Finding Freedom logo 2019

January 24-26, 2019

Riviera Resort in Palm Springs, CA

2019 Theme: Gender, Sexuality, and Relational Intimacy

18 CE’s



Early Bird (Ends 12/1/18): $199 Regular Pricing (After 12/1/18): $249 Register Now

About the Conference

The Finding Freedom Symposium is about bringing forward relevant information for best practices in supporting the LGBTQ community with co-occurring disorders. Our intention is to offer a container for discovery and focused discussion to find effective solutions for professionals and their LGBTQ patients. Our goal is to cultivate a conversation that will lead to clinical, research-based information.The conference is open to the community, treatment professionals, doctors, therapists and anyone who is interested in the unique issues facing sexual identity and co-occurring disorders treatment. We invite you to join for education, conversation and connection.


Dr. Paula Stone Williams

Rev. Dr. Paula Stone Williams I’ve Lived as a Man and a Woman: Here is What I’ve Learned

Rev. Dr. Paula Williams is a nationally known speaker on gender equity and transgender advocacy. She is also the Pastor of Preaching and Worship at Left Hand Church in Longmont, Colorado, and the president of RLT Pathways, Inc., a non-profit providing counseling and coaching services. Paula serves on the board of the Q Christian Fellowship, the Union of Affirming Christians, and the WITH Network of progressive churches. As a transgender pastor, Paula has been featured in the New York Times, the Denver Post, NPR’s Radiolab, New Scientist, Radio New Zealand, Colorado Public Radio and The Huffington Post. Paula’s TEDxMileHigh talk on gender equality has had over 650,000 views on YouTube. For more information visit
Joe Kort

Joe Kort, PhD, LMSW Cracking the Erotic Code

Dr. Kort’s practice is mixed with straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals and couples. Dr. Kort graduated from Michigan State University with dual majors in Psychology and Social Work. At Wayne State University, he earned his Master’s in Social Work (MSW), then a Master’s (MA) in Psychology, and has received his Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Clinical Sexology from the American Academy of Clinical Sexologists (AACS). He is in the process of becoming a certified transgender therapist through the World Professional Association for Transgender Health ( WPATH is the standard of care for transgender medical and mental healthcare.
Elisabeth Sheff

Elisabeth Sheff, PhD, CSE Distinguishing Between Sexual Addiction and Consensual NonMonogamies

Dr. Elisabeth “Eli” Sheff is the foremost academic expert on polyamorous families with children. With a PhD in Sociology, Dr. Sheff specializes in gender and sexual minority families, consensual non-monogamy, and kink/BDSM. Sheff’s first book, The Polyamorists Next Door (2014 hardback and ebook, 2015 paperback and audiobook), details the findings of the first 15 years of her research on polyamorous families with children. Her second book, Stories from the Polycule (2015), is an edited anthology of writings by polyamorous folks. When Someone You Love is Polyamorous (2016) is Sheff’s shortest book that guides family members and significant others who are trying to understand a polyamorous loved one. Dr. Sheff is currently in her fourth wave of data collection for her 20+ year study of polyamorous families with children.
Christopher Doggett

Christopher Doggett, PhD Performance and Dialogue From Shame to Shamaness — It’s Not Just Dressing Up

Watch Christopher’s onstage transformation from gay male into Eartha Madre. Christopher will be opening this year’s Finding Freedom LGBTQ Symposium in a rare activist performance piece. With the help of PS Lola, he will transform from California Institute of Integral Studies psychologist to a Shamanic Mystic Earth Mother, right before your eyes!

While the field of gay mysticism is relatively new, there are many examples from around the world that include the indigenous people of the Dagara in Africa, native North and South Americans, historical and mythical gay mystics, and post-Jungian gay archetypal theory. Christopher is most directly focused on his autobiographical journey and those sources that speak to the dance of his 60 plus years of life, as both a gay male and a spiritual seeker, the struggle to integrate the two, and compares his journey with how other gay men have done the same.

