Shift Happens Therapy

Kink, BDSM, Fetishes and Alternative Lifestyles

Kink, BDSM and Consensual Power Dynamics

 

Kink Knowledgeable Counseling

I am a kink knowledgeable and sex positive therapist. I am affirming of consensual alternative sexualities and have advanced knowledge about kink and fetishes, BDSM (Bondage & Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sadomasochism), consensual power dynamics/Master/slave relationships, and the kink community. Although I have lots of education and experience regarding these topics, nobody knows everything.  I am happy to discuss and learn about what kink and BDSM means for you, and how that relates to your counseling goals.

Sometimes I help people with issues directly related to kink and BDSM. Sometimes, we are working on other issues, and it’s helpful to not have to explain background information or worry about judgment.

Is Kink Healthy?

Like more mainstream sexual expression, kink/BDSM can be healthy or unhealthy. If your sexual tastes run more mainstream, it may be difficult to understand the appeal. If your partner expresses interest in exploring kink, you may not understand why they want to explore an activity that doesn’t turn you on at all.

The mental health world has become more aware and accepting of BDSM and non-mainstream sexuality. Just like homosexuality, BDSM was once concerned a paraphilia (abnormal sexual desire) in the mental health field. Now we know that BDSM is an alternative form of sexual expression, not a peversity.

It’s helpful to think of kink/BDSM as adult play. An adult can want to play the “big, scary Dom” that binds the helpless heroine without it being a reflection of deeper issues. Sometimes it’s fun to explore new roles and activities.

There are lots of different activities, orientations, and sexual expressions that fall under the umbrella terms “BDSM” and “kink.” Healthy kink requires good communication and absolute respect of boundaries, safety, and everyone’s limits.

Hands down, the most important element in healthy sexual expression is consent. Healthy kink requires the consent of everyone involved, including bystanders.

Mainstream portrayals of kink and the BDSM community often focus on the titillating aspects of BDSM, or show examples of unhealthy BDSM dynamics based on manipulation or non-consent.  One example of unhealthy BDSM is the Fifty Shades trilogy.  While this works as a fantasy, nonconsensual relationships, emotional manipulation, and disregarding boundaries and limts are most definitely is not acceptable in the real world.

This issue can be especially confusing if you are new to kink or just beginning to explore your kink or fetish-related desires. A big element of the fantasy for many people

 

 

Rules for Healthy BDSM/Kink Play

  • Healthy expression of BDSM always involves everyone’s consent (including bystanders).
  • In BDSM, power flows from the bottom up. This means the person who is having the action done to them (the bottom or submissive) 100% controls the parameters of the play, including allowed activities and intensity of play. 
  • At any time, the bottom may stop the activities byevoking a safeword that is agreed upon ahead of time. Saying the safeword 100% stops the play.
  • Activities are negotiated beforehand and all parties agree on what is acceptable. Best negotiation practices are to agree what will be done, instead of what is not okay. 

 

My counseling office is a safe place where you can discuss all the aspects of yourself and your life confidentially and without judgement. Even my non-kinky clients appreciate that I am open-minded, affirming of diverse belief systems/lifestyles, and not easily shocked.

 

Kink-Related Issues I Help With

  • Consent, Negotiation, and Healthy Exploration of Kinks, Fetishes, BDSM
  • Consensual Power Dynamics
  • Healing from Abuse/Sexual Assault/Consent Violations
  • Resolving relationship conflict around BDSM and fetishes
  • Navigating identity, role, and lifestyle issues

Kink-Related Issues I Am Not a Good Fit For:

  • Sex Therapy  I am happy to discuss kink and sex-related issues, I do not specialize in sex therapy.  If that is your primary area of concern, I am happy to connect you with some great, kink-knowledgeable sex therapists I know.
  • Persuading/Convincing/Manipulating your partner(s) to indulge your fetish/kink/preferred lifestyle against their preferences. Everyone’s Consent Matters!

Further Reading & Resources:

 

 

Guides and Advice Regarding Kink, BDSM and Power Dynamics

Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns  by Philip Miller and Molly Devon

“The classic guide to sadomasochism by two experienced players. This unabashed, entertaining book strips away myth, shame and fear, revealing the truth about an intense form of eroticism too long misunderstood and condemned. It is fully indexed and includes over 225 photos and illustrations, a 250-plus word glossary, appendices with over 650 contacts for SM related clubs, stores, craftspeople and literature.”

Playing Well with Others  by Lee Harrington and Mollena

“Whether you’re a trembling novice or a jaded expert, there’s always something new to be discovered in the endlessly changing, complex and titillating world of kink. While there are plenty of other books out there that explain how to give a spanking or tie a half-hitch, Playing Well With Others is the first book that explains kink culture — the munches, parties, leather bars, conferences, workshops, fetish nights, exploratoriums and all the other gatherings of kinksters that turn BDSM and leather from a bedroom predilection to a lifestyle and a community.”

Dear Raven and Joshua: Questions and Answers About Master/Slave Relationships  by Joshua Tenpenny and Raven Kaldera

The world of consenting Master/slave relationships often seems murky and mysterious from an outsider’s perspective, and there are few models for those who are tentatively venturing into it. When it’s not just a fantasy any more, reality often turns out to be so different from fantasy that would-be owners and slaves don’t know how to make it work in a sustainable way. This book is as far from fantasy as it gets. Written by a real-life Master/slave couple who counsel people in power-dynamic relationships, Dear Raven and Joshua answers real questions about real problems encountered in daily living with M/s. Whether you’re playing part-time with a BDSM lifestyle, live in a leather household, or are attempting a 24/7 total power exchange, you’ll find this book is a trouble-shooting resource you won’t want to pass up.”

