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2019 Clinical Track Workshop Descriptions

This year SWLF is offering a clinical track. These workshops are offered by licensed therapists and psychologists and are designed for both community members and professionals.

Braving! Telling your story and asking for what you need

EJ Milstone

Have you ever wished for better tools and a process to work through Big Emotional Reactions? Have you ever thought to yourself, “if only I could figure out what was bothering me about this situation?” Have you ever wanted a way to know how and when to set good boundaries with partners and others? This is the workshop for you! You’ll learn how to write a “shitty first draft” of your reaction story, figure out what pieces of that story are sticking points, and work on setting healthy boundaries and asking for what you need.

Cultivating Secure Attachment in Poly Relationships

Jessica Fern Cooley

It’s difficult to talk about relationships these days without the topic of Attachment Styles coming up.  The research on love and relationships consistently finds that understanding our attachment style can be an important part in creating healthy and fulfilling relationships, but how this applies to non-monogamous relationships can be unclear. Since the majority of the resources and advice on how to create securely attached romantic relationships rely heavily on mono-normative behaviors and hierarchical relationship structures, non-monogamous folks are often at a loss on how to create secure functioning with their multiple partners. 

In this class Jessica will present on:
    •    An overview of the different attachment styles 
    •    The importance of Secure Attachment in Polyamory
    •    How jealousy can sometimes be a symptom of insecure attachment
    •    The different relationship skills for creating secure functioning from a Polyamorous perspective. 
    •    What secure attachment with yourself looks like

Deconstructing The Myth Of Poly Sainthood 

Nolan Lawless & Jeri Lynn Astra Herbert

In the poly community, there are certain concepts that have become qualifications for “poly sainthood”: always feeling compersion towards metamours and never jealousy, always being available but never needy, always openly communicating but never having drama, and the list goes on. This is model that poly newbies are told to emulate, that those in the community who are struggling are judged against, and that many of us feel guilty for not living up to. In this workshop, we will explore the origins of some of these ideas, identify how they are presented in formal literature and online message boards, discuss the impact they can have on relationships and the self-concept of polyamorous people, and ask: what does it mean to be “good at” polyamory?

Ethical Issues In Counseling Non-Monogamous Clients

Nolan Lawless and Dr. Liz Powell

Audience: Mental health professionalsThis workshop will address and explore application of professional ethical principles and state legal guidelines to the unique challenges of working with clients who are exploring or practicing ethical non-monogamy. Topics addressed will include competency, working with clients interested in exploring non-monogamy, the coming out process, conducting therapy with triads or other non-monogamous relationship structures, and more. We will also discuss the unique ethics of practicing non-monogamy as a licensed professional. 

Gaslighting’s Invisible Glare

Samantha Manewitz LICSW CST

In the age of alternative facts, gaslighting seems to be everywhere. The phrase has become fodder for many a blog post and think piece. And yet, there’s pervasive misunderstanding about what gaslighting actually is and how it affects our brains. The truth is that gaslighting is a pervasive, insidious, and effective form of psychological manipulation/control. It can manifest in relationships, friendships, communities, online, and beyond. No matter who you are, where you’re from, or how smart and capable you may be, you are not immune to gaslighting’s effects. (Yes. That means you.) As bleak as this may sound, there is hope. There are ways you can protect yourself from this type of undue influence. This workshop is designed to introduce you to those toolkits. We will discuss what gaslighting is, how it manifests, especially in non monogamous relationships/communities, and what you can do to evade gaslighting’s powerful thrall.

Getting off the Drama Triangle

Jessica Fern Cooley


I will present the Karpman drama triangle, go through what the perpetrator, rescuer and victim roles look like (and how each role is an expression of a victim mentality) and then I'll spend time on how we can get off of the drama triangle and move into personal responsibility. 

Managing Mental Health Challenges and Polyamory

Dr. Ryan Witherspoon

What do you do if you, or one or more of your partners, is suffering from a mental health issue such as depression, anxiety, current or past abuse, or post-traumatic stress?  How do you effectively manage relationships with partners or metamours who have borderline, narcissistic, or even sociopathic personality traits?  What if you are concerned that you might have some of those traits yourself?  Do you know what to do if you or someone you care about is having a mental health crisis?

This workshop, taught by a long-time polyamorous person who is also a mental health professional, educator, and polyamory researcher, will teach you how to use boundary management techniques, effective communication skills, mindfulness-based practices, and crisis intervention principles to cope effectively with mental health-related challenges.  With an emphasis on creating an atmosphere of warmth, safety, and empathy, Dr. Witherspoon will utilize lecture, exercises, role-plays, and discussion to illustrate principles and techniques.  Attendees will also have the opportunity (if they wish) to share challenges they may have faced, or are facing, in a safe and supportive environment.  

Polyamorists Under 30yrs old Discussing Polyamory, Sex Positivity, and the Changing Landscape of Polyamory

Ruby B. Johnson Moderator

Ethical non-monogamy is more visible in popular culture, gaming spaces, burns, and social media. Exposure and visibility of non-monogamy appears to be moving at a quicker pace than developing new constructs for relationship dynamics and expression. The panel consists of 4 millennial and iGeneration panelists as we explore sex positivity, hook up spaces, and consent. Inner Hoe Uprising Samuel Dausch Pussy Witch By the end of the presentation, participants compare multiple types of ethnical non-monogamy. By the end of the presentation, participant compare misconceptions of ethical non monogamy

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