This Home Study Program is adapted from Sexual Identity, Gender Identity: Staying Current in a Rapidly Changing Landscape that was audio recorded as a live event on October 26, 2019.

When: Anytime (Distance Learning/Home Study)
Keynote Speakers: Sidney Trantham, PhD and Acey Mercer, LMSW
Case Study Co-Moderated by: MaryAnna Domokos-Cheng Ham, EdD, LMFT and Nancy Knudsen, LMFT; with Discussants: 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

Workshops by: Acey Mercer, LMSW and Joseph Winn, LICSW, CST-S
Target Audience: Mental Health Clinicians and Sex Therapists
CEs: This program does not offer CEs
Full Rate – $35; Agency Clinician/Student Rate* — $25; Equity Rate* — $25

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 home study program begins 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 follows with a panel of discussants to comment. Finally, there are workshops by Acey Mercer, LMSW and Joseph Winn, LICSW, CST-S offering presentations on specific topics in working with clients across the gender and sexuality spectra.

At the conclusion of this program, participants will be better 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
  4. Discuss the unique developmental issues impacting the lives of gender diverse youth
  5. Identify specific parenting practices and their influence on the mental health and resiliency of trans and nonbinary youth
  6. Identify clinical biases and sexological world-views that undermine systemic work with LGBTQQIA +, gender non-conforming, kinky, polyamorous, and consensually non-monogamous relational systems

Are you keeping up with the times?

Watch an interview with Acey Mercer, LMSW, about the Fall Symposium 2019.

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




Keynote Presentations

Beyond the Binary with Acey Mercer, LMSW

Our conceptualizations of gender are heavily influenced by societal constructs and expectations. Binary categorizations such as man/woman, masculine/feminine have ultimately rendered many identities invisible. As the number of transgender and gender nonbinary people accessing mental health services increases, so too does the need for culturally competent and empathetic care.

Nonexistent or narrow scopes of practice perpetuate the stigmatization and health disparities of transgender populations. Given this area presents such a large gap in the knowledge base of professionals, this keynote presentation strives to not only stimulate awareness but to improve cultural competency for trans-affirming clinical care. Participants will be encouraged to self-reflect and challenge inherent assumptions that shape and perpetuate expectations surrounding sex and gender. Exploration of the components of gender identity will equip participants with language and knowledge necessary to expand their clinical practice beyond the binary.

Primer on Sexuality with Sidney M. Trantham, PhD

Sexual orientation is more than just straight or gay. Increasingly individuals are defining their sexual identities in ways that challenge binary ways of thinking. The multiplicity of sexual identities can often lead some to experience confusion and anxiety because of lack of knowledge of the various sexual identities and terms. This workshop is designed to provide an overview of a variety of current sexual identities and terms.

Recorded Workshop Descriptions

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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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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Workshop Descriptions with Handouts Only (Not Recorded)

*These workshops were not recorded to protect client confidentiality.

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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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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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.

Joseph Winn LICSW, CST-S received his MSW from The Boston University School of Social Work in 1995. Joe has completed extensive post-graduate training in domestic violence, and family and couples therapy with a particular interest in structural, strategic, Bowenian, collaborative language systems and post-modern models of intervention. Joe is also an AASECT certified sex therapist, and AASECT certified supervisor of sex therapy. Joe has been self-employed in private practice since 2006 has a thriving supervisory practice and maintains an office in West Concord, Massachusetts. Joe works primarily with mixed gender, LGBTQQIA + individuals, couples in open and consensual non-monogamy, polyamory and kink and has a particular interest in high conflict couples, and couples looking to regain pleasure and trust-based sexuality after sexual assault and abuse. While drawing from a variety of couples therapy models including EFT, experiential, and object relations, Joe resonates most strongly with Bader and Pearson’s Development Model of couples therapy. Joe is also a member of the training faculty with The South Shore Sexual Health Center, in Quincy, Massachusetts. SSSHC is an AASECT approved training program for clinicians looking to become AASECT Certified Sex Therapists.