Building the Team  By Joshua Tenpenny & Raven Kaldera

“Instead of an adversarial model, this book outlines a cooperative Teamwork model where the dominant and submissive members work together to make effective progress in the goals husbands and a suburban swinger couple to polyamorous parents and a gay male triad–who candidly share their struggles, fears, hopes, and the secrets of their success in open relationships.”

Conquer Me: girl-to-girl wisdom about fulfilling your submissive desires  by Kacie Cunningham

“Submissive women have needs just like anybody else. But how can a woman get her needs met when she’s relinquished her power to her dominant partner? With warmth, wisdom and a down-to-earth approach, experienced submissive Kacie Cunningham analyzes the realities of the dominant-submissive lifestyle and suggests ways in which both partners can experience the greatest possible growth and pleasure. At the heart of the book is an emotion Kacie has dubbed “Conquer Me” — which she defines as “the submissive’s internal demand for a show of strength.” Without a clear understanding of “conquer me,” both submissive and dominant may find themselves at odds — either fighting unhappily, or watching the passion ebb from their relationship. This book explains this unique need and how to get it met — essential knowledge for any submissive or couple who wants to get the most out of their D/s lifestyle.”

Real Service  by Raven Kaldera and Joshua Tenpenny

“In any consenting and negotiated personal service relationship, there are hundreds of ways in which the servant can make the master’s life easier, and the master can manage the servant most effectively. Why is it that we usually only hear about a few of these ways? From housework to driving to child care to personal care, nearly anyone who is in service (or who would like to be) has dozens of skills they already know that they can offer as a service, and there are countless more practical everyday skills they can learn. Real Service is a handbook for service-oriented submissives and the people they serve, providing techniques to help a service relationship function smoothly, and suggestions for service that can be offered.”

Books on the Psychology of Kink and Resources for Helping Professionals

Different Loving  by Brame, Brame & Jacobs.

“This classic book is one of the original arguments for BDSM as healing. Rejecting theories that explain S&M in terms of low self-esteem or regressed sexuality, they portray sexual dominants, submissives and fetishists “as they see themselves: loving and compassionate individuals” for whom pain is pleasure and physical bondage is psychologically liberating.”

Radical Ecstasy  by Dossie Easton & Janet W. Hardy

“Leather, tantra and spirit combine in this revolutionary sex book, which partners BDSM and sacred-sex practices. For millennia, seekers have used physical and emotional extremes to achieve transcendence and exaltation. Today, many BDSM and leather practitioners are discovering the potential of SM practice to reach personal, interpersonal and spiritual goals. With trademark frankness and humor, these popular BDSM/sexuality authors share techniques using tantric breathing, visualization and movement with BDSM to create states of transcendence during solo and partnered sexual and practice. The authors also document their own journeys into the realm transcendent kink: one author journeys Eastern and pagan spiritual paths while the other struggles to accept bliss. They share their triumphs, too: when conceptual frameworks cease to matter and bodies and spirits combine in radical ecstasy.”

Sexual Outsiders: Understanding BDSM Sexualities and Communities  by David Ortmann and Richard Sprott.

“Sexual Outsiders looks at the challenges and experiences of those in the Bdsm community and explores the erotic and psychological landscape of this often misunderstood culture, including concepts of power, personal growth, overcoming challenges, and forming communities.The authors write of research, theory, and therapeutic practice with clients who are sexual adventurers. In an excellent and thoughtful deconstruction of the mainstream sexual culture, they explore the question of “how did we get here?” and, further, “how can we get somewhere better?”

Ties that Bind  by Guy Baldwin, edited by Joseph W. Bean

“The writings of one of the most respected and knowledgeable people on the subject of SM/leather/fetish erotic style has been compiled in this book. Issues regarding relationships, the community, the SM experience, and personal transformation, as they relate to this form of erotic play, are addressed. Unlike many in the mental health field, Mr. Baldwin takes the approach that this style of erotic play can definitely be part of a healthy expression of one’s sexuality. Many have benefitted from his sound advice in seminars, workshops and through his many published articles. Now, much of this man’s wisdom has been published for you in this book.”

Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life  by Emily Nagoski

“An essential exploration of why and how women’s sexuality works—based on groundbreaking research and brain science—that will radically transform your sex life into one filled with confidence and joy…Cutting-edge research across multiple disciplines tells us that the most important factor for women in creating and sustaining a fulfilling sex life, is not what you do in bed or how you do it, but how you feel about it. Which means that stress, mood, trust, and body image are not peripheral factors in a woman’s sexual wellbeing; they are central to it. Once you understand these factors, and how to influence them, you can create for yourself better sex and more profound pleasure than you ever thought possible.”

Memoirs, Autobiographies and Historical Accounts

Urban Aboriginals: A Celebration of Leathersexuality  by Geoff Mains.

This innovative book pioneered in sensitively exploring and celebrating leathersexuality. As relevant today as when it was written 20 years ago, Urban Aboriginals is an intimate view of the gay male leather community. