Conscious Girlfriend Academy
Official Guidelines & Policies

Updated 4/1/21

Conscious Girlfriend Academy (CGA) Overview 

 

1. CGA is a privately-owned membership community and learning environment for self-identified women who have romantic and/or sexual interest in other women. Elsewhere in this document, the word "lesbian" will be used, but only as shorthand to describe any/all women who love women or want to, regardless of label (women who identify as gay, queer, bisexual, pansexual, sexually fluid, etc.).

 

2. CGA members certify that they identify themselves as women and that they are over the age of 21In actuality, most members are over 40, and many are in their 50s, 60s and beyond. But all women who love women or want to, and are over 21, are welcome. 

 

3. CGA is a supportive learning community, not a psychotherapeutic container. Members certify that they understand CGA classes are not psychotherapy, and that if they need psychotherapy, they will seek it elsewhere. Interactions within CGA are subject to different expectations and requirements than interaction within individual or group psychotherapy. For instance, classes and groups are led by faculty members who teach from their own personal experience, as well as from the work of psychologists, relationship researchers, spiritual teachers and other experts. Additionally, there is no barrier to friendship or romantic involvement between CGA faculty, staff, volunteers or members. 

 

4. CGA classes on sexuality are frank and explicit, as well as conscious and compassionate. We offer lesbians high-quality sex education rarely available elsewhere for our community. This information can be life-changing and life-saving! However, it can also be emotionally triggering, especially for our many members who have a history of sexual assault or abuse. Members who choose to attend our sexuality classes acknowledge that their attendance is voluntary and they are encouraged to leave and/or seek professional help if needed. 

 

5. All CGA classes, including those on dating, relationships and sexuality, carry "trigger warnings" because they deal with emotionally sensitive material. While learning the information in our classes can make a huge positive difference in the lives of our members, it is important for members to take care of themselves. Members who choose to attend these classes acknowledge that their attendance is voluntary and they are encouraged to leave or seek professional help if needed.

 

6. CGA is a consensual and empowering environment designed, led and attended by lesbians and other women who love women. CGA exists to empower women to understand and create the romantic and sexual lives we want, as well as to say No and set boundaries when needed. As such, we stand firmly against sexual harassment and abuse, including non-consensual flirting or otherwise romantic or sexualized interaction. We also stand firmly in favor of consensual flirting, romantic or sexual relationships between women involved in CGA at any level, where such relationships are mutually desired and agreed to by both or all parties, including faculty, staff, volunteers and participants.  Members who choose to attend CGA classes, groups and gatherings acknowledge that they may be in the presence of women who are romantically and/or sexually involved with one another. 

 

7. All of us, including CGA faculty, are works in progress! No one in CGA pretends to be perfect or a guru. Yet, we come together to do our best to learn about, practice and uphold the skills of being conscious, compassionate and curious in our relationships, including our romantic relationships, our relationships with ourselves, and our relationships with others in CGA.

 

All CGA participants must agree to the CGA waiver. 

Please click here to read the waiver.  

 

CGA Ethos

 

The four key principles of the CGA ethos are: 

  1. Cultivating a conscious state. This means working to notice your feelings and your thoughts (the story you tell about your feelings), and to acknowledge the inevitable gap between your emotions, your beliefs, and reality. Being conscious also means developing the ability to recognize your own triggers and take care of yourself when they arise, i.e. do whatever is necessary in order for you to regulate your nervous system. Although CGA teaches many tools for this self-regulation, at times professional help is also needed (e.g. from a licensed psychotherapist or M.D.), and members are encouraged to seek such help if needed.  
     
  2. Cultivating a state of compassion for yourself and others. Although many women struggle with self-compassion, neuroplasticity means this is absolutely a learnable skill! It is also a necessary foundation to develop for all other Conscious Girlfriend work. Yes, you can learn to have compassion for yourself, and yes, it will improve all your relationships, including your 24/7 relationship with yourself. Compassion is also a necessary component in all interactions between CG members.
  1. Cultivating curiosity. As Brene Brown says, If you’re not uncomfortable sometimes, you’re probably not learning. Learning, by definition, requires us to extend ourselves beyond our comfort zones. Curiosity is what makes it possible for us to do that. When we can stay or return to a state of curiosity, we can grow and learn.
     