Additional Discussants & Workshop Presenters

Jane Fleishman, PhD, MS, MEd, CSE is a Certified Sexuality Educator, researcher, and writer with more than 40 years’ experience. After retiring as the Director of Medical Education and Staff Development at a large psychiatric hospital, Jane pursued her PhD and began her successful encore career in human sexuality. In her recent TEDx talk “Is it OK for Grandma to have sex?” she articulates her mission to promote the sexual well-being of older adults. Her recently published research assessing the sexual satisfaction of aging adults in same-sex relationships is available here. Dr. Fleishman’s focus on changing the ways older adults’ sexuality is perceived allows her to bring together decades of experience in organizing, educating, researching, and implementing lasting change across a wide variety of disciplines. In 2000, she received Governor’s Service Award in Healing of Racism; in 2015, a Graduate Scholar Award from the Aging and Society Knowledge Community; and in 2016, the William R. Stayton Award for Leadership in the field of human sexuality. In 2020 her book on sexuality aging will be released by Skinner House Press. Visit her website at:

Julie Mencher LICSW is a therapist, clinical consultant, and educator in Northampton MA who specializes in working with the LGBTQ community. Her organizational consulting work focuses on helping pre-K through college educational institutions and health care organizations in several countries to work toward trans inclusion and trans-competency. Formerly, Julie was the Transgender Specialist at Smith College (2001-2004), adjunct professor at Smith College School for Social Work, and Visiting Scholar at the Stone Center and Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at Wellesley College. She has published book chapters and articles in clinical journals and the media on LGBTQ topics, and is the co-author of the chapter, “Two Middle-Aged, White, Jewish, Cisgender Lesbians Sitting Around Talking About Trans Sex,” in Sex, Sexualities, and Trans Identities (2019, forthcoming from Jessica Kingsley Publishing). Her general psychotherapy and clinical consultation practice includes a focus on working with LGBT clients, particularly with the parents of gender-nonconforming and trans youth.

Steffani Brandenburg, LCSW, LICSW, CST is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Psychotherapist with a full-time private practice in Mt. Kisco, New York. She is a Certified Emotionally Focused Therapist and Approved Supervisor through The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, with advanced training in psychoanalytic psychodynamic psychotherapy, attachment and trauma-informed therapy including EMDR. Ms. Brandenburg has over 30 years of experience working with individuals and couples and specializes in working with LGBTQ identified individuals and mixed and same-gender couples. As a leading professional in the field of human relationships, Ms. Brandenburg has extensive experience providing clinical consultation, advanced clinical training and professional and community education throughout the New York Tristate area.


MaryAnna Domokos-Cheng Ham, Ed.D., LMFTMaryAnna Domokos-Cheng Ham, EdD, LMFT is a Professor Emerita at the University of Massachusetts Boston. From 1985-2005 she was a tenured faculty in the Department of Counseling and School Psychology. While at UMass Boston she founded and developed the Family Therapy Program, and was its director. After 18 years of institutional development, FTP was awarded full certification from COAMFTE, (Commission On Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education) the accrediting body of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Her scholarship has been focused on issues of diversity, biracial coupleships, and ethics. For over 30 years she has provided family, couple, and individual therapy to diverse racial, cultural, gender identified populations. Although well versed in many modalities of therapy, her clinical focus is systemic  therapies, in particular post-modern and social construction approaches including narrative therapy. Currently, Dr. Ham maintains a private practice in Northampton, MA. She is also a Master Therapist for Couples Therapy Inc, an online therapy practice that treats couples located internationally and throughout the United States. Throughout her work, MaryAnna maintains her commitment to social justice and respectful communication. Visit her website here.

Nancy Knudsen

Nancy Knudsen, LMFT is a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Northampton, MA with over 30 years experience in the field. She has used a family systems orientation over the years to work with individuals, couples, and families on a wide range of issues. Over the past 10 years, Nancy’s primary clinical modality has been Emotionally Focused Therapy. She is a certified EFT therapist as well as a certified EFT supervisor, and served two years as the Assistant Director of the New England EFT Community. Nancy has taught a number of workshops on EFT for professionals, and has facilitated over 12 couples weekend workshops using the Hold Me Tight® Program developed by Dr Sue Johnson. Additionally, she is a Past President of the Massachusetts Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and an AAMFT Approved Supervisor. Her most recent enterprise is co-founding and co-directing the Couple and Family Institute of New England.

*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.

*Equity Rate: This registration option is for participants with historical/institutional barriers to access. Please choose equity pricing only if you are a member of one or more historically marginalized communities.

This program is being offered independent of any commercial support or conflict of interest. Clinicians with any level of experience are welcome to participate.

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