Happening in Kansas City
Trending around OUTvoices
As therapists who strive to help individuals pursue principles of sexual health, we offer this open letter.
We would like to help the LGBTQI community learn how to take responsibility for who they are and their sexual health, but also learn how to challenge professionals who might not be culturally or sexually informed. We both have heard all-too-common examples of shaming – about sex and being gay, internalized homophobia, and lack of self-acceptance.
These factors can lead to engaging in behaviors that lead to the individual being confused, not proud. Over the almost 40 years since the concept of sex addiction was first developed, individuals often have been diagnosed as being sex addicts and treated with the classic sex-addiction model.
Although this approach has been popularized by the media, celebrities, and certain portions of the therapeutic community, you may be surprised to find out that there is no actual diagnosis of sex or porn addiction in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the definitive classification manual used by mental health practitioners in the United States. Sex and porn addiction were intentionally not included due to the lack of research supporting them as a diagnosis. The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), the preeminent professional organization focused on sex and sexuality, issued a position statement in 2016 stating that they “do not find sufficient empirical evidence” to support sex addiction as a diagnosis and that sex-addiction treatment models are not “adequately informed by accurate human sexuality knowledge.”
We, as therapists, believe that using the term addiction shuts down the process of understanding sexuality through a non-judgmental perspective. By using the unscientific pejorative language of sex addict, we force the connotations that are tied to substance-related dependence onto that phrase as an identity. We prefer to help a client understand how shame shuts them down and prevents them from being honest. We help clients understand how anxiety, depression, values conflicts, and other issues subtly mingle with sexuality and play out in their relationships. That way, they can have a clearer understanding of themselves, which allows them to keep relationship agreements and have sexual integrity.
We would like to help clients and clinicians stop using act-centered morality to guide them and instead use principle-based, sexologically informed models and knowledge so that they can be authentic in relationships. We believe that using an addiction model prematurely shuts down the evaluation process by which people fully explore their sexuality.
Doug Braun-Harvey and Michael Vigorito have developed and published a model for working with men who experience feelings of being out-of-control in their sexual behavior. Through their work they have applied significant shift to working with the sexual health model components through what they refer to as a “Principle Centered” model. Choosing to shift to the Out of Control Sexual (OCSB) Health model, a model which bases its clinical conceptions on principles is a major shift, which Braun-Harvey and Vigorito (2016) have contributed, allowing a more nuanced understanding and we would portend will allow a more systemic shift to happen in many related professions in the sexual health space.
We, along with many of our colleagues, use a newer approach that is more informed by sexual-health research and more effective when dealing with sexual health and sexual expression. The OCSB sexual-health model is based on the World Health Organization’s definition of sexual health, which is:
A state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled. (WHO, 2006a)
The sex-addiction model and the OSCB sexual-health model have important differences:
- The sex-addiction model is an act-centered model, and the sexual health model is principle-based. We use principles that help increase communication and understanding rather than judgment. Braun-Harvey and Vigorito (2016) use principles to help increase communication and understanding rather than judgement and to "avoid the possible misperception that we are privileging sex in romantic relationships" (pp. 46).
- An act-centered model decides that certain behaviors are good or bad for everyone based on a morality determined by someone other than the client. A principle-based model helps clients have a better understanding of their values and how they see being honest and keeping relationship agreements.
- In an act-centered addiction model, if the client is engaging in behaviors judged to be bad, the therapist will exploit the use of shame to attempt to change behaviors or beliefs. A principle-centered sexual-health model helps clients understand their thoughts, urges, and behavior based on the principles of sexual health. The ‘Six Sexual Health Principles’ operationalized by Braun-Harvey and Vigorito (2016) to mitigate proscriptive sociocultural sexual values within the OCSB sexual health model are:
- Protected against sexually transmitted infections, HIV, unintended pregnancy
- Shared values
- Mutual pleasure
We know that shame is not a useful approach to creating sustainable change. Shame is highly correlated with substance abuse/addiction, depression, violence, aggression, bullying, suicide, and eating disorders. Those are not the outcomes we want when attempting to help individuals.
The sexual-health model is driven by the individual’s internal values rather than being based on someone else’s expertise and judgment about an individual’s choices. It doesn’t define anything as inherently good or bad. Instead, it is based on what is individually pleasurable or not and how those choices play out in clients’ relationship agreements with themselves and others. It shifts the focus from “what not to do” to “what you want to create in your life and relationships.”
The OCSB sexual health model invites diversity and uniqueness of individual value systems and principles. Now that our field has a better model from which to work, we can do better work. The shift to helping individuals clarify and embrace their own value system as they develop their own sexual expression allows the individuals to have better skills regarding other principles of sexual health, such as honesty and agreement-keeping. This type of change is more sustainable in the long run.
Valuing someone’s honesty is hard when it challenges our understanding of them, their life and our own belief system. But we have to strive to understand. It’s our duty to be open to diversity and to not assume that everyone should be a mirror image of us or be judged by someone else’s standards. The values and agency of individuals must be respected even as society seeks to create a common set of rules and judgments as a means of controlling sexual expression.
It’s in this space – where the values of others intersect with the values of the individual – that therapists need to be careful not to collude with society, but instead to help individuals clarify their own authenticity in relation to sexual health. The role of the therapist is not to impose the will and morals of society, but rather to help individuals become the people they wish to be.
If you are concerned about issues related to sexual thoughts, urges or behaviors, there are mental health professionals who can help you. Be a smart consumer. Ask questions before choosing a therapist. Talk to more than one professional. Find out whether someone’s approach and personality are a good fit for you. We encourage you to find a therapist who doesn’t attempt to use shame about a subject that already has significant shame created by our society. You deserve to develop your own sexual expression in a way that is consistent with your own principles and values.
Braun-Harvey, Doug., Vigorito, Michael., (2016) Treating Out of Control Sexual Behavior: Rethinking Sex Addiction, New York, NY Springer Publishing
After the last 2 years of dealing with the pandemic and packing on those COVID pounds here are some motivational quotes that can be the spark plugs to our wellness engines. You can have a full tank of gas, a clean carburetor, all the fluids topped off, and 300 horsepower of Detroit’s finest under the hood, but you’re going nowhere without that initial spark. In your quest for well-being, you need a catalyst to move you from idle to ideal. Here are some motivational jolts to inspire you to get your health and fitness vehicle moving.
Make time for exercise each dayPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” You will have conflicts with making time for exercise each day. The treadmill will conflict with your enjoyment of the living-room couch and its fluffy pillows. Your body will engage in conflict with dumbbells and exercise balls as it seeks better health. Embrace these conflicts with excitement, and walk through the smoke and fire. Triumph is waiting on the other side.
Marathon runnersPhoto by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash
John F. Kennedy said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” The firefighter’s 55-pound weight loss did not just happen one day on a call. The computer programmer’s success in the Chicago Marathon did not just happen on a Sunday in October. The 4th grade teacher’s significant drop in cholesterol level did not just happen the day before spring break. These people made things happen…and it took time.
Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator website, wrote, “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Let today be the first day in 28 years without a cigarette. Stay an extra five minutes on the recumbent bike at the gym today. Start training today for the three-day breast cancer walk that is scheduled for the fall. Tomorrow is always waiting to see what you put in your piggy bank today. Invest wisely and watch the dividends grow.
Full MoonPhoto by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Jill McLemore once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.” Set that goal to trim 75 pounds from your body. Only losing 42 pounds puts you way out there with the North Star. Aim to run 750 miles this year. Coming up 68 miles short will still put you past that former planet Pluto and on your way to the Orion constellation. Dropping eight waist sizes by Christmas instead of the projected 10 will let you glow with the luminescence of several brilliant wonders in the sky. By the way, I think there’s a full moon tonight!
Zig Ziglar stated, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Tom Cruise was another aspiring pretty face in Hollywood about 30 years ago before starting to audition for parts in TV shows. Jared Fogle was a morbidly obese college student at Indiana University in the 1990s before beginning his Subway diet. Mark Zuckerberg was just another starry-eyed Ivy Leaguer until he began to implement a social network idea. They all have that common bond: They started something.
These motivational quotes should help get your wellness engine running and once your car is started there’s no telling where your health and fitness can go. Don't forget to end me a postcard when you get there!
