I really appreciate when I have the good fortune to stumble on a professional opportunity that blows my expectations out of the water. I tend to have high expectations, a trait that has had led to inevitable disappointments in life. I think that over the years, I have learned to curb a bit of that an approach things from a perspective that I’d like to think is more Zen-like.
Last week, I had the privilege of participating as a member of the World Congress for Sexual Health in Glasgow, Scotland, where I gave a poster session of my case study research that examined resiliency factors for transsexual Mexican women. What made this conference different, and what surprised me, was how invested all of the people were in this shared area of specialization that is gender and sexuality. While many of us were experts in our various areas of sexuality in healthcare, social service, counseling, etc., the entire conference felt so participatory. It seemed to be a place that people were attending for the genuine desire to have knowledge we could all take back and apply in our clinical and/or research settings, not just a stop we made to add a line to our CVs.
I realize that what made the difference for me as a professional was, in addition to being in this really cool international scene, I’ve specialized for several years in an area in which I’ve yearned to meet other people who were doing innovative research and practice along with me. I have really sought, without knowing that I was seeking, a place for collective knowledge where we could talk broadly about the issues in which we share specialization. I guess I’m wondering how this works for other counseling professionals who specialize not just in gender and sexuality, but in any area. Do you attend conferences that feed your specialization in addition to more general counseling conferences? If so, what’s different for you in these different conference experiences?
Stacee Reicherzer is a counselor, a faculty member at Walden University, and a private consultant with special interests that include: transgender issues in counseling, lateral (within-group) marginalization, and sexual abuse survival.