Our mission is education and frontline, culturally-knowledgeable, expert mental health, relationship, and substance abuse therapies for vulnerable and stigmatized populations.
We Affirm Healthy Sexuality
Sex-positive therapists embrace the idea that consensual sexual activities are fundamentally healthy and pleasurable. While emphasizing personal responsibility between consenting adults, risk-awareness and risk-mitigation practices, and respect for individual limits and preferences, sex-positive therapists may support clients to explore their sexuality, experiment sexually and discover what works for them. Sex-positivity allows for and, in fact, celebrates sexual diversity, differing desires and relationships structures, different gender identities and expressions, and individual choices based on consent between or among partners.
At Emerge™, we work with people who identify as or are exploring lesbian, gay, bisexual, polysexual, pansexual, queer, and related orientations. We also work with those who identify as heterosexual. We work with people who are intersex, transgender, or otherwise gender non-conforming. We also work with people who are most comfortable with asexuality or who have chosen to put sex on the shelf for the moment. We are kink knowledgeable and kink friendly. We embrace a broad diversity of relationship expressions, including polyamory, non-monogamy, and monogamy. Our attitude is one of acceptance, embracing, and valuing of consensual human longings, desires and sexual behavior, rather than to categorize these things as pathologies. We recognize that by including and integrating all parts of ourselves, we can live more individually fulfilling and socially productive lives.
A word about trauma: It is our assessment that trauma can come from a belief that there is something wrong with what we desire in sex or intimacy, as well as from abusive or non-consensual experiences. We believe that both of these types of trauma deserve understanding, validation and healing.
We work with many people who wonder if they are ill because their desires, longings or behaviors are perceived to be outside the “norm.” Our basic attitude is that it is up to each person to determine what is right for them and where are their limits. Knowing that for some, there can also be severe trauma history in the background, we take these situations seriously and offer support to seek safety first, and then examine and explore all facets. Our moral ground is based on informed consent, and our ethical standard about sexual actions and relationship structures is based not on what some normative “orthodoxy” declares, but on whether any of these reasonably cause permanent and irreparable harm to others.
Our Ethical Philosophy
Chad Tynan and Luke Adams embrace a standard of professional ethics in therapy that goes above and beyond the requirements of the American Association of MFTs and the California Association of MFTs. Luke Adams has worked since the 1970s in progressive movements for social change, and in the movement for the liberation of those considered by the dominant culture to be “heretics” about sex and gender. Chad Tynan was actively involved in building LGBTQ organizations at UCLA and in reaching out with networks around polyamory and kink in San Francisco. During their ongoing work, both men have continued to engage with mainstream scientific and epidemiological specialists. When they came to the calling of the study of the mind, and of efforts at healing and wholeness, they both saw the value of adopting pro-liberation therapeutic ethics as part of their work. Those ethics come with the following set of twelve basic principles as assumptions from which to work.
- Oppression sickness is a social disease and a spiritual malady. It directly correlates with increased individual illness in mind and body.
- A fully integrated analysis is necessary to understand oppression. One “-ism” isn’t more important than another “-ism.” They all play on each other.
- The processes and personas of the inner life (“intrapsychic”) and those of the experiences and exchanges between different people (“intersubjective”) depend upon each other—they are interdependent.
- Personal and social identities are interdependent.
- Personal and environmental identities are interdependent.
- Our perceptions and our reality are contingent, so distress and disease must be understood and treated within that systemic and holistic context.
- The therapeutic relationship strives to be egalitarian, even though the consultant and the client bring different expertise to the table.
- The protective container that separates private or group counseling from social education does not render social education non-therapeutic.
- The professional relationship of the consultant and the client must stay discretely distinct from their outside lives so that both may engage in their work in a safe container for healing.
- The perspectives of the marginalized, of the traumatized, and of the survivors of oppression or abuse demand to be highly valued.
- Appeasement of oppressive systems and actors directly exacerbates negative health outcomes in individuals.
- The personal is political.