CFINE’s Annual Fall Symposium 2019

When: Saturday, October 26, 2019 9am-5pm
Where: Smith College Conference Center, 51 College Lane, Northampton, MA
Keynote Speakers: Sidney Trantham, PhD and Acey Mercer, LMSW
Case Presentation Co-Moderated by: MaryAnna Domokos-Cheng Ham, EdD, LMFT and Nancy Knudsen, LMFT
Afternoon Workshops by: Sidney Trantham, PhD; Acey Mercer, LMSW; Steffani Brandenburg, LCSW, LICSW, CST; Julie Mencher, LICSW; Joseph Winn, LICSW, CST-S; and Jane Fleishman, PhD, MS, MEd, CSE
Target Audience: Mental Health Clinicians and Sex Therapists
CE’s**: 6 CE’s approved for LMFT’s, LICSW’s, LMHC’s, Lic. Psychologists, and AASECT

Co-Sponsored by:

The frameworks of gender and sexuality have shifted dramatically in recent years from discrete categories to conceptualizing both aspects of identity as a spectrum. Many therapists feel the need to play catch-up with these cultural shifts in order to understand our clients’ experiences and struggles. Becoming familiar with the new terminology and concepts is a critical first step. Applications to the clinical setting comes next.

This symposium began with a keynote presentation offering state-of-the-art information on sexual and gender identity by Sidney Trantham, PhD and Acey Mercer, LMSW. A case presentation followed with a panel of discussants to comment. Finally, there were two workshop slots in the afternoon offering a range of presentations on specific topics in working with clients across the gender and sexuality spectra.

Participants were able to:

  1. Define and conceptualize sexuality and gender identities as a spectrum
  2. Identify cultural and historical factors that contribute to LBGTQ+ identity formation
  3. Discuss ways to support sexual and gender diverse individuals and their families

Symposium Schedule

Introduction 9-9:15am
Keynote Presentations 9:15-10:45am
Break 10:45-11am
Case Study with Discussants 11am-12:15pm
Lunch 12:15-1:30pm
First Afternoon Workshop 1:30-3pm
Break 3-3:15pm
Second Afternoon Workshop 3:15-4:45pm
Closing Remarks 4:45-5pm

Are you keeping up with the times?

Listen to an interview with Nancy Knudsen, CFINE Director, about the Fall Symposium 2019.

Keynote Speakers

Sidney M. Trantham, PhD is an Associate Professor & Division Director for the Division of Counseling & Psychology at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He received his Ph.D. in 1999 from the University of Florida (Gainesville). His doctoral work focused on exploring the impact of early childhood sexual experiences on the psychological functioning of adult males. He was a Harvard Clinical Fellow (1996-2000) at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he completed his clinical psychology internship and neuropsychological post-doctoral fellowships, as well as engaged in research identifying early cognitive markers of HIV-related dementia. His work at Fenway Health (1999-2006) in Boston, Massachusetts included working with adults to address a variety of issues related to sexual identity development. Dr. Trantham maintains a private practice where he provides integrative psychological, neuropsychological, and gender assessment as well as mental health counseling with children, adolescents, adults, and families. Areas of clinical interest and expertise include working with transgender and non-binary children and adolescents, sexual and racial identity development, and mood disorders.

Acey A. Mercer, LMSW is a graduate of the University at Albany School of Social Welfare where he obtained his Master’s in Social Work. Prior to graduate school Acey studied at Radboud Universiteit in the Netherlands where his academic focus was in Gender and Sexuality Studies. These foci ignited Acey’s passion to further explore and examine human behavior, relationships and the dynamics of class, race, ability, gender and sexuality. These motivating factors drew Acey to pursue social work and ultimately to become a licensed psychotherapist and educator. Acey is currently Practice Manager at Choices Counseling & Consulting in Albany, NY where he oversees clinical referrals and is responsible for the overall daily operations. He is also a Clinician at Choices and counsels clients exploring gender identity and expression. He works with adults, youth, and their families as they navigate questions and challenges related to the social, legal and medical aspects of gender transition. Acey’s clinical lens gives a strong compliment to the professional education services he delivers as Senior Consultant of the Training Institute for Gender, Relationships, Identity, and Sexuality (TIGRIS). Acey specializes in providing clinical training and policy development as it relates to best serving transgender and nonbinary populations in medical, mental health and educational institutions.

MaryAnna Domokos-Cheng Ham, Ed.D., LMFT Nancy Knudsen

Afternoon Workshops

First Slot 1:30-3pm

Changing the Narrative: Paving the Way Towards Resilience for LBGTQ Identified Clients and Their Families with Sidney Trantham, PhD

LGBTQ+ individuals face a number of life challenges in a society that still privileges heterosexuality and a binary perspective on gender. While the challenges and hardships that LGBTQ+ individuals face can have negative impact on mental health and wellbeing, career development, and overall life satisfaction, too often the narrative presented to LGBTQ+ individuals is one in which their future is foreclosed as one in which they will be unhappy, disenfranchised, targeted for discrimination, and victims of violence. Specific information on positive outcomes for LGBTQ+ youth and examples of how to support LGBTQ+ youth and their families in moving towards a balanced approach to addressing challenges while supporting growth and development will be provided. A brief contextual presentation will be followed by case presentation and discussion.

