1st Annual AltSex NYC Conference 2016

The first annual AltSex NYC Conference was held on April 22, 2016 at the Jerry Orbach Theater.

8:15 to 8:30AM — Welcome Address by Michael Aaron, PhD and Dulcinea Pitagora, MA, LMSW

8:30 to 10AM — Keynote Address by Margaret Nichols, PhD
Click to view PDF of slides:“Kink is Good: BDSM in the Context of New Models of Sex and Gender Variance”

MargieNichols3aBeginning with the removal of homosexuality from the DSM in 1973, there has been a sea change in the way psychiatry and mental health regard all sex and gender variant people. The paradigm is changing from a model that pathologizes sex and gender variance to one that sees this kind of diversity as normal and part of the natural order of things. Dr. Nichols explains the changes, describes the evidence against the pathology model, and discuss alternative models of sexual diversity.

Margaret Nichols, Ph.D. is a psychologist, sex therapist, and founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Personal Growth, a psychotherapy organization in New Jersey specializing in sex therapy and other clinical work with the sex and gender diverse community.

10 to 10:05AM — Break

10:05 to 11:05AM — Zhana Vrangalova, PhD
Click to view PDF of slides: “Myths and Realities of Consensual Non-Monogamy”

ZhanaVrangalovaDespite strong cultural norms favoring strict monogamy as the only acceptable relationship structure, many people repeatedly fail in their attempts to remain completely monogamous with long-term partners. More and more individuals are actively exploring or expressing interest in trying consensually nonmonogamous forms of relationships. Dr. Vrangalova presents a review of the research that examines whether consensually nonmonogamous relationships are linked to negative psychological, sexual, relational, and physical health consequences.

Dr. Zhana Vrangalova is a New York City-based sex researcher, writer, and educator. Dr. Vrangalova has a PhD in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University, and is currently an adjunct professor at the NYU Psychology department teaching Human Sexuality.

11:05AM to 12:05PM — Dulcinea Pitagora, MA, LMSW, Michael Aaron, PhD
Click to view PDF of slides: “The Kink-Poly Confluence: Community Intersections and Clinical Approaches”
Click to view PDF of the article: Pitagora, D. (2016). Sexual and Relationship Therapy.

DAPThough there has been very little research published on the intersection of polyamorous- and kink-identified individuals, the kink-poly overlap tends to be acknowledged, accepted, and depathologized in both communities, and polyamory is sometimes considered a norm in certain kink subcultures. Pitagora will discuss common themes in the kink and poly communities and the diversity of identifications and relationship structures, common clinical issues, and recommended therapeutic approaches.

Dulcinea Pitagora is an AltSex NYC Conference co-organizer; licensed therapist; and the founder of ManhattanAlternative.com. Pitagora has a practice in NYC working with individuals, couples, and multi-partner relationships.

12:05 to 1:20PM — Lunch Break Explore NYC’s theater district!

1:20 to 2:20PM — Michael Aaron, PhD
Click to view PDF of slides: “Facing Your Shadow: The Healing Potential of Psychological Edge Play”

MichaelAaronIndividuals who belong to the BDSM subculture are often pathologized and misunderstood, often because their activities may appear to be extreme or highly unusual. This workshop provides a psychological basis for understanding BDSM edge play within a strengths-based context. By pulling from various sources such as opponent-process theory, control-mastery theory, Jungian archetypes, and current research on trauma, this workshop provides a foundation for understanding psychological edge play through the lens of personal empowerment, rather than traumatic re-enactment.

Dr. Michael Aaron is an AltSex NYC Conference co-organizer, and a nationally certified sex therapist and clinical sexologist. Dr. Aaron specializes in working with sexual minorities, alternative/kink/polyamory lifestyles, sex workers, discordant desire and infidelity in couples, sexual dysfunction and anxiety, gender and orientation confusion, and sexual compulsivity.

2:20 to 3:20PM — Rosalyn Dischiavo, EdD, MA, CSES
Click to view PDF of slides: “Metamorphosis: Braving Transitions in Polyamorous Relationships”

RozDischiavoPolyamory is not subculture so much as counter-culture, and it requires nothing less than constant flexibility as well as commitment in the face of uncharted dynamics in an unsupportive society. Polyamorous relationships go through consistent transitions unfamiliar to other lovestyles, and operate in a truly different paradigm. This session will present several common polyamorous transitions, discuss the implications, and explore ways to support poly groups and families moving through such challenges.

Rosalyn Dischiavo, EdD, MA, CSES is a professor and educator with a background in individual, partners and family therapy. She founded the Institute for Sexuality Education & Enlightenment, an AASECT-approved institutional training program for therapists and educators.

3:20 to 3:30PM — Break

3:30 to 4:30PM — David Ortmann, LCSW
Click to view PDF of presentation outline: “Age Play: Eros, Practicality, and Walking the Edge”
Click to view PDF of recommended reading list: Age Play Reading List.

DOIndividuals who engage in age play, a form of edge play in the BDSM and Kink communities, do so for a variety of reasons. This presentation provides psycho- education about age play, focuses on the different levels age play occupies in terms of erotic age orientations, how and why it appeals to certain sexual minorities, and how it can be employed in a strengths based context to provide empowering and sometime reparative psychological and erotic experiences.

David Ortmann is a licensed psychotherapist, sex therapist, educator, keynote speaker, and author living in New York City and San Francisco. David is a dynamic, engaging and passionate therapist and healer, bringing seventeen years experience to the practice of psychotherapy and sex therapy, and offers individual and relationship sessions in San Francisco and Manhattan.

4:30 to 5:05PM — Panel Discussion & Final Words (Optional: Attendance not required for CEs)

7 to 10PM — Post-Conference Happy Hour

The post-conference networking happy hour mixer was held at Jerome’s private back room 155 Rivington Street Lower East Side, NYC.


Left to right: attendee, Dulcinea Pitagora, Michael Aaron, attendee, Zhana Vrangalova, Russell Stambaugh

The 1st Annual AltSex NYC Conference was produced by Michael Aaron, PhD and Dulcinea Pitagora, MA, LMSW.

Click here to read attendee testimonials from the 1st Annual AltSex NYC Conference.

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