Since 2015, the Sexual Health Alliance (SHA) has hosted conferences that have united and inspired professionals in the field of human sexuality. The 2024 Inaugural Sexological Conference in particular was special because it was the first in-person conference SHA hosted since restrictions were put in place on public events for nearly two years of the global pandemic.
Hosted at the prestigious Omni Interlocken Hotel and Resort, this remarkable venue in Colorado offered a prime location nestled between the bustling cities of Denver and Boulder and welcomed over 100 sexuality professionals for a weekend of self-discovery, professional growth, and collaborative learning. The main goal of the conference was to “redefine the landscape of sexology and inspire a new era of compassionate and holistic approaches to human sexuality” and it went above and beyond its expectations.
Day 1 of the Inaugural Sexological Conference featured various talks from professionals in the field of human sexuality on subjects ranging from interventions therapists can use to work with couples experiencing jealousy to ways religious women can navigate discussions with their partners about sexual pleasure.
A crowd favorite from the first day of the conference was the “Relational/Sexual Network Mapping” session where Casandra Jones, MPH, MA, explored various methods available for drawing and mapping out “snapshots” of client relationship history as a visual way to better understand their current systems. Watching Jones create a “polycule map” (a.k.a. the relationship version of a traditional family tree) was incredible and it was an eye-opening tool for couples therapists who work with non-monogamous clients.
Days 2 and 3 of the Inaugural Sexological Conference featured a full-length presentation by keynote speaker, Chris Donaghue, PhD, CST. Dr. Donaghue is an internationally recognized lecturer, therapist, and educator. In fact, you may already recognize Dr. Donaghue’s expertise as the host of the LoveLine podcast and resident sex expert on “The Amber Rose Show” and “The Doctors” TV show. He also previously hosted shows like WE TV’s “Sex Box” and Logo TV’s “Bad Sex,” solidifying his reputation as a leading authority in the field of sexology.
Throughout the conference, Dr. Donaghue covered a range of captivating topics, offering fresh perspectives and innovative approaches to enhance our understanding of sexuality and its intersections with psychology and clinical practice.
One of the most impactful moments of Dr. Donaghue’s presentation was when he highlighted the most common concerns people have when seeking a sex therapist. He stated that people often have this concept of what “normal” means and whether or not they fit that threshold. Dr. Donaghue, however, encourages people to stop asking “Is this normal?” and instead ask “Is this experience authentic to me personally?”
Speaking of common reasons people seek sex therapy, Dr. Donaghue also discussed sexual dysfunction being a hot topic within our field. He explained that many people with sexual dysfunction issues tend to make accommodations like taking pills and finding “quick” techniques to navigate these issues rather than navigate their sexual concerns as a natural part of their development and an inevitable part of long-term relationships.
For people who are specifically struggling with how to “keep things spicy” in their multi-year-long relationship, Dr. Donaghue suggested during his presentation that “The best way to keep the spark alive is by never letting it go in the first place.” Couples need to stay in the courtship cycle and create the space for eroticism to emerge. “Eroticism is a developmental task that few of us have navigated. Everyone operates sexually at their level of development, and that’s where sex therapy comes in,” he said.
But, if you’re under the impression that academic learning was the only thing going on at this conference, then think again. Three of the biggest highlights of the conference were the fun, interactive events to end each night, like the insightful “Body Worship Workshop,” the infamous “Sex Nerd Trivia” and the “Dance Party and Hangout” with DJ Joel Shane.
Fun fact from the trivia night: Do you know which condition the erection enhancing medication Viagra was originally developed to treat?
*drum roll, please*
Answer: Angina, the chest pain or discomfort that occurs when part of your heart muscle does not get enough oxygen-rich blood
And last, but not least, this review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the most anticipated part of the weekend — the complimentary goodie bags! Each attendee of the conference received a large bag of various items such as:
- Promo codes for up to 40% off various sexual wellness products
- Promo code for a 30-day free trial of Erika Lust
- Champ’s ultra thin condoms
- Hanx’s condoms
- Sexy stickers, one of which says “I look better bent over a book”
- Uberlube samples
- Plus One pop-up vibrator with 10 different vibration settings
and before you ask, yes, the water-based lube and vibrator are TSA-friendly to avoid a potentially awkward encounter at the security line in the airport.
Ultimately, the 3-day Inaugural Sexological Conference was one to remember and provided a groundbreaking experience for sexuality professionals to sharpen their educational and clinical toolbox. Want to stay up to date with upcoming events hosted by SHA?
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