Rob Weiss

Robert Weiss PhD, CSAT Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency

Prodependence is a new psychological term created by Robert Weiss to describe healthy interdependence in the modern world. Rather than preaching detachment and distance over continued bonding and assistance, as so many therapists, self-help books, and 12-Step groups currently do, prodependence celebrates the human need for and pursuit of intimate connection, viewing this as a positive force for change. Simply stated, prodependence occurs when attachment relationships are mutually beneficial ― with one person’s strengths filling in the weak points of the other, and vice versa. And this can occur even when an addiction is present.

Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S is a digital-age intimacy and relationships expert specializing in infidelity and addictions — most notably sex, porn and love addiction. An internationally acknowledged clinician, he frequently serves as a subject expert on human sexuality for multiple media outlets including CNN, HLN, MSNBC, The Oprah Winfrey Network, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and NPR, among others. He is the author of several highly regarded books, including Out of the Doghouse: A Step-by-Step Relationship-Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating, Sex Addiction 101: A Basic Guide to Healing from Sex, Pornand Love Addiction, Sex Addiction 101: The Workbook and Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men.

Dr Rick Isenberg

Rick Isenberg M.D., CSAT and Marcus R. Earle, PhD, LMFT, CSAT, S-PSB Experiences In the Development of Self-Concept and Relationship Satisfaction

This presentation will examine the impact of childhood experiences on the development of personality, self-worth, and attachment style in the LGBTQ community. We will look at childhood adversity and connect the dots between the hardships that LGBTQ Marcus Earleyouth face in our society (bullying, bashing, rejection, physical/sexual abuse) and the low self-esteem and sense of unworthiness that all-too-often lead to addiction, compulsivity, homelessness, depression, domestic violence, and suicide. We will also look at childhood experiences that promote resilience, bonding, self-acceptance, and good mental health. The importance of community and the role of social media and peer support will be examined as we discus the critical factors for self-actualization and success in relationship.

Course Description

The symposium is designed for clinicians, treatment professionals, therapists, and EAP providers. The goals of this symposium include educating treatment professionals about evidence based practices and LGBTQI specific issues in mental health and addiction treatment (co-occurring disorders). Presenters will address numerous topics including cultural competency, gender diversity, trauma informed care, suicide prevention and assessment, workplace issues, employee assistance best practices and organizational adaptation to change.

Contact Info

Renee Baribeau Michael’s House Community Outreach and Marketing Coordinator [email protected] 760-464-2138 Get LGBTQ Symposium and Michael’s House updates:

Sponsorship and Promotional Opportunities

We have several sponsorship packages and promotional opportunities for the LGBTQ Symposium. For more information on pricing and offerings, contact Jacy Bruck at [email protected] Sponsorship Levels
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Thursday, January 24th, 2019 (Click for details)
1:00 pm – 4:30 pm – Pre-Conference Workshop: Desert Aids Project: The ABCs of Working With LGBTQ InclusionJames Barry, PsyD, LAADC
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm – Vendor Setup
4:30 pm – 5:45 pm – Registration Open – Vendor Registration
5:45 pm – Welcome Message from Conference Organizer
6:00 – 6:45 pm – Opening Performance and Dialogue: From Shame to Shamaness – It’s Not Just Dressing Up Christopher Doggett, PhD
7:00 – 8:00 pm – OPENING KEYNOTE: I’ve Lived as a Man and a Woman – Here’s What I Learned Rev. Dr. Paula Stone Williams
Friday, January 25th, 2019 (Click for details)
7:00 am – 7:45 am – Mindfulness Meditation – OA Meeting
7:45 am – 8:30 am – Breakfast and Registration
8:30 am – 8:45 am – Welcome
8:45 am – 9:45 am – KEYNOTE: Cracking the Erotic CodeJoe Kort, PhD, LMSW
9:45 am – 10:45 am – KEYNOTE: Distinguishing Between Sexual Addiction and Consensual Nonmonogamies Elisabeth Sheff, PhD, CSE
10:45 am – 11:00 am – Break and Visit Exhibits
11:00 am – 12:00 pm – Gender Spectrum Panel: What if I Change My Mind? Facilitator: Renee Seivert, RN, MFT
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm – Lunch on Own, Visit Exhibits
1:30 pm – 3:00 pm – Breakout sessions
A-1: LGBTQ History: A Path Toward Positive Identity Development
Robert Ischinger, MA, LMFT
A-2: Hyper Vigilance and LGBTQ Identity DevelopmentJohn Sovec, MA, LMFT
A-3: Words Matter: The Intersection of Substance Abuse, Gender, Sexuality and MicroaggressionsMark McMillan, LMSW, CAADC
A-4: Hide and Seek: Sex Addiction and How It Prevents IntimacySteven R. Kelly, MA, MDiv, LPC, CSAT

