SkyHill Forum

December 2014 Newsletter

January 22, 2015

Written by Rick Laska, MSW, LGSW

Stress and Sex

Is it truly the most wonderful time of year?  It’s getting darker earlier, we’re exposed to less sun, and the decreased temperatures can make it more difficult to choose to be outside.  If we celebrate the holidays, that can mean spending money in ways our bank accounts weren’t ready for, yet.  It can mean trying to acknowledge all of our family and friends despite having limited time (or desire).  But in general, there seems to be more hustle and bustle as the year comes to an end and everyone is in a rush to meet work and personal obligations.

With increased commitments often comes increased stress.  Increased stress in our lives can also mean our sex lives take a nose-dive.  Stress can negatively impact our body image, mess with our desire and arousal, put strain on our relationships, lead to easy ways of coping that negatively impact our health (such as heavy smoking or drinking), and impact our hormone levels.

Although it may seem like one more thing to add to the list, taking care of ourselves during this time of year (and actually year-round) is extremely important.  Taking care of ourselves can look like many different things - from getting a massage, to building something with our hands; from getting together with our closest friends, to meeting with our therapists more frequently; from taking a moment away from the party to take a few deep breaths, to sneaking away for a kiss (or more).  Taking a few mindful moments out of your day can keep some of the passion in your life and make this time of year truly wonderful and sexy!

The SkyHill Experience - Rick Laska, MSW, LGSW

Caring, compassionate, affirming, and accepting - those are just a few of the words clients have used to describe Rick Laska, Sex and Relationship Therapist at SkyHill.  Rick has his Masters in Social Work and is a Licensed Graduate Social Worker.  He has completed an intensive Sexuality Training Program offered through the Neighborhood Involvement Program and is currently completing the requirements for AASECT sex therapist certification.  He has worked as an educator and counselor in the HIV/AIDS field for over 7 years, and has been a sex educator for over 15 years.

“Being a supportive, healing presence for my clients, regardless of who they are or what issues they may be bringing to me, has always been important to me,” says Laska.  “Issues around sexuality can bring up such shame and guilt and I want to help people feel heard and empowered.” 

This philosophy is part of what has helped Rick work successfully within the HIV/AIDS field, LGBTQIAA-identified clients, as well as his work with victims of sexual trauma.  He also has a strong background in working with individuals facing chemical dependency issues and compulsive sexual behaviors.  In his work, Laska co-authored a nationally-recognized training for chemical dependency treatment staff and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors to work with individuals living with HIV and address sexual health issues. 

“Sex-negative culture can make already difficult treatment issues so much more difficult to explore with people due to their experiences of embarrassment.  My hope in working in the field of human sexuality is to change some of the shaming culture that can emerge within it.”  To learn more about working with Rick, or any of the therapists at SkyHill, call 952-562-7837 or email info@skyhilltherapy.com.

Events

Mindful Sexuality

Sex is an important part of life, but it can be difficult to stay mentally present in sensual moments.  For some people, this can lead to performance anxiety, sexual dysfunction, or sex that isn’t satisfying or intimate.  This 8 week group will help you identify and practice mindfulness techniques to embody your individual and partnered sexual experiences. 

Mindfulness can help manage symptoms of depression and anxiety, heal from sexual trauma, and manage other mental health issues you may face.  You will also explore ways to be sexually mindful and empowered in your daily life!  Each session costs $25 per session and the group runs for 8 weeks.  For more information or to enroll, call Rick at 612-564-9199 or email rick@skyhilltherapy.com.

November 2014 Newsletter

January 22, 2015

Written by Rick Laska, MSW, LGSW

Sex and Substance Use

What are some of the components of a romantic evening?  Some people often think of the setting, the mood, food, music, chocolate, and a bottle of champagne.  What are some of the components of addiction?  Some people might think of loud music, big parties, sex, light shows, multi-substance use, and clubs or bars.  Ask someone to fill in the blank - ______, drugs & rock’n’roll; most people are going to say, “sex!” 

There seems to be a strong tie between sex and substance use, whether it be a romantic evening or a wild house party.  Research has shown that substances and sex affect the same part of the brain.  It’s certainly no wonder that they can become so entwined in our lives.  We also know that some substance use experiences are associated with decreased social anxiety related to decision making - a person can go into a sexual experience that they may otherwise hesitate to do or have held themselves back from.  This can feel freeing for some individuals and devastating for others.

