Kink Friendly Therapist by Jasmine St. John MS, LMFT
So, I’m looking at sexy photos on the internet and listening to the most recent episode of The Fetish Show.
Everything was going along like normal until I heard Dirk and Princess Zoe talking about Dr. Ruth. Apparently, she recently gave a statement about BDSM. She basically stated that she doesn’t work with kink clients because she can’t relate to them. She instead refers these clients to another therapist.
I have some strong reactions to Dr. Ruth’s statements, but probably not what you think. I’ll explain more in a minute. However, first a little background. Hi. I’m Jasmine St. John and I am a licensed therapist. I work almost exclusively with Alternative Sex clients in therapy. This means that I have the honor of talking with individuals, couples, and non-monogamy people about their lives. It is pretty awesome! It also means that I’m used to most people having no idea what my work is about AND/OR they are freaked out. There is some middle ground but not usually, when people find out what kind of work I do in this specialized field. (Small tidbit that you all already know — doing therapy with kink clients — it just the same as with any other clients about their lives and goals, you just get to talk about sexy power dynamic stuff too!)
Now back to Dr. Ruth and my reaction to her statement. I think that what she said makes perfect sense. I know a great number of sex therapists and most of them don’t feel comfortable working with non-traditional sexual expressions. I teach therapists on a regular basis about how to understand alt-sex, their own biases, and when to refer to a specialist. It makes perfect sense to me, that if you know something isn’t within your wheelhouse then you should let others take the lead. So good for Dr. Ruth for not pretending to be comfortable when she is not. I’m glad she refers out. Of course, as a therapist myself, I’m ever so curious as to whom she would refer.
The reason why I’m so curious is because there are not a lot of Alternative Sex Therapists out there. In fact, I’m one of only a few (however, I’m proud to say our numbers are growing!) Dirk and Princess Zoe were even asking about if kink friendly therapists exist (we do!) and if so where to find them? At this point, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to write a post with information on all this. So here we go…kink friendly therapists are a glorious bunch of individuals that strive to provide specific sex-positive therapeutic care to those clients involved in power dynamics. They aren’t just here to accept your “strange way” of doing things, they actually understand the BDSM parts. They know the words, the deeper meanings, navigate the expectations of those involved, and hopefully even provide guidance on achieving your goals.
The quick and dirty is that: kink friendly therapists get it. You don’t have to worry about judgement, explain it, or even know how to figure it all out. They are here to help!
Now, you might be wondering where exactly does someone go to school for such an approach to be a psychotherapist? Well, it is an emerging field to say that least. At this point, there aren’t schools directly teaching all this good stuff. However, I will say this: there is an organization like CARAS that is trying to change that. They are a group that looks to bridge the gap between the kink community, research, and therapy. CARAS is working to create curriculum for graduate schools that are teaching at least one semester of sex therapy. Also they are fine tuning the DVD to help reach and instruct therapists on how to work with Alt Sex clients. And if all of that wasn’t enough, they help support research in the field. Can you imagine a day where there is a ton of data about how BDSM works and all of the zillions of positive things that come from such with hard numbers (pun intended!)? We are working on it and it is exciting stuff. Because of this, CARAS has an annual conference that is happening in late May.
It is for health care providers, academics, and alt-sex individuals. The theme of this year’s conference is: “De-Pathologizing Alternative Sexualities”. I encourage any and everyone that might be interested to attend. I also happen to be presenting at the conference about “Strength Based D/s in Therapy”. So feel free to come by and say hello if you are in the area! If for some reason you can’t come to the conference and you need an alt-sex therapist. Well, there just happens to be a few great resources. Now do remember, there isn’t a huge list of therapists throughout the country but it is a start. If you are curious to also find kink friendly providers in other fields, these lists can help with that as well.
Alt Sex Therapist
Jasmine St. John MS, LMFT
Jasmine St. John is a licensed Systems Therapist. Her focus is working with clients on LGBTQIA and alternative sexuality topics. She has a private practice in Madison, Wisconsin where she sees people from across the nation using a sex-positive, strength-based approach.