Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC
Executive Director: AllCEUs.com
Trigger Warning and Cautions
~ The following presentation involves frank discussions of kink and sexuality.
~ While not graphic, some of the content might be triggering for some people.
~ This series is meant to provide an overview to help clinicians to understand kink, BDSM and Poly, but is by no means all inclusive. It is designed to increase awareness of common issues and help clinicians identify areas where they may need further training.
~ Define Kink
~ Learn about the breadth of kink including but not limited to BDSM activities
~ Learn about the prevalence of kink
~ Identify ways that a kink-aware therapist can modify assessment paperwork to be more inclusive
~ Learn about the PLISST model for treatment
~ Explore the application of the Johari window
~ Review the “Kink Aware Pledge”
What is Kink
~ It’s a form of “playing.” It’s everything that falls outside of the confines of having sex simply to orgasm, which means it can take many different forms.
~ Kink is an umbrella term that includes everything from sadomasochism (SM) to bondage, fantasy, sensation and toy play and furries.
~ Furries are a subculture of the kink scene that dress up in fur suits to do animal role playing. Not your cup of tea? No worries. There are also leather folk, rope experts and more.
~ The first rule of the kink community is that you lose the right to judge others. What one person is into may not be your cup of tea, and that is okay.
~ In a world where women have long been told sex is just to make babies, addressing what gets you off can be a powerful way to take control of your sexuality
Getting Into Kink
~ Set boundaries beforehand with lists like the “Yes/No/Maybe”
~ Read, explore websites that feature sex toys, alternate sexual activities
~ A mistake people make A lot of people get the idea that kink/BDSM somehow magically absolves you from having to communicate, or figure out what you like.
~ “After all, if one partner is always in control, not only is there no need for communicating, and no room for the submissive partner to voice their wishes or needs.”
A Brief Exploration of Kink
A more complete listing can be found here on the BDSM Wiki
~ A is for Age Play, Anal Play
~ B is for Bondage (alone or with someone else) including blindfolds
~ C is for Cuckolding (having sex with someone else to arouse (or humiliate) your partner, chastity
~ D is for Dominance, Discipline, Deep Throating
~ E is for Exhibitionism
~ F is for Fetishism –worship or humiliation, Financial worship, Furries
~ G is for Gagging or Grooming
A Brief Exploration of Kink
~ H is for Humiliation including name calling and verbal abuse
~ To humiliate someone is to assert power over him by denying and destroying his status claims
~ Hazing rituals emphasize that the group takes precedence over its individual members—bonding
~ The sub has to find the strength and self-esteem to come to terms with his humiliation
~ Erotic humiliation is consensual psychological humiliation performed in order to produce erotic excitement or sexual arousal. This can be for either the person(s) being humiliated and demeaned or the person(s) humiliating, or both.
~ NOTE: Please do not humiliate anyone in a Vanilla setting such as a restaurant or supermarket with a possibility of a vanilla person seeing this and being triggered or offended.
A Brief Exploration of Kink
~ I is for Impact play (hands, paddles, whips, brushes)
~ J is for Japanese bondage “Shibari” is the art of binding someone (more on that in the BDSM episode)
~ K is for Klismaphilia –pleasure from enemas
~ L is for Limits hard and soft
~ M is for Masochism deriving pleasure from pain
~ N is for needles, non-suicidal self-injuring (NSSI)
~ Outdoor sex, orgasm denial, obedience training
~ P is for Pregnancy
~ Q is for Quirofilia (hand fetish), queening
~ R is for roleplay
A Brief Exploration of Kink
~ S is for submission, scat play,
~ T is for teacher/student, talking dirty, threesome
~ U is for Urophilia (Water sports)
~ V is for Voyeurism (consensual), vinyl
~ W is for Whips and wax play
~ Z is for Zappers
Polydynamic Relationships in BDSM
~ In BDSM sometimes alternate relationship structures are referred to as “family” or “polyservice”
~ Master, Dominant or Daddy is in charge of multiple slaves, submissives or littles.
~ These relationships may or may not have a sexual component to them, and the focus is on how the submissive can contribute resources to the dominant partner, and provide for some of their needs or advance their goals.
Kink and NSSI
~ “What are your expectations or motivations for engaging in intense sensation play?”
~ “What kinds of thoughts and feelings do you typically experience prior to intense sensation play?”
~ “What kinds of thoughts and feelings do you typically experience during intense sensation play?”
~ “What kinds of thoughts and feelings do you typically experience after intense sensation play?”
~ “How does intense sensation play affect how you feel in relation to others?”
~ “How does intense sensation play affect how you feel about yourself?”
~ Findings of Michael Aaron, Ph.D.
~ Individuals that struggled with NSSI experienced overwhelming negative feeling states prior to self-injury, then felt a wave of relief and distraction, followed by deep regret and shame afterwards.
~ The BDSM group however stated that they felt excitement and anticipation ahead of time, a sense of excitement and pleasure during the encounter, and a wave of deep connection to their partner afterward, as well as a stronger sense of self-empowerment and authenticity.
Changing the Assessment
~ No Married/Divorced/Single/Widowed questions
~ Ask open ended questions
~ “Tell me about your romantic relationships.”
~ “Tell me about your partners.”
~ “What struggles do you face in your love life?”
~ “Do you have any sexual partners?”
~ “Are you in a relationship? With whom?”
~ “Do you have sex with men, women or both?”
~ “Do you or your partner have sexual or romantic relationships with anyone else?”
~ “Are you and your partner monogamous*?”
~ Is the Kink involvement impairing the client’s health, happiness, ability to function independently? Or otherwise impairing the client’s functionality as the client defines it.