For some people, this devastation to sex and relationships can become a regular occurrence.  Substance use can become a necessary part of sex instead of a casual way to enhance it.  It can sometimes lead to distress, family issues, financial issues, legal issues, and health complications.  Talking with a therapist about the ties between your substance use and sex can help you identify whether or not you want substances to be a part of your sex life.  It can also help you set boundaries so you remain in control of your use.  A therapist may even be a sounding board to explore more in-depth services such as accessing a needle exchange, setting therapeutic goals related to your substance use, or enrolling in chemical dependency treatment.

If you would like to explore your substance use in a nonjudgmental environment, contact the therapists at SkyHill.  We work from a risk reduction perspective, meaning we help you reach the goals that you set for yourself; this may mean stopping all substance use for some, while for others it means using substances less frequently.  To learn more, head to skyhilltherapy.com, email us at info@skyhilltherapy.com or call us as 952-562-7837.

The SkyHill Experience - Laura Rademacher, MA, LAMFT

Professional, experienced, and knowledgeable - Laura Rademacher embodies these traits in her work, everyday.  In addition to providing evidence-based, culturally-appropriate sex therapy, Laura has her masters in Marriage and Family Therapy and is currently pursuing AASECT-certification for sex therapy.  As Director of Education, Laura keeps a watchful eye on cutting-edge research in the field of sexology to not only assist SkyHill be a leader in delivering sex and relationship therapy, but to develop curriculum for mental and behavioral health professionals to ensure best-practices.

Rademacher has a strong history as a sex educator, starting her work both volunteering as a birth control educator and working as a sex educator/sex toy sales person at The Smitten Kitten in Minneapolis (http://smittenkittenonline.com).  In addition to this, she co-hosted 2 podcasts, one which focused on the diverse experiences in human sexuality, and the other in which she brought sexuality to the discussion of holistic health.  “I loved what I was doing,” says Rademacher.  “Providing sex and relationship therapy was the next step in helping people do more in-depth work.  Although I was helping individuals in the short amount of time I was working with them in those past roles, I wanted to be there for them in an on-going, ethical way.”

A large part of Laura’s work is to help people receive not only up-to-date sex education, but also include pleasure as a part of the discussion.  “So many people learn about reproduction and the transmission of sexually-transmitted infections but never learn about making sex feel great.  My hope is for them to have the sex life they want with themselves and/or others they have dreamed about.”

Laura’s training and continued work involves a commitment inclusion of all genders, orientations, and relationship styles.  She spent time working at Pride Institute’s Intensive Outpatient with the LGBTQ community, leading sexual health and sexual trauma groups.  “Recovery can be challenging for people of all identities.  So many people think that sobriety can be out of reach due to sexual concerns; they’re afraid they will lose their sexual identity if they address their substance use.  I feel that part of my job is to assist my clients in finding a way to build a sex life that leaves them satisfied and also supports their chemical health goals.”

To learn more about working with Laura, or any of the staff at SkyHill, email us at info@skyhilltherapy.com or call us as 952-562-7837.

Groups at SkyHill

Sober Sex

Sober sex can be the best sex of your life!  For many people in recovery, the idea of sex while sober can be scary and 12-step programs often overlook this important aspect of sobriety.  This group will examine common concerns for sober people such as developing sexual goals, boundaries and communicating with partners, identifying triggers, dealing with sexual fantasies involving use and navigating dating and hookups as a sober person. People of all genders, orientations and relationship styles are encouraged to attend.

Group is a six week commitment and costs $35 per session.  For more information or to register, please contact Laura Rademacher, MA, LAMFT at 612.879.0476 or laura@skyhilltherapy.com.

Upcoming Events

SkyHill at MAMFT Conference - Porn Smart Professional

SkyHill therapists, Rick Laska and Laura Rademacher, will be presenting at the 2014 MAMFT Fall Conference.  The content will be based on the original consumer class “Porn Smart” but modified to assist Marriage and Family Therapists explore porn use when it comes into the family and relationship arena.  Good luck to Rick and Laura!  To learn more about this seminar or to register for the conference, go to mamft.net/events-training/fall-conference-2/.

