Every Wednesday The CSPH highlights a Sexuality Professional you should keep your eye on. Their backgrounds are very diverse in order to bring attention to the wide variety of amazing people working in the field. This week we bring you Gina Ogden!
1. What do you do in the field of sexuality?
I’m an AASECT certified sex therapy diplomate and supervisor, an associate professor at the Institute for Advanced Study aof Human Sexuality, and author of 9 books (so far) on sexuality, that have been translated into a lot of languages I can’t read. I conducted the first (and only) nationwide survey on sexuality and spirituality (ISIS) whose findings have served as the basis for the ISIS model I now teach internationally—it’s an integrative model for exploring sexual desire and intimacy.
2. Where are you based out of?
Cambridge Mass—though I teach many other places as a “freelance” teacher, and also drive across the country every winter to teach ISIS programs on the West Coast—at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, and then fly down to Puerto Vallarta Mexico to teach a program to experienced ISIS practitioners. This year we’ll have three Swedish midwives there among others and we will play on the beach when we’re not working. It’s the best way of learning I know.
3. What is your focus? What do you do?
My career has evolved into teaching and writing about ISIS—integrating body, mind, heart, and spirit into the practice of sex therapy, counseling, coaching, and education. The ISIS core dynamics begin with the ability to create and hold the kind of safe and sacred space that engages our clients and students, and encourages them to change what doesn’t work in their lives and to step into more of what they truly want. It works on many levels; it’s lifechanging work, and my life changes with every ISIS group I’m involved with. Oh! And I’m going to be running an innovative writers conference with Patti Britton just before the AASECT conference—June 5, 2013: “Write Sex for Success!” All kinds of writing—academic, memoir, blogging, How-to. We have fabulous editors coming that you can pitch your work to!
4. What are your particular goals and passions in the field?
My goals and passions are to train more ISIS practitioners and to expand the ISIS network—not with the notion of taking over the world, but with the notion of broadening the criteria for responsible sex therapy and education beyond performance and medical issues to include emotional and spiritual and cultural issues, and help bridge the destructive divisions between human beings and the planet.
5. Why did you choose to work in this field?
Back in the mid 1970s, I started to get trained in family therapy, and found out nobody where I was training could answer the questions about sexuality that clients were bringing into our family therapy clinic—so I ended up going for a Phd in sexology and never looked back. Recently, I gave a plenary at the AAMFT conference (American Assoc. of Marriage and Family Therapy), and asked the audience of about 1,000 practitioners who were doing couples therapy and marriage and family therapy how many of them were trained in sex education or therapy and maybe 25 hands went up. So in that respect, we haven’t progressed from the 1970s.
6. Where did you go for school/training?
I got my MA in family therapy at Goddard College, and my PhD at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality.
7. Do you have any literature out (websites, articles)?
I’m currently working on my 10th book, “Sex Therapy Meets Shamanism”—this is about the inspirational level of the ISIS process. I just finished a clinical ISIS book, “Expanding the Practice of Sex Therapy,” which will be published by Routledge in May. I have three other books in print—“Women Who Love Sex,” “The Heart & Soul of Sex” and “The Return of Desire”—all with Shambhala. I’ve had a bunch of articles and book chapters published as well—the latest, (surprise! It’s about ISIS!) is titled “Keys to the Sexual Mysteries,” which came out in 2012 in “New Directions in Sex Therapy.” I’m listed as an expert on Your Tango. My website is www.GinaOgden.com
8. What would you recommend to future professionals attempting to get into the field?
Get trained in what you like to do best by the best people you can find, absorb all that they are able to teach you with great respect, and then don’t copy them. Instead, listen closely to your clients, students, audiences, customers—and use all of this juicy information to form your own way of being a sexuality professional.
9. What is the most challenging aspect for you working in this career?
The self doubt that was bred into me from birth. Do I have anything worthwhile to say? Will anyone listen to me? Yadda yadda. When it’s this old and this deep it never completely ends—but I’ve learned to laugh at it and just recognize it as a part of living this complex life.
10. One must read-what would you recommend? Why?
Well, I’m a recovering English teacher, so if I’m limited to only one must-read, I’d have to say the entire collected works of Shakespeare—because Shakespeare really got that we are all sexual beings at any age and stage and race and creed, that sex is fun—and also that we need to align with nature and with the spirit world: there’s much more to life and sexual relationship than anyone can count or measure. Besides, he revered old people, and I’m way up there on the age scale…so I like it when Lear says “Ripeness is all…”
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