  2. Confidentiality. CGA members, faculty and staff explicitly agree to hold confidential anything which is shared at a CGA event (even at later CGA events or with other CGA members.) This means never sharing the name or identifying details of anyone, in connection with any story they may have shared, except in cases where such speech clearly violates a CGA policy, in which case members are encouraged to tell CGA administration about the incident. Confidentiality also means being judicious about sharing any details anyone shared, regardless of whether you reveal their identity or not. Before sharing someone else’s story, check your intention. Are you sharing to help create more learning and empathy? Or are you sharing to foster gossip? CGA values the former, and asks members to refrain from the latter. Please be aware that despite our commitment to confidentiality, people are human and breaches do happen; therefore, CGA encourages members to consciously calibrate what they choose to share, where, and with whom. Also, please be aware that recorded classes will be viewed by other women who were not present at the original class meeting.

 

The Voluntary Nature of CGA Membership 

 

CGA loves our members! However, our lawyers want us to say this stuff:

 

CGA membership is wholly voluntary and subject to the choice of both the member, and the CGA administration. No one is ever obligated to become, or to remain, a member of CGA, and CGA is not required to accept or continue any person's membership.

 

Women who choose to become and remain members of CGA agree to do their best to honor CGA's operating principles, policies and ethos. CGA reserves the right to refuse membership to any individual, or to revoke the membership of any individual, at its sole discretion. Members agree that if their membership is ended, their only compensation will be the refund of tuition pre-paid past the date of revocation.

If a member finds that her needs are not being met by CGA, she is welcome to offer input and feedback via email to ruth@consciousgirlfriend.com. While CGA administration welcomes hearing about members' feelings and needs, final decisions about all issues and concerns will be made by CGA administration, in concert with legal and mental health professionals.


Recorded and Non-Recorded Classes and Groups

 

As a general rule, all didactic CGA classes are recorded, while Practice and Connection events are not recorded. Faculty always announce that a class is going to be recorded, before starting the recording. Zoom attendees can also check in the upper left hand corner of their screens to see whether a class is being recorded or not.

 

Classes recorded in the Academy are made available to present and future Academy members. Members who do not wish to be seen in the video must turn their cameras off.  Names and profile pictures will not appear in the recording , so if a member's camera is off, nothing about her will show. If a member's camera is on, and her face appears on the screen, it will appear in the recording; however, names that appear onscreen during the live class will not appear in the recording.

 

If a member chooses to speak aloud in a live class, her voice will be included in the recording. Members who do not wish their voices to be included in the recording must use the chat box to communicate, rather than unmuting themselves to speak.

 

CGA members who appear on camera in a recorded CGA class, and who choose to speak aloud in the class, acknowledge that both their speech and image will be viewed later by other Academy members.

 

Members also acknowledge that CGA's parent entity, Conscious Girlfriend, holds additional classes which are not part of the CGA. These recorded classes may be available either free or at a per-class cost to CGA members, but will also be attended by many women who are not CGA members. These classes are also recorded and widely distributed either free or for a tuition payment to lesbians interested in the work of Conscious Girlfriend. CGA members who choose to participate in these recordings do so with full acknowledgement that their image and speech, if present in the class, will be thus distributed. CGA members who do not wish to be part of recordings may either choose to forego attending recorded classes, or may keep their cameras off and participate in the chat only, rather than by unmuting themselves.  

 

CGA also holds many groups which are focused on practicing skills and/or connecting with others in the community. These groups are NOT recorded, and in these groups, members are required to attend with cameras on for the personal interaction component, in order to enhance rapport and establish mutual vulnerability and safety for all participants.

CGA Policy on Non-Discrimination, Hate Speech and Harassment

 

CGA welcomes growth-oriented, self-identified women over 21, including trans women, who love women or want to (e.g. identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, queer, or by some other label or no label) and who are willing to practice the skills around which CGA is centered: being conscious, compassionate and curious, as well as maintaining confidentiality. 

 

CGA does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, body size, gender expression, nationality, health or mental health status, level of physical ability, cisgender vs. transgender status, or according to any other group characteristic, though we do require members to be able to commit to and do their best to uphold our operating principles, and to refrain from hate speech based on any of these characteristics. 

 

CGA is also explicitly supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement, and we are actively anti-racist. 

 

Speech expressing a wish for violent harm to anyone is also prohibited. For instance, a statement like “I wish someone would beat up my ex and leave her disabled” is not acceptable within CGA, though a statement like “I am so angry at my ex that sometimes I have vengeful thoughts” would be appropriate.

 

The CGA environment is one in which joking and flirting are common. However, sexual and emotional harassment are prohibited. CGA members are strongly encouraged to clarify and communicate their boundaries if they are not comfortable with someone’s language or attitude toward them. If a member feels subjected to unwanted sexual or emotional advances, she is encouraged to either 1) Address her concerns directly with the person who is making the advances, if she feels safe enough to do so, and/or 2) Report her concerns to the CGA administration, if she does not feel safe addressing them with the person or people involved.

