Sara Nasserzadeh, PhD DipPST CSC, is a social psychologist, researcher and clinician who joined us at Sessions Live 2019 to walk us through a "Sexual Attitude Reassessment-A Taster", which helps promote participants’ awareness of their attitudes and values related to sexuality, and to assist them in understanding how these attitudes and values affect them professionally and personally. She has also appeared on the Sessions Platform, where she and Esther talk about Cultural Proficiency in Therapy.
To find out more about Sara's work and upcoming projects and events, visit www.sara-nasserzadeh.com.
There are different styles of love that were initially introduced by the Greek and later on expanded on by others. In our society, there is a huge emphasis on Eros or erotic and sexual love without much consideration of the self that needs to experience and express this type of love.
At Sessions Live, in our SAR-Taster experience, we focused on Philautia which literally means friends of the self, also known as, Love of the Self. Norms that are shaped around different forms of love and the way they are regarded, rewarded or punished vary across cultures. Love of the self and egotism have been closely related through centuries with negative connotations. Therefore, speaking of self-love is not encouraged in most sociocultural contexts. Particularly in professions where one is to care for others. I look at it as loving many through one.
Research shows that compassion fatigue and emotional burnout is a critical health issue for mental and medical health providers. Many therapists report that their own sex life and coupledom suffer because of the work they do with clients. They often say that they offer “everything they have” to their clients therefore there is not much left for them to leverage in their own intimate lives.
One resolution that we discussed was to practice compassion (being there for one’s clients) versus empathy (being there with them) as a fundamental principle that could be cultivated to allow for a practice of self-love while catering to other’s needs.
Sexuality Attitude Reassessment (SAR) can be viewed as a form of a self-care for the clinicians, researchers and educators. The idea is to expose the provider to multiple scenarios which they might not usually be exposed to in order to create an authentic emotional and intellectual reaction in them and provide a safe space for them to process these feelings and thoughts. This is to reach a level of growth needed before working with clients with any presenting sexual issues which could be protective of them while serving their clients.
SAR addresses sociocultural norms, discuss cases, question the status quo and offer alternatives. For example, language is the least efficient medium we have to communicate with one another, however, in most cases it is all we have. At a holistic SAR, we talk about the language we use to express our experiences and the impact it has on us as well as our clients. For example, “having an orgasm” is loaded with expectations about a destination to reach to while “experiencing orgasm” leaves room for some sense of agency and autonomy of experience for the individual. Or the use of language “labia minora and labia majora” implies that the inner lips should be shorter than the outer lips which is not true for most adult women.
SAR in North America is a minimum of two days. If you are interested, look for one that is approved by the American Association for Sexuality Educators Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). Below are upcoming opportunities and resources.
Upcoming events and resources:
Dr. Sara Nasserzadeh, award-winning author, award-winning creator and host of the first BBC World Service TV program on sexuality in the Middle East called Whispers.
She is an accredited couples therapist and psychosexual Therapist by the college of sex and relationship therapists (COSRT). Approved training provider and certified sexuality counselor by AASECT and Advisory board member of the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS). She has worked across 38 countries and is based in LA California.