Why is Affirmative Psychotherapy Important?
Being LGBTQIA+*, consensually non-monogamous, or a kinkster entails unique challenges. Sexuality-, gender-, and/or relationship-expansive people face discrimination in employment, housing, religion, and even with medical and mental health service providers. Many face abandonment or erasure from family and friends. Additionally, these communities are not cohesive, and discrimination can be also found within.
As a result, members of sexuality-, gender-, and/or relationship-expansive communities seek mental health services at a higher rate than their cisgender, heterosexual, non-kink and/or monogamous counterparts. They often struggle to find psychotherapists who will understand their unique experiences, provide a safe space, and demonstrate knowledge in working with LGBTQIA+, consensually non-monogamous, and/or kink clients.
*LGBTQIA+ refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, queer, transgender, gender nonbinary, intersex, asexual, and other related communities. Consensually non-monogamous (CNM) refers to polyamorous, swinging, relationship anarchy and other open relationship models. Kink refers to fetish, bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism, masochism, and other non-vanilla communities.
What is an Affirmative Psychotherapist?
Affirmative psychotherapists have experience, training, and expertise in working with sexuality-, gender-, and relationship-expansive communities rather than simply having an interest in doing so. Affirmative psychotherapists understand the implications of intersectionality for LGBTQIA+, consensually non-monogamous, and/or kink clients who are also people of color, disabled, neurodiverse, or sex workers, or who hold other marginalized identities. Affirmative psychotherapists are skilled at addressing the mental health concerns of LGBTQIA+, consensually non-monogamous, and/or kink clients.
What Affirmative CE Courses Do We Offer?
Finding quality CE courses as a psychotherapist can be difficult. Locating accurate and engaging continuing education about sexuality and gender can be even harder!
Many continuing education courses focus on content rather than the therapeutic process. By concentrating on vocabulary and statistics about marginalized communities, CE courses may fail to help psychotherapists understand the experiences of their clients, or to offer effective interventions.
In contrast, our courses focus on a wide variety of clinical issues with sexuality-, gender-, and relationship-expansive clients, and are delivered by a diverse group of instructors. Most instructors represent the communities about which they are presenting. Some instructors may be from these communities, but may not be out in personal and/or professional spaces. We believe that lived experience alone isn’t enough: formal training and experience is required for anyone interested in becoming an affirmative therapist.
All of our courses are taught by mental health professionals with extensive experience with clinical work and/or mental health research with these communities. Our instructors are supported by our diverse team of staff, who ensure that course content meets affirmative principles and standards.
Most of our continuing education courses are specific in scope and go beyond a 101 level to touch on more advanced concepts relevant to LGBTQIA+, consensually non-monogamous, and kink community members. Since we add content regularly, psychotherapists can access ongoing training to stay up to date.
Clinics and group practices can also benefit from our CE courses by becoming organizational members of The Affirmative Couch. In addition, we offer affirmative organizational development consulting for clinics and group practices.
Do you provide CEs?
We are a CE provider approved by the American Psychological Association. Many state boards for marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, and licensed social workers accept CE courses by organizations sponsored by the APA, so make sure to check if your board will accept APA sponsored continuing education!
The Affirmative Couch, LLC is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Affirmative Couch, LLC maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
Licensing boards change regulations often, and while we attempt to stay abreast of their most recent changes, if you have questions or concerns about The Affirmative Couch’s courses meeting your specific board’s approval, we recommend you contact your board directly to obtain a ruling.
What Makes Our CE Courses Different?
Conferences, workshops, and online continuing education courses are the primary ways in which psychotherapists meet their CE requirements. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Conferences can be cost prohibitive due not only to registration fees, but also because of travel expenses and lost income associated with taking time off. In addition, sessions of interest may take place concurrently. Further, most talks are only one to two hours long, and are thus limited in depth on a given topic. With the pandemic, many conferences have been postponed or cancelled altogether.
Meantime, workshops can be a great way to get CE credits. But similarly to conferences, live courses can lead to lost income associated with time off from work as well as the disruption to client schedules. Additionally, the topics covered may not be relevant to what a psychotherapist needs to learn right now due to a new client or a client with a new presenting concern.
Online continuing education workshops are a lower cost option for training, but most websites offer only a few courses about LGBTQIA+ clients. These generally include basic information such as terminology, identification of privilege, and an introduction to clinical issues. Many websites just have an article or book chapter to read, which isn’t an engaging learning process for many people.
The Affirmative Couch is different: we offer intermediate to advanced CE courses for therapists online at a reasonable price. We have a mix of pre-recorded and live courses on Zoom to meet psychotherapists’ needs. Live workshops are recorded for those who cannot attend in real time or who wish to rewatch to enhance the learning process. You can check out our CE courses here.
Becoming an affirmative therapist isn’t just about taking one course or having experience with only one client. It takes ongoing investment in learning about affirmative psychotherapy, doing continuous inner work to decolonize our minds, and making a lifelong commitment to the liberation of sexuality-, gender-, and relationship-expansive communities. We offer Annual Memberships and Lifetime Memberships to individual psychotherapists who are invested in ongoing learning.
Become a Member
With the Annual Membership, you get all of our current courses and any courses we produce within 12 months of the date you sign up. It renews automatically and you can cancel at any time.
With the Lifetime Membership, you get all of our current courses and any future courses we develop for a one-time fee.