3:00 pm – 3:15 pm – Break and Visit Exhibits
3:15 pm – 4:45 pm – Breakout sessions

A-5: Better Lesbian Sex and Intimacy! How Changing your Communication Style Can Improve Everything – Dr. Lauren Costine & Linda Santiman, MA, LMFT
A-6: Exploring Sexuality and Gender Identity as Aspects of Spirituality Through Psychodrama – Paul Lesnik, LCSW, TEP
A-7: Cancelled
Saturday, January 26th, 2019 (Click for details)
7:00 am – 8:00 am – 12-Step Meeting
8:00 am – 8:45 am Continental Breakfast
8:45 am – 9:30 am – Morning Welcome & Keynote Research Panel with Siobhan Morse
9:30 am – 10:30 am What Is Wrong With Me? – The Role of Childhood Experiences In the Development of Self-Concept and Relationship SatisfactionRick Isenberg M.D., CSAT and Marcus R. Earle, PhD, LMFT, CSAT, S-PSB
10:15 am – 10:30 am – Break and Visit Exhibits
10:30 am – 12:00 pm – Breakout sessions

A-8: Exploring the Shadow Within the LGBTQ Community: Assisting Your Clients in Moving From Unconscious to Conscious RecoveryRev. TJ Woodward
A-9: Understanding Gender, Sexual Orientation and Spirituality in the Family SystemDr. Michael F. Hinkley, PhD, LMSW, LADC, STL
A-10: The Psychological Cost of Not Coming Out to Your Kids: How Hiding Contributes to Addictive and Dysfunctional BehaviorDavina Kotulski, PhD
A-11: The importance of Processing Internalized Homophobia With Our PatientsCandice Czubernat, LMHC, MFTi

12:00 pm – 1:15 pm – Lunch Barbecue on Patio, Visit Exhibits and Book Signing
1:15 pm – 2:30 pm – Breakout sessions

A-12: Chasing Intensity: Stimulants, Sex and the Search for Intimate Connection in the LGBTQ Community – David Fawcett, PhD
A-13: A Healing Community Approach Promotes Better Care for Our LGBTQIA+ CommunityAlicja Majer, MSW, BSW, CRRA
A-14: Escaping Eating Disorders and Body Dysmorphia in the LGBTQ CommunityKelly Lewallen, LMFT
A-15: The Root Cause of All Addictions and Core GLTBQ Relationship ProblemsJason Wittman, MPS, LAADC, CATC-IV

2:30 pm – 2:45 pm – Break and Visit Exhibits
2:45 pm – 3:45 pm – Breakout sessions

A-16: S/M, Kink, LeatherSex: Pathological or Healthy Sex Paradigms? It Depends. – Terry Gatewood, LCSW, CSAT, SEP
A-17: Pansexuality and the Cultural Invalidation of Nonbinary Sexual Identity -Ashley Rollerson, LMFT
A-18: Will I See You There? Substance Use, Body Image and the Use of Community Spaces Among LGBT+ Folks – Emily O’Rourke-Mills, LMFT and Audriannah Levine-Ward, PsyD

4:00 pm – 5:15 pm – KEYNOTE: Prodependence: Moving Beyond CodependencyRobert Weiss PhD, CSAT
5:15 pm – Evaluations and Sign Out

Speak with an Admissions Coordinator 760-548-4032