Conference Explores Positive Approaches to Sexuality and Sexual Health

June 02, 2009 - News Release

The Guelph Sexuality Conference, Canada's largest and longest-running sexual health forum, will accentuate the positive this year rather than dwell on all the things that can go wrong with sex and relationships.

"Our theme this year is positive approaches to sexuality and sexual health because we’re trying to shift the conversation away from the traditional focus of sexual health education on the risks and dangers associated with sexuality," said Robin Milhausen, a professor and sexuality researcher in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition.

“Even though as an educator or a therapist, you have to deal with the negative issues, you can approach them in positive ways.”

The 31st annual conference takes place June 15 to 17 at the University of Guelph. The event brings together hundreds of educators, nurses, physicians, therapists, social workers, clergy, students and other health professionals from across North America.

Milhausen said this year’s program features more than 75 presenters and 40 concurrent sessions – the most ever offered at the conference. Highlights include three plenary speakers:

• Rafael Mazin, Pan-American Health Organization, “Promoting Sexual Health Through STI-HIV Prevention in Latin American and Caribbean Countries.” Mazin will discuss the successes and challenges of HIV prevention using a comprehensive approach grounded in promoting sexual health, overall wellness and improved quality of life.

• Cory Silverberg, founding member of Come As You Are, an education-based sex store in Toronto, “Sex Tech: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Technology.” He will provide an introduction to the world of human-computer sexual interactions and an overview of the latest interactive technologies that promise to enhance intimacy. While media headlines obsess over fears about the “dark side” of the Internet, Silverberg focuses on how rapidly changing technology offers a unique opportunity to explore the limits and meanings of sex.

• Peggy Kleinplatz, University of Ottawa, “Beyond ‘Positive’ and ‘Healthy’: Optimal Sexuality.” The closing plenary explores the transformative power of optimal sexuality, particularly in marginalized groups. Kleinplatz, known for her work critical of sex therapy that she feels focuses too often on performance, emphasizes relationships and the importance of being present, authenticity, intense emotional connection, sexual and erotic intimacy, communication and transcendence. She will discuss the implications for educators and sexual health professionals of aspiring toward optimal sexuality.

Milhausen said the conference continues to expand and break new ground thanks to the University’s commitment to innovative, forward-thinking programs.

“It’s really been embraced by the community,” she said. “The goal of this year’s program is to encourage participants to explore new perspectives and to learn about different approaches to sexual education or practices of sexuality. There is something for everybody at this conference.”

The conference, which will take place in the Thornbrough Building and the University Centre, is open only to registrants and the media. Media passes may be arranged in advance, and a media registration table will be set up during the event. Leading up to the conference, an intensive sex therapy training program is being offered June 8 to12, and there is a day of pre-conference workshops on June 15. For more information, or to register online, go to

Prof. Robin Milhausen
Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition
591-824-4120, Ext. 54397,

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, Ext. 53338,, or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982,

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1