It’s only an “alternative lifestyle” if we assume that vanilla sex is the norm. In fact, many people have an interest in kink and BDSM (which stands for bondage, domination, submission and masochism). While kink and BDSM can be seen as taboo and unconventional, they’re actually quite common. A study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that nearly half of all adults in the United States have engaged in some form of consensual kink or BDSM activity at some point in their lives. And this is nothing new — people have uncovered the depiction of erotic pain in historical artifacts such as the Kama Sutra and Greek and Roman art.
Kink and BDSM can involve a wide range of activities and practices, including bondage, spanking, role-playing and more. For many people, kink and BDSM can be a way to explore their sexuality and find new forms of pleasure and connection with their partner or partners.
While kink and BDSM can be a source of pleasure and connection, like anything, they can involve challenges and issues. These can include:
Frequently representations of kink in the media are stereotyped and negative, and the advice people get from friends and family can be full of stigma or just misinformed. A kink-knowledgeable therapist can be a powerful ally in correcting bad information and can provide a safe and nonjudgmental space to explore and discuss kink and BDSM interests and concerns and deal with feelings of shame or guilt.
A kink therapist can provide a safe space where each partner can express their desires and concerns without judgment and can help the couple navigate any conflicts that arise. The therapist can help partners explore their individual desires, work to find a common ground that is comfortable for both people, set boundaries and guidelines for play, consider alternative forms of sexual expression that are mutually satisfying, develop communication skills, build trust and intimacy, and address underlying issues that may be contributing to their differing levels of interest in kink and BDSM.
Kink or BDSM therapy can also be helpful for folks who have experienced trauma related to these experiences. In some cases, past partners may have had abusive kinks or did not get consent, leading to trauma and negative psychological effects. A kink-friendly therapist can provide support and guidance to help someone process and heal from these experiences.
Kink and BDSM can also intersect with mental health issues such as borderline personality disorder (BPD). People with BPD may help manage intense and unstable emotions through kink and BDSM activities. Sometimes this can lead to relationship challenges and conflicts, as well as potential risks to mental and emotional well-being. Kink therapy can provide support for folks with BPD to explore their kink interests in a safer, healthier way.
If you are adjusting to a change in circumstances like an illness or a disabling injury, a kink therapist can help you deal with the emotions and challenges you are facing.
The team at our clinic offers sex-positive, kink friendly counseling that is affirming and supportive of diverse sexual and gender identities.
Our therapists are trained in working with clients who have a range of kink interests and concerns, from those who are exploring their kink identity for the first time to those who have experienced trauma related to kink or BDSM activities. We take a client-centered and trauma-informed approach to erotic therapy, working collaboratively with you to develop goals and treatment plans that are tailored to your unique needs and concerns.
We know it can be difficult and even scary to find a good therapist who understands kink and BDSM. That’s why we prioritize creating a safe and welcoming environment where you can feel comfortable discussing your interests and concerns without fear of judgment or stigma.
If you’re looking for kink-friendly therapy services in the Chicago area or virtually throughout Illinois, we encourage you to reach out to us to learn more about our approach and services. We want to help you explore and navigate your kink and BDSM interests in a healthy and fulfilling way.