several installments highlighting our trip to Washington DC to participate in the National Association of Social Workers conference.

Kane Smego, inspirational poet, spoke at the NASW conference. One of his poems, "X Chromosome,  honors women. Check it out by clicking his name. He delivered a variety of smooth art via the spoken word, sharing universal stories... our truths.

This performance was done at another venue but still packs an emotional punch. Enjoy!

Dr. George Turner and Lisa Meyers, sexual health experts, speak at the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) conference in DC

Lisa Myers and Dr. George Turner
Turner Professional Group
Local sexual health experts, Dr. George Turner and Lisa Meyers of Turner Professional Group, spoke on Sexuality and Disability in Washington DC at the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) conference. George and Lisa are clinicians and researchers with over 50 years between them working with adults with intellectual disabilities (ID). Partnering once again with Dr. Mary Rita Weller, they spoke to over 30 social workers on increasing their skills working with people with ID.


 The three-tiered presentation shared with participants the experiences of three disability professionals who also have the unique vantage point of being licensed social workers involved in research, therapy and education around sexuality and persons with intellectual disability. Dr. Turner shared, “A mother and social worker came up to me after our presentation near tears thanking us for our work. She acknowledged that she had had no training in this area during her graduate education and as a mom to someone with ID, she is frustrated with so little support for her daughter around sexuality.” Turner added, “This is why our work is so crucial. This is a call for social workers to get more education on sexuality and people with disabilities. We need to get better trained mental health practitioner out there, and social workers are perfectly positioned to take up this challen
 

Dr. Mary Rita Weller, Dr. George Turner & Lisa Meyers
The trio of disability advocates highlighted case vignettes to make the case for social workers to engage in better research, education and mental health counseling in the area of sexual health. Lisa Meyers noted the lack of mental health professionals with the expertise to work with people with intellectual disabilities who are also trained in sexual health. “People with disabilities need to be sexually literate if we are going to facilitate full community integration with the promise of a quality life”, shared Meyers. “Sometimes that means I work with the parents to help them see that their ‘baby’ is no longer a child, but an adult with the desire for companionship, romance… a meaningful life of love”.