Layla, a 30ish queer sub who enjoys domination by her partners—her name has been changed for her privacy—has been in therapy for about five years. She first sought therapy when she divorced a long-term spouse and began exploring a relationship with a dom. Layla’s first therapist assured her that her treatment plan was “kink-friendly”—a designation Layla felt was crucial to her emotional well-being and progress. How that was expressed in practice, though, didn’t feel understanding or inclusive of Layla’s sexuality at all.

“My partner has been very key to my recovery in that he has been there both emotionally and, when I have needed him to be, in a dominant way,” she said. “But I soon realized that if I discussed my kinks or my dom/sub relationship [with my therapist], she was extremely uncomfortable with it—she told me [my dom] was controlling.”

“Once it became clear my kinks in general were an issue, I stopped telling her anything more,” Layla said. “I wasn’t ashamed of being submissive and didn’t want to change. I’m glad that I wasn’t primarily seeing my therapist about sexuality, because the emotional result may have been much more damaging.”

The widening cultural acceptance and exploration of different sexual identities, and consequently more clients and their partners needing to address questions in the context of counseling and therapy, has caused an uptick in kink- and non-monogamy-informed therapy. With this expanding market comes mental health clinicians who market their services as sex-positive—some who are qualified, and some who have little experience with kink in terms of their practice, but understand that there’s demand for kink-friendly therapy. Many of the latter variety of therapists are ill-equipped to treat these clients and rarely have the background to address inquiries surrounding kink because of their own clinical understandings of and training around deviance and mental illness, according to Psychology Today. Instead, they benefit from a growing client base —without the perspective necessary to treat them effectively.

Kink sexualities are vast and nuanced, meaning that if a client is seeking care for sexuality or if it comes up as a secondary concern, there are varying levels of kink awareness and treatment. Because kink, particularly, is often based on power dynamics, it’s easy for a clinician to pathologize these behaviors, when, in reality, they are often positive and healthy modes of sexual expression. Even if a client is actively concerned with the impact kink has on the rest of their mental health, consensual kink behavior does not equate to a mental disorder.

Read the Full Article:

How to Find a Sex-Positive Therapist by Penda N’Diaye

July 22, 2020