Sexual Fantasies: Understanding Their Meaning in Psychotherapy

This is an on-demand webinar. The presentation was broadcast live on Wednesday, November 10, 2021
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Sexual fantasies can provide clinicians with a window into the workings of the mind. In this webinar, we’ll use a psychoanalytical theoretical model developed by Joseph Weiss, M.D. and the San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group. We’ll use this model to explore various ways sexual fantasies are constructed by minds that are singularly committed to safety.

Sexual excitement is inhibited by certain pathogenic beliefs connected to feelings of guilt, shame, and helplessness. Sexual fantasies enable us to disconfirm these beliefs and, as a result, safely allow sexual arousal to emerge.

Therapists can use the details of a patient’s sexual fantasies to infer a great deal about their core pathogenic beliefs. Together, we will delve into and analyze a range of sexual fantasies from ordinary to bizarre. These include sadomasochistic scenarios, exhibitionistic fantasies, and group sex fantasies.

At the end of this workshop, attendees will be able to—

  • Describe the central role of pathogenic beliefs and psychological safety in human psychology and, in particular, in the formation of sexual fantasies.
  • Discuss examples of how particular sexual fantasies and preferences function to disconfirm feelings of guilt and how others function to undo or transcend feelings of shame, rejection, and helplessness.
  • Analyze and interpret the meaning of advertising images in terms of their ability to elicit sexual interest.
  • Explain how the “normal” development of masculinity and femininity in our culture predispose each gender to particular pathogenic beliefs and sexual fantasies

Michael Bader, DMH is a psychologist and psychoanalyst with over 40 years of clinical experience in the San Francisco Bay area. He has written extensively about the interaction of psychology, culture, and politics. He has also produced a podcast called Mysteries of the Mind about these issues.

Michael is the author of Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies and Male Sexuality: Why Women Don’t Understand It, and Men Don’t Either. More information can be found on his website at

Suzanne Iasenza, PhD, is an active faculty member at several distinguished schools with programs in sex therapy and psychotherapy. She holds positions at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy (ICP) in New York and the Ackerman Institute for the Family. Suzanne is also on the faculty roster at Adelphi University Derner Institute’s Postgraduate Program for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. In addition, she teaches at the Westchester Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy and the Family Institute of Westchester.

Suzanne maintains a private practice in psychotherapy and sex therapy in New York. Her latest book Transforming Sexual Narratives: A Relational Approach to Sex Therapy was published by Routledge.

Time Topic Covered
First 90 minutes
  • Intro to Weiss’s Psa theory and how it’s applied to sexuality
  • Discuss role of pathogenic beliefs, guilt, worry, inferiority and shame and how sexual fantasies help disconfirm these affects and beliefs.
  • Clinical examples and how to use these concepts in therapy
15 minutes
  • Break
Last 90 Minutes
  • Discussion of gender differences in sexual fantasies
  • Discussion of sexual “chemistry” and sexual boredom
  • Show how advertising and images in mass culture and pornography “work” to create arousal

This training offers 3 hours of direct contact (not counting breaks or lunch). It is the participant’s responsibility to check with their individual state boards/regulatory body to verify CE requirements for their license to practice.

For Live Broadcast Attendees

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For Attendees of On Demand/Recorded Version

If you cannot verify 100% attendance of the Live Broadcast or if you are watching the On Demand/recorded version of this webinar, you will need to complete a Post-Webinar Quiz with a pass of at least 80% in order to verify your attendance.

For US Participants

  • Instructions on how obtaining your Certificate of Attendance will be distributed either upon completion of the Live Broadcast or after participants pass the Post-Webinar Quiz following the On Demand recorded version of the webinar.

For more general info about CEs for US Participants, please click here.  

For Canadian and International participants

Upon fulfillment of the above requirements, Canadian and international participants will be issued a Certificate of Participation which features:

  • Name of Participant
  • Title of Training
  • Name of Presenter plus their credentials
  • Number of hours of training
  • Date of training
  • Confirmation that you have passed a quiz with at least 80% grade to verify your attendance

Please check carefully with your regulating body/organization that this certificate is sufficient proof for you to claim CEUs.

For general information about Continuing Education for Canadians and International participants, please click here.  

This training is aimed at all mental health professionals including:

  • social workers
  • counsellors
  • psychologists
  • psychiatrists
  • medical professionals supporting mental health patients
  • psychotherapists
  • mental health counsellors
  • marriage and family therapists and counsellors
  • occupational therapists
  • vocational rehabilitation therapists
  • addiction counsellors
  • religious counsellors
  • therapists
  • case managers
  • art therapists
  • licensed professional counsellors
  • all other professionals who would like to develop, update or expand their skills and knowledge in mental health practices
Webinar Rate CAD$139 / USD$110
Speaking of Sex 4-Part Series (4 for the price of 3) CAD$417

All pricing is in CAD$. The USD$ equivalent is about 30% less than CAD$, click here to estimate webinar rate before taxes in your local currency.