Copyright Armando Kiyama, 2014
Copyright David Owen Young, 2014
With so many "helping professionals" out there, how are we to know who's best to turn to? Below are some of the most common questions Antoinette Izzo, CEO of Warrior Intimacy Institute, receives about who she is and what she does.
"You're a sexologist? That's the same thing as a sex therapist, right?"
No, I am not a sex therapist or a medical doctor. Sexologists engage in the scientific study of sexuality, particularly concerning what people do sexually and how they feel about what they do. Sexologists are aware of the broad spectrum of human sexual behavior and maintain broad perspectives in addressing topics of sexuality (i.e. biological, psychological, sociological, anthropological, and historical). In other words, sexologists are trained to be holistic subject matter experts on topics of sexuality. While most therapists may be highly skilled at working with clients around psychological issues, and most doctors may be highly skilled at working with biological issues, most licensed professionals in the “helping professions” receive very little training in the area of human sexuality. Therefore, complementary relationships between sexologists and other professionals can lead to the most rewarding outcomes for sexual health and wellness.
"So what kind of sexologist are you?"
I am a board-certified sexologist specializing in personal growth and development, and an expert in human behavior—particularly involving sexuality and culture, and language and communication—primarily focused on military personnel, sexworkers, nontraditional relationship dynamics (e.g., polyamory, BDSM), and foundations of intimacy.
I am proud to be an open and honest spokesperson for the “taboo” topics that are all-too-often avoided or overlooked in public discourse. My focus is on having and facilitating candid conversations about sensitive topics in order to help people create mindful and fulfilling relationships.
Given my educational trajectory (see below), I focus largely on the ways society and culture affect our lived experiences. Although I see the value of biomedicine in many aspects of acute health, my deeper understanding of social and cultural relationships, not just "problems" with the individual body, fuel my passion for holistic and multidisciplinary approaches to addressing sexuality and intimacy concerns.
"Have you always done this?"
No. Sadly, there are no jobs for sexologists or interpersonal relationship experts in the Marine Corps. I have spent over 18 years (6 Active Duty, 12 Reserves) in the Intelligence field, and I also worked as a G.I.S. analyst for a city municipality for 7.5 years while attending night school to finish my first graduate degree.
"What did you study in school?"
My regionally-accredited education includes a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Anthropology, a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Human Behavior, and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in English; I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. My formal, state-accredited education includes a Doctorate of Human Sexuality (D.H.S.). I am also board-certified as a Master Practitioner and Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and Master Practition and trainer of Hypnotherapy. I hold certificates in Sex Education, Clinical Sexology, Sexological Instructor/Advisor of AIDS/STI Prevention, and Erotology. I am also a certified Level 1 facilitator of Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills (PAIRS) workshops (www.pairs.org).
"That's a lot of brainy stuff. How did you end up where you're at now?"
I am an Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veteran with a service-connected disability, and my personal experiences with PTSD, mild TBI, Military Sexual Trauma, and the "just take another pill" medical system fueled both my academic and professional pursuits around the topics of sexuality, intimacy, and wellness.
In 2011, I created my first and only clinical practice (Sense Appeal, LLC) to provide wellness resources, training, education, and consultations to individuals, couples, multi-partnered relationships, and small groups. In 2012, after a rude awakening while trying to get care at the V.A. for my own sexual concerns, I became truly aware of the deficit in the treatment and rehabilitation of sexuality and intimacy concerns for America's disabled veterans. Resources exist to treat most physical and mental wounds, but sexuality and intimacy concerns were the "elephant in the bedroom"--the taboo topic that consistently gets left out of integrative treatment for most wounded warriors.