Keyontes & Presentations

Each of these can be delivered in a keynote or workshop format. They can also be expanded to ½ day training modules to include experiential learning components.

LGBT Muslims and Mental Health
This presentation will draw on academic literature, personal lived experience, and community organizing work with Salaam Canada, a national LGBTQ Muslim organization. We will unravel the tensions that affect the mental health of LGBTQ Muslims, including managing homophobia and coming out, reconciling sexuality and faith-based identities, being both critical of Islam and fighting Islamophobia, seeking and creating affirming spaces, acculturation for asylum seekers and Canadian-born LGBTQ Muslims, and religious-cultural factors affecting access to mental health services.

Casual Sex vs Long Term Relationships: Reconciling Conflicting Scripts for Gay Men
Gay men’s mental health is often discussed in contexts of sexual health and HIV prevention. This presentation offers a different framework for understanding gay men's mental health concerns by positioning them as responses to conflicting cultural scripts and representations around casual sex and long term relationships. We will explore what issues arise when working in a landscape where both casual sex and long term relationships are revered and criticized on an ongoing basis without adequate representations and community conversations about what reconciled scripts can look like or what skills are needed to actualize relationship models that work for gay men.

Mirror, Mirror: Queer Men and Body Image
This interactive workshop on queer men and body image will ask audience members to reflect on cultural messages around ‘good’ bodies, food, fatphobia and thin privilege. Participants will examine what body image challenges look like in queer men's communities. We will explore and discuss counselling/clinical questions and approaches to addressing body image issues with queer men drawing on cognitive behavioral, acceptance & commitment, Gestalt, and psychodynamic tools.

Harm Reduction in the Context of LGBTQ Communities
Harm reduction approaches have become the gold standard for many public service agencies working with substance users. However, while many of us know “our politics” around harm reduction, it can be useful to collectively reflect on how we define problem substance use and build a framework to understand the context of use in the lives of LGBTQ people. This presentation will discuss  the multiple functions of alcohol and drugs in our lives and consider when use is a problem and when is it not. We will draw on the ABC model (activator-behaviour-consequence) derived from Structured Relapse Prevention (published by CAMH) to explore what specific harm reduction strategies can look like before, during, and after using.

Mental Health in LGBT2S Communities
This presentation will begin with a review of social determinants of mental health for LGBT2S communities. We will then explore each letter of the identity-acronym (L-G-B-T-2S) to identify common developmental experiences for each subpopulation group, ranging from unique identity-related stressors to specific experiences of marginalization. We will then consider how these stressors and experiences can be used to inform our understanding of the mental health needs and implications for counselling in each of these communities.

Shame & Sexuality
Many queer guys feel bad about who they are and what they desire. Even after we “come out” past negative experiences have already left their imprint. There is a residue from internalized messages about what it means to be a queer man in a straight world.  From the lens of a queer racialized man and clinical social worker, this presentation will consider how systems of homophobia and racism can manifest themselves as chronic shame. We will take an exploratory approach to examine how shame interferes with queer men’s execution of desire, shapes the motivation for partner-seeking, and reinforces HIV stigma in our communities.

Sex-Positivity: Definitions, Declarations, & Applications
Front line workers and organizations are increasingly describing their approach to service as 'sex-positive'. But, what does this mean? Are there multiple definitions? Are there limitations? Are there specific ways to be sex-positive? This interactive knowledge building session will answer these questions by reviewing some of the popular ideas around what it means to be both sex-positive and sex-negative while also beginning a conversation around providing sex-positive services to the frequent target groups of sex-negativity: women, sex workers, and gay/bisexual men. Brief case scenarios will also be used to generate group discussion.

Ciscentrism in HIV Testing Settings
This workshop will provide a nuanced pre/post test counselling roadmap for delivering queer and trans inclusive HIV and STI testing services. This session will discuss what appropriate questions look like when working with queer, and particularly trans-identified, service users as well as common roadblocks for service providers in collecting comprehensive sexual histories and delivering appropriate transmission and risk reduction information. Factors which may heighten experiences of inclusion/exclusion for trans people will be explored. Presenter(s) can offer a mock testing role-play and facilitate discussion for participants.

Understanding & Counselling Clients with High Anxiety & Low to No Risk for HIV
People with high anxiety around HIV acquisition but very low risk have often been disregarded as the “worried well.” We know from experiences in testing settings that objective risk assessments, providing point-of-care testing, and reassurance are often not enough for this group of service users. In fact, these interventions on their own can sorely miss the mark. Drawing on sociological literature and the HHANLR Guidelines (2009), this workshop will help participants unpack the many layers of service user anxiety and provide examples of how to support clients, both in a short interaction as seen in sexual health settings and in longer-term psychotherapy relationships.

“How Did This Happen?” Supporting Family Dialogue When Someone Comes Out
LGBTQ people, in their own resilient ways, often find their way to needed information, resources, answers to burning questions, and community. After LGBTQ people “come out” to their family members, there are often many questions that surface and family members (whether parents, siblings or spouses) find themselves in places of isolation. This isolation can be particularly pronounced in racialized communities and in families with histories of fairly recent immigration. This presentation is intended to alleviate the burden of educating others that LGBTQ people often face and reduce the isolation family members often contend with by answering common questions family members ask when someone “comes out”.