~ Are the therapist’s perspectives and value systems being used to make a negative judgement about the client’s BDSM involvement?
~ Are all parties involved in the BDSM relationship adults and capable of providing consent.
~ Do the participants have a clear and realistic understanding of the intended and potentially unintended short and long term impact of the Kink/BDSM activity?
~ Are they willing to accept all of the potential outcomes of engaging in the activity or relationship?
~ What is your understanding about consensual poly/kink/BDSM?
~ Have you discussed issues about consent with your partners?
~ How do you define consent in your practice/relationships?
~ Do changes made within the relationship dynamics involve the active consent of all partners regardless of D/s status?
~ Can you choose to leave the relationship? If so what supports and barriers exist?
~ Does the dominant demonstrate a responsible approach to those under his/her authority?
~ Do you feel respected and valued as a result of engaging in BDSM/kink/poly? How does this help you fulfil your personal needs, wants and desires?
~ Do you feel a sense of expansion or liberation as a result of engaging in the BDSM/Kink/Poly activities?
Useful questions for the therapist
~ How aware is the client of their own boundaries, limits and needs?
~ What do you know of what the client is doing to make sure their BDSM/Kink practice is safe, sane and consensual?
~ Is the behavior experienced as nourishing or diminishing?
~ What does the behavior ‘do’ for the client?
~ What might it release the client from?
~ Is client discomfort limited to or associated with speciﬁc practices, scenes or words?
~ What does the client enjoy or value within their alternative relationship or practices?
~ When thinking about voicing concerns, consider which part of the practice does not feel ‘okay’ to you, the therapist?
Dealing with Countertransference
~ “Cultural countertransference” was coined by Perez Foster in 1998 to describe the countertransference feelings experienced by psychotherapists, who serve culturally diverse populations.
~ In the practice of BDSM, emotions and behaviors that are normally considered unhealthy and undesirable, namely, shame, powerlessness, domination, submission, receiving pain, giving pain, giving up control, are normalized and eroticized.
~ Cultural countertransference, as it applies to kinky clients and their sexuality professionals, means that professionals have to confront their own mainstream value system, theoretical beliefs and practice orientation, subjective biases and feelings about various aspects of BDSM, and their own sexuality.
Common Therapeutic Issues
~ Five common psychotherapeutic issues individuals who practice BDSM may raise.
~ Coming out/been outed
~ Guilt and Shame
~ Internalized kinkophobia
~ Three common relationship issues people who practice BDSM may present with.
~ Mixed orientation relationships
~ Mismatched sexual interests
~ Other and Othering identify the ways in which personal psychotherapy others
~ Othering describes the reductive action of labeling a person as someone who belongs to a subordinate social category defined as the Other. The practice of Othering is the exclusion of persons who do not fit the norm of the social group, which is a version of the Self.
~ Therapists must be aware of Kinkophobia and heteronormative beliefs and identify the ways in which they other atypical sexualities.
~ Describe the process of acceptance.
~ Stage 1 – Self Discovery of having nontraditional sexual interests
~ Stage 2 – Disclosure to Others. …
~ Stage 3 – Socialization with others in the kink community
~ Stage 4 – Positive Self-Identification. …
~ Stage 5 – Integration and Acceptance. …
~ Permission to comfortably talk about interests and explore personal comfort levels and concerns.
~ Limited Information: Accurate, specific and relevant information is provided
~ Specific Suggestions: are made for homework assignments in line with the client’s interests and values and relationship agreements with other partners.
~ Ex. Exploring alternate relationship structures, doing a Yes, No, Maybe checklist with current partners, learning more about specific practices of interest…
~ Intensive Therapy: (Often a referral) to
~ Help client explore interests and sexual identity and decide how best to proceed.
~ Foster support and trust with each client by recognizing areas of compatibility and differences
Kink Aware Pledge
~ I won’t assume that the issue you’re seeking help with is caused by or is related to your kink or poly orientation.
~ I won’t make assumptions about your treatment goals – particularly that these goals include changing your sexual desires.
~ I won’t try to “cure” you of BDSM or poly desires.
~ I will be aware that any distress you have about your kink or poly identity may be a normal part of internalized cultural bias against your sexual orientation rather than evidence of a disorder. I will help you to locate and get support from community resources.
~ I will be sensitive to whether and how your kink or poly identity affects your work, social, and family relationships.
~ I will not assume abuse when you are in a BDSM relationship. I will not assume you are cheating or are tolerating cheating if you bring up other partners.
Kink Aware Pledge
~ I will not assume that BDSM interests mean that you are not also interested in vanilla sexual behaviors.
~ If you have experienced abuse within a BDSM relationship, I can help you to process and understand that. I know that this can sometimes happen and that it can be very difficult to talk about.
~ I can help you to navigate the terms of your poly relationship and negotiate agreements that best serve you and your partners, identifying and honoring your needs.
~ I will remain aware of my own issues and how they may enter the therapy.
~ I will consult with colleagues who are knowledgeable about altsex behavior if you bring in issues that are outside of my knowledge base or boundaries of competence.
~ “Munch,” is a plainclothes gathering where people with different sexual interests meet and mingle
~ Kink Aware Professionals
~ A majority of adults experiments with kink-related behaviors in their lifetime.
~ It is important for therapists to understand the range of behaviors which might occur and be sensitive to the needs of those with alternative sexual lifestyles.
~ Therapists are advised to do significant reflection on their own attitudes and values about sex as well as the variety of sexual behaviors.
~ Would you do it?
~ If you wouldn’t do it, do you feel there is something wrong or harmful with it? If so, what and why? (explore biases)
~ There are many books out there on becoming a kink-aware therapist and kink-related behaviors.