Dr. Ava Cadell is presenting NeuroLoveology. Check out Ava's bio here. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change? I believe I'm a catalyst for change by empowering people to overcome sexual guilt and shame by teaching them how to love themselves and accept their own sexuality, through my private practice, global seminars, books, instructional videos, media and my online university. I dedicate my life to helping people make love and intimacy a priority in their lives. I'm also mentoring students to become Love Coaches and Sexologists by sharing my vast knowledge, successes and failures so they too can become catalysts for change. Who or what was a catalyst for you? My catalyst was adversity as I was born in Hungary during the Russian revolution, smuggled to Austria where I was left in an orphanage run by strict nuns. Their abuse and negative programming about sex left me feeling worthless. They told me that if I ever kissed a boy that a baby would pop out of my mouth, they taught me to feel ashamed my body and that sex was dirty, evil and a mortal sin. Consequently, I grew up a very confused teenager and with no parental guidance I was easily conned and taken advantage of, especially by men. After many abusive relationships, I was determined to make it my mission to find out as much as I could about love, relationships and sex so that I could find a healthy loving relationship. I have been with my husband for over 20 years now and consider that to be one of my best qualifications and a catalyst for what I do. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now? The biggest concerns of sexuality right now includes sexual abuse of children, rape and violence towards women, forced prostitution and sexual abuse in the Catholic church. Challenges remain for getting people to be open and honest with their sexual truths and teaching healthy sexuality with respect to end sexual violence. I still think so much of the conversation is treated like something that should be shame-based, whispered, or not discussed at all. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year? One of the most positive changes in the world of sexuality is the shift that is happening in regards to rights for our friends and family in the LGBT community. It's a long way from ideal, but it used to be that if you were a straight ally to the gay community, especially for men, you were accused of being secretly gay. That no longer seems to be the case. Another positive change is that teachers are being issued with new guidelines to encourage them to teach sex education rather than just biology and abstinence. An important milestone for the FDA is the approval of the emergency contraceptive Plan B One-Step for use without a prescription or age restrictions, effectively ending more than a decade of legal and regulatory wrangling over the controversial morning-after pill. But perhaps the most valuable breakthrough is that scientists have cured a Mississippi baby born with HIV. Consequently, new findings could be especially critical for AIDS-plagued African countries where infected pregnant women pass the virus to their babies. Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, NeuroLoveology, to CatalystCon West? There have been huge advances in the studies of Neuroscience, which have given us an even greater understanding of the complicated ways in which the brain receives, accepts and transmits themillions of stimuli it encounters on a daily basis. One of the most fascinating aspects of these studies is the careful unraveling of the exact magic behind love and sex. As we find ourselves living in a world where relationships seem to be crumbling at a record pace, it can feel like the science of sex is anything but sexy, yet people want understanding and they want action. What good does it do to know how the brain processes love if you can't remember the last time you felt loved? Neuro has become a buzzword and holds credibility when used in research on neuroscience, neuropsychology, neurochemicals, neurofeedback, neurosensory response. I am now introducing “neuroloveology” to that esteemed list where you will discover ways to grow new neurons while growing an intimate relationship. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself. I've never, ever had ice cream. Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon West here.