Every Wednesday The CSPH highlights a Sexuality Professional you should keep your eye on. Their backgrounds are very diverse in order to bring attention to the wide variety of amazing people working in the field. This week we bring you Michele Sugg!
1. What do you do in the field of sexuality?
I am an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, in private practice. Am also honored to be the President of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT.) Am also a Sex Therapy Advisor for The Alexander Foundation for Women’s Health.
2. Where are you based out of?
3. What is your focus? What do you do?
I primarily see couples, individuals and other relationship constellations. Issues can be around desire, arousal, orgasm, or re-working a relationship to better suit the needs of those involved. I dislike the term “dysfunction so have avoided using it here! If people are unhappy with their sex lives, love lives, sense of sexual self, I work with them towards greater comfort, clarity and satisfaction.
4. What are your particular goals and passions in the field?
I enjoy working outside of the box. Once I am less busy I would love to contribute more to the burgeoning field dedicated to the writing, research and knowledge about non-monogamy, particularly polyamory. I am passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. If you make a positive difference in just one persons life, the ripple effect is tremendous.
5. Why did you choose to work in this field?
I have always been comfortable speaking about sex. Having matured quite young, and looking older, was the one in middle and high school who bought condoms for friends. I’ve been a proponent of pleasure. There is so much that continues to interest me in the field of sexology. It is the intersection of biology, psychology, spirituality, and sociology… and so much more. As a clinical social worker, I’ve been steeped in the bio-psychosocial approach, which is a beautiful method to address sexuality.
6. Where did you go for school/training?
I got my undergraduate degree at Florida State University in Social Work (BSW,) then attended training at the Masters and Johnson Institute (1981,) then went to Boston University for my Master’s degree in Social Work, (MSW.) Working at a community mental health center in Florida, and then in Connecticut at the Yale Psychiatric Institute was excellent training. I was lucky enough to meet and work with Frank Caparulo, who nurtured my interest in sex therapy (he was trained by the Sarrel’s at Yale,) and then become clinical director of his Center for Sexual Health. He took me to my first AASECT meeting in 1987 in NYC!
7. Do you have any literature out (websites, articles)?
I am a full time clinician, not a writer. But who knows what the future will bring? My website is www.MicheleSugg.com
8. What would you recommend to future professionals attempting to get into the field?
I would suggest they attend as many AASECT sponsored conferences and trainings as possible, and to approach their heroes and speak with them! We all started somewhere- make sure you connect with the people in the field with whom you have high regard. Most professionals love mentoring or helping out others, or at least pointing them in some helpful directions. I just met Jocelyn Elders- what a career highlight! She is one of my heros.
9. What is the most challenging aspect for you working in this career?
Keeping my eye on my goals, and inuring myself to criticism. Having a thick skin is a good thing in this field. There can be plenty of people who may not understand what I do, or what I’m about. Even in my own field! I have been surprised at the competitive and mean-spirited natures of some in our field. We are way too small a group to have the infighting that we do. We are well served to find our common ground and work from there. We would accomplish so much more! That is why I have been getting out to as many other sexology organizations as possible, to join with them in our common missions.
10. One must read-what would you recommend? Why?
Honestly, there are just too many! It depends on your interests and work. How about anything from Kate Bornstein, Wendy-O Matik, Peggy Kleinplatz, Charles Moser, Gina Ogden, Patti Britton, Sallie Foley, Paul Joannides, Bill Taverner, Dossie Easton, Peggy Brick, Logan Levkoff, Joe Kort, Ian Kerner, Virginia Sadock, Kathleen Dolan, Leonore Tiefer, Karen Hicks, Barnaby Barrett, Michael Foucault, Betty Dodson, Susan Kellogg-Spadt, Ralph and Barbara Alterowitz, Michael Metz, Barry McCathy, Michael Perelman, Joy Davidson, Tristan Taormino, Esther Perel…just to name a “tip of the iceberg” few!