CGA Policy on Emotional Safety and Triggers

 

CGA recognizes that any and all topics related to lesbian dating, love and sexuality require "trigger warnings."  We live in a homophobic, racist, misogynist, trans-phobic, body-shaming and sexually abusive culture, and many members have suffered trauma in those contexts, as well as the pain of having difficult or even toxic love relationships. Yet, despite acknowledging these trauma histories, the mission of CGA is to continue to teach about dating, love and sexuality!

 

Therefore, rather than trying to create an atmosphere of total safety for all members, which would be impossible, we actively encourage members to learn to recognize when they are triggered, and to be empowered to manage those triggers themselves (or seek peer support and/or professional help, where needed.) CGA teaches an abundance of tools to help members regulate their nervous systems, including the Conscious Girlfriend SCORE process, taking breaks from the classes, leaving a particular class, acknowledging their triggers in the chat, asking for specific kinds of support from other participants, breathing deeply, looking around to remind themselves where they physically are – and by seeking psychotherapy or other professional support outside CGA when necessary. 

CGA Limitations in Scope

 

Although CGA classes cover many psychological topics, CGA is not a not a substitute for psychotherapy or mental health care. CGA Director Ruth Schwartz is certified in Somatica Method Sex & Intimacy Coaching, and has degrees, certificates and extensive training in many healing modalities; however, she is not a licensed psychotherapist and does not provide psychotherapy.

CGA Policies on Intra-Community Romantic and Sexual Relationships and Interactions

 

As a community of consenting adults engaged in a shared context of learning and empowerment, CGA members make their own decisions about their personal relationships. CGA stands against sexual harassment or abuse of power, and in favor of romantic and sexual freedom between consenting adults. Given that CGA is a voluntary membership community of consenting adults, there are no rules against consensual romantic or sexual relationships between participants at any level of CGA, including faculty, staff, administration, volunteers and/or members of CGA. 

 

CGA explicitly supports members to reach out and share contact information, build friendships and share emotional support, and to develop romantic relationships where there is mutual consent. Members are also encouraged to consciously work with their triggers, set boundaries, and take responsibility for their choices and feelings.  

 

For instance, we ask that prior to engaging in a romantic relationship with someone in the CGA community, members consider whether and how they will feel able to participate in CGA if their relationship ends. We also recommend that you agree between yourselves whether and to what extent you will share relationship details with other members, and then either honor those agreements, or renegotiate them.

Member Input and Concerns

 

CGA cares about the feelings and needs of CGA members. For that reason, members are always welcome and encouraged to email CGA Director Ruth Schwartz (ruth@consciousgirlfriend.com) with comments, suggestions, ideas, proposals and feedback.

 

Policy on Self-Promotion through CGA Channels 

 

Many CGA members are talented coaches, therapists, healers, teachers, workshop leaders, community builders, and providers of other services. CGA supports members informing other members of the services they offer, while also requiring members to avoid any behavior that might feel like pitching, marketing, selling or advertising to other members. 

 

Therefore, active CGA members may post their non-CGA-related offerings in the chat during CG events, and/or on the CGA Facebook group, ONCE per offering (one time in the chat, one time on FB) as long as the parameters are clearly stated. For instance, please indicate 1) That this is a private, non-CGA offering, 2) Who else will be invited or in attendance, 3) The cost or requested donation, if applicable. Example: "I'm offering a coaching group through my own business, [insert business name]. This is not a CGA event, and X other people will also be present [e.g. people of all genders and orientations, women of all sexual orientations, LGBTQ women only, etc.]  The requested donation will be X. [Or, the event will be free but it is a promotion for a paid offering.] Please message me for more information."

 

If the event in question is free and standalone, rather than a promo event, and is primarily or exclusively open to CGA members, the above limits do not apply. 

 

Active CGA members may also email Ruth@Consciousgirlfriend.com to request inclusion for their offerings on the CGA website Community page . These requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis; posting is not guaranteed. Factors to be considered will include the length of time the member has been involved with CGA, how active the member has been, who the offering is for, and how relevant the offering is to CGA's overall mission. 

 

As CGA grows, these policies are subject to change. 

Refund Policy

 

CGA members are encouraged to pay CGA tuition on a monthly basis until they have determined that CGA is a good fit for them, at which time they can shift to the yearly pre-pay option as a way to save money, if they wish. There will be no refunds for yearly pre-paid membership or monthly memberships if a member does not attend, or chooses to stop attending groups and classes. In the event that CGA revokes someone's membership, she will receive a refund for the month in which the revocation occurs, and for any months she may have pre-paid. 

 

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