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Therapist Discomfort and the Use of Self with Trans and Gender-Diverse Clients: A Workshop for Non-Trans Clinicians with Julie Mencher, LICSW

While differences between therapist and client are inevitable, manageable, and often productive, the relationship between the cisgender therapist and trans client brings its own particular complexities. Within the politically-, socially-, and clinically-charged territory of the exciting new gender frontier, the cisgender therapist can experience inadequacy, confusion, frustration, disgust, and other uncomfortable feelings in working with gender-diverse clients. If left unexamined, the therapist’s discomfort could ultimately cheat the client of the therapist’s full use of self and skills. This workshop will seek to establish a safe, open climate for dialogue about the many challenges faced by non-trans clinicians in working with this population.  A didactic presentation will be followed by case conferencing, in which participants will be encouraged to bring their most difficult moments to the light of day, as we brainstorm together how to recognize, work through, and utilize our feelings of discomfort in the service of our clients.

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Orienting to the Strengths and Challenges of Relational Therapy with LGBTQQIA +, Gender Non-Conforming, Kinky, Polyamorous, Swingers, and Consensually Non-Monogamous Relationships and Identities with Joseph Winn, LICSW, CST-S

With greater frequency, clinicians are engaging relational systems that identify as LGBTQQIA +, gender non-conforming, kinky, polyamorous, swingers, and consensually non-monogamous. These identities can challenge unacknowledged heteronormative biases and world views, resulting in therapists, un-intentional, introducing iatrogenic injury into the therapy process, reinforcing oppressions that LGBTQQIA +, gender non-conforming, kinky, polyamorous, swingers, and consensually non-monogamous people struggle with daily. This 90-minute workshop will provide therapists with tools to working effectively with varied relationship dynamics, and identities, while also considering the strengths and advantages these systems and identities may offer to monogamous couples. Specific topics will include exploring clinician bias, exploring ones sexological world view, and theoretical stances most helpful to working with relationship styles and identities that challenge heteronormative constructs of relational, sexual and erotic practices and identities. Particular emphasis will be placed on the role relational contracting as a tool of differentiation and optimal relational functioning.

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Second Slot 3:15-4:45pm

Supporting Families with Gender Diverse Youth with Acey Mercer, LMSW

Cultural competency, sensitivity training, and best practices are essential to understanding the complex mental health and development needs of transgender and nonbinary youth exploring their gender identity. This workshop will highlight that transgender emergence is a normative process of identity development and will challenge the view that gender variance is pathological. An overview of the issues impacting families of gender diverse youth with special attention to caregiver education and support and school-related advocacy will be explored. Resources and best practices for professionals working with families facing gender transition will be provided.

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Working with LBGTQ Relationships 50 Years Post Stonewall: Clinical and Cultural Considerations that Advance Positive Treatment Outcomes with Steffani Brandenburg, LCSW, LICSW, CST

Research has demonstrated that all couples, regardless of orientation, go through many similar developmental stages and challenges. However, to truly be effective in helping lesbian, gay, and sexual minority couples, it is imperative to utilize a historical, socio-cultural lens that challenges the dominant heteronormative societal assumptions (which the mental health profession is a part of) about relationships and sexuality. It is equally important to understand the unique challenges and vulnerabilities that result from homophobia and being a sexual minority, and how untreated Minority Stress might present itself within a relational context. This workshop will provide the practitioner assessment and intervention tools to improve clinical outcomes using a strength-based, attachment-oriented, and trauma-informed framework. Case examples and resources will be provided.

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Stonewall @ 50: Queering the Lens on Aging and Sex with Jane Fleishman, PhD, MS, MEd, CSE

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, often described as the catalyst for the modern “gay rights” movement in the U.S. Delving into the history of Stonewall can remind us of the courageous, inventive, and inspiring paths that LGBTQIA+ people have taken toward their own and others’ liberation against a backdrop of fear. Queering the lens on sex and aging allows us to view aging sexuality from a transformed perspective and propel clinicians to create environments that are welcoming, affirming, inclusive, and liberating for all sexual and gender minorities. Most research on sexuality of older LGBTQIA+ adults focus on sexual dysfunction or high-risk sexual behaviors. New research on queer bodies as a political battleground on the front lines will be covered. Highly interactive with a focus on practical applications.

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*Who qualifies for the Agency Clinician/Student Rate?
We offer this discounted rate to enable students and clinicians working in community mental health settings on a full-time basis to be able to participate. Group practices are not eligible.

**This activity has been certified by the New England Association for Family and Systemic Therapy (NEAFAST) on behalf of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health & Human Services Professions, for LMFT professional continuing education.

**This program meets the requirements of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) and is approved for 6 AASECT CE Credits. These CE Credits may be applied toward AASECT certification and renewal of certification.

**Continuing Education Credit is approved through Commonwealth Educational Seminars for the following professions:

  • Psychologists:
    Commonwealth Educational Seminars is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Commonwealth Educational Seminars maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • Licensed Professional Counselors/Licensed Mental Health Counselors:
    Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) is entitled to award continuing education credit for Licensed Professional Counselors/Licensed Mental Health Counselors. Please visit CES CE CREDIT to see all states that are covered for LPCs/LMHCs. CES maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • Social Workers:
    Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) is entitled to award continuing education credit for Social Workers. Please visit CES CE CREDIT to see all states that are covered for Social Workers. CES maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

Please note: It is the participant’s responsibility to check with their individual state boards to verify CE requirements for their state.

See our Cancellation and Grievance Policies

The Couple & Family Institute of New England (CFINE)’s training facilities are handicap accessible. Individuals needing special accommodations, please contact Lindsay Swan, CFINE Administrator, at (413) 341-0543 or