October 2014 Newsletter

January 22, 2015

Written by Rick Laska, MSW, LGSW

Sexual Trauma

Trauma is a collection of symptoms, or responses, to events which are overwhelming to an individual.  The definition seems simple despite trauma being so complex - trauma affects our minds, our bodies, our emotions, and our sex lives.  Even though a person may not experience trauma directly related to their sex life, the symptoms of trauma can interfere with our ability to connect to others during sex.  Reaching the goals you have for your sex life may mean addressing trauma. 

Sexual trauma can be the result of a one-time event or on-going experiences: accidents, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape, or incest.  It may be violent or it may not be.  Regardless of the circumstances, sexual trauma can involve a sense of fear, helplessness, injury or perceived threat of injury.

Sexual trauma can affect our ability to concentrate and remember things.  It can lead to difficulty controlling emotions or difficulty experiencing certain emotions.  Our physical health can be impacted negatively by sexual trauma, interfering with sexual function, arousal, and orgasm.  Sexual trauma can also affect our behaviors, potentially interfering with our ability to connect, communicate, and be intimate with our sexual partners.

Therapy can be very helpful in addressing sexual trauma in your past.  Although it may be difficult, the emotional wounds can begin to heal with a supportive, knowledgeable ear.  SkyHill offers different approaches to addressing sexual trauma including education, talk therapy, mindfulness, relaxation, and EMDR.  If you would like to learn more about therapy to address sexual trauma, contact us at 952-562-7837 to consult with a therapist.

The SkyHill Experience - Jennie Hilleren, MS, LMFT, CST

Owner, supervisor, and Sex and Relationship Therapist - Jennie Hilleren, MA, LMFT, CST wears many hats at SkyHill, proudly.  Hilleren has been a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) since 2007 and a Supervisor of MFTs since 2009.  In addition to these licenses, she is also certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists as a sex therapist (CST).  By the end of 2014, Hilleren will also be an AASECT-certified sex therapy supervisor (CST-S).

“Being a supervisor has been a very important part of doing the work that I do as it encourages me to continue to learn about the work of my field.  I’m able to make informed, evidence-based decisions in my practice.  In addition to pushing myself, I can pass it forward to the next generation of practitioners to ensured the field of sexology maintains rigorous standards so clients experience the best outcomes.” 

Hilleren went into sex therapy in order to change the perceptions in our current culture.  “Sex is a big part of our lives but culture can be filled with shaming, negative messages, leading to such pain and sadness.  SkyHill is going to be a leader in changing that culture - both through healing the wounds people have, and through educating professionals and consumers.”  When Hilleren began her AASECT certification process, there were only 13 practitioners in the State of Minnesota who were AASECT certified.  She is currently working with 7 supervisees to add them to the ranks of helping professionals.

Aside from her work as a supervisor, Jennie specializes in working with sexual dysfunction, nonmonogamy, gender identity, and sexual trauma.  In order to enhance her work with individuals who have experienced sexual trauma, Hilleren is completing certification in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a specific type of trauma therapy.  “It is incredibly difficult for a person who has part of their sexuality robbed from them or if their body has betrayed them.  They can lose a sense of autonomy, feeling as if they don’t own their bodies.  I work to help people who have experienced sexual trauma heal from these atrocities.  They can begin to understand that their sex life isn’t defined by the trauma and free themselves to experience sex more fully.”

To learn more about working with Jennie or any of the staff at SkyHill, call 952-562-7837 or email info@skyhilltherapy.com.

Congratulations Laura Rademacher, MA, LAMFT

SkyHill would like to recognize and congratulate our Director of Education and Sex and Relationship Therapist, Laura Rademacher, for signing a contract with a publisher for her upcoming book on pleasure education.  Laura has been working to incorporate pleasure education into a variety of settings to challenge the shame and fear based sex education in the world.  This book will be a way for Laura’s expertise to reach a much broader audience of consumers, educators, and professionals.  Congratulations, Laura!

Groups and Events

Mindful Sexuality

Sex is an important part of life, but it can be difficult to stay mentally present in sensual moments.  For some people, this can lead to performance anxiety, sexual dysfunction, or sex that isn’t satisfying or intimate.  This 8 week group will help you identify and practice mindfulness techniques to embody your individual and partnered sexual experiences.  You will also explore ways to be sexually mindful and empowered in your daily life!  For more information or to enroll, call Rick at 612-564-9199 or email rick@skyhilltherapy.com.