This health and fitness article is brought to you by that guy who’s sneaky like a black hole and bright like a nebula. My name is Ron Blake and I can be found playing with my telescope at email@example.com.
Curative has announced that it is currently providing COVID-19 no-cost testing in your area at Metropolitan Community College.
Stay safe and get tested!
You can schedule COVID-19 Test at curative.com, and receive results in 24-48 hours.
Curative is the leading provider of COVID-19 testing in the United States. Curative’s mission is to end the COVID-19 pandemic by providing simple-to-use and painless testing at scale to produce reliable data for patients and health officials. We know that broad access to testing, robust contact tracing, and a vaccine are necessary to end the pandemic.
Is there any cost?
Regarding the tests, there is no out of pocket cost to the individual. Through the CARES act, all individuals with health insurance will be covered for a COVID-19 test. No one is ever charged a copay or deductible.
For uninsured individuals, they are covered under the HRSA fund under the CARES act. Curative will never send a bill to any individual getting a COVID-19 test through any of our testing sites.
How soon do I get the results?
Curative provides results within 24 hours of arrival at our lab (if not sooner). We pride ourselves on our ability to distribute tests rapidly, test patients easily, and send them their results quickly. Other highlights include:
· Non-invasive cheek swab (video) that is more accurate (~90%) than a nasopharyngeal test (~80%)
· Can be self-collected under supervision by lightly-trained individuals (so no onsite medical professional required)
· Results within 24 hours of receipt at our lab
· Lab capacity to process tens of thousands of additional tests
· Manufacturing capacity to meet any order size
· Minimal PPE requirement due to the test’s self-collected method
Please visit curative.com to schedule your no-cost appointment TODAY at a site nearest to you. Together we can end this pandemic!
Curative believes that communal well-being is fundamental to individual health.
Curative is building infrastructure to make essential health services easier to access for everyone. Their infrastructure is designed to change as the world does—offering nearby access, affordable services, and science-based guidance.
Their efforts are supported by the optimism and ambition we share with communities across the US, and together we’re imagining new ways to help more people stay safe, healthy, and informed wherever they are.
“I wish I could work out, too, but I just don’t have the motivation!”
Give me a dollar for every time I’ve heard that and I’d be in Cabo San Lucas with an umbrella drink right now. Let’s identify a few of your motivations to get you on the right path. They are there … you just need to realize them so you can make it a great 2022.
How about getting healthy so you can be at that Christmas celebration in 30 years with all the family gathered around and exchanging presents? There will be nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, children and maybe some grandchildren, all enjoying the sounds and sights of the season. That would be amazing!
How about being healthy so you can watch the first man land on Mars in 2030? You hear all the talk about preparing for a mission to Mars, but it will be a long time in coming. Just think if you were alive and well to see it happen!
How about being healthy so you can attend that 60-year class reunion? It might even be nice to walk into the function with a spring in your step and a glow of health about you! Many of your classmates will have walked past St. Peter and those pearly gates by that time, but you can give yourself a chance to stay here with some proactive measures.
How about being healthy so you can spend more time being relaxed and retired? It would be awesome to just not have to do anything you didn’t want to do! Get up every day and use that watch they gave you as a fashion accessory only. With a healthy body, you can spend ample time in the lap of leisure well into your 90s.
How about being healthy so you can walk your dog with your grandkids or great-nephews after that Thanksgiving meal many years down the road? It will be so cool to have that turkey dinner with all the relatives, but it’ll be even more fun to be able to move around without having to catch your breath between steps.
How about being healthy so you can continue to enjoy vibrant sunsets, thrilling football games, colorful leaves in the fall, summer barbecues, or birthday cards in the mail?
Everyone can find the motivation to work out! You just have to identify which motivation will get you to your starting line each day and which will help you get to your daily finish line.
There are plenty of great things to enjoy in life. Find your motivation and start earning your frequent flyer miles for your healthy life. Then soar into the future with excitement about what will be!
This article of motivation is brought to you by a guy who knows a good thing when he sees it. That guy of good vision is Ron Blake, and he can be spotted on that bright horizon at firstname.lastname@example.org.