October 4-5, 2012
University of Calgary, Faculty of Social Work
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Join Esther Perel as she shares her bold new take on intimacy, sexuality and infidelity that shakes up traditional thinking about the paradoxes of love and desire. Safety and empathy promote secure connection, but curiosity and mystery are the necessary ingredients for erotic connection.
Based on the international bestseller: “Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence” (translated into 24 languages), we will examine the obstacles and anxieties that arise when our quest for secure love conflicts with our pursuit of passion. Scanning the cultural pressures that shape domesticated sex, we investigate the puzzling inverse correlation between greater emotional intimacy and loss of sexual desire. Combining lecture, clinical video vignettes and experiential exercises, we will show how to navigate secrets in couples work; clinical dilemmas and interventions around sex, love and power; infidelity and how to move forward.
In particular, we will address common blocks to eroticism including the fear of abandonment or entrapment; the connection between attachment history and erotic blueprint “tell me how you were loved, I will tell you how you make love”; the familial feelings that lead to the de-sexualization of partners; the shame, guilt and worry that preclude the pursuit of pleasure and lastly, what distinguishes “sensual love” from “comfort love”.
Couples therapy has traditionally focused on two partners occupying a shared space with a neutral third party, striving toward greater honesty and transparency. Couples are engaged as a unit, and therapists are discouraged from seeing partners separately lest power balances or allegiances be disturbed. What’s lost in this approach to couples therapy?
To effectively engage such issues as intimacy, sexuality and infidelity, therapists must create separate spaces where each partner can explore his/her feelings and experiences along with larger relationship dynamics. Couples therapy can best succeed in combinations of one and two.
With an eye on the existential, clinical and ethical aspects involved, we will focus on how our own assumptions, values, and personal experiences can influence our therapeutic work and elude the needs of the couple. The workshop draws on attachment and psychoanalytic theory, as well as on family systems and body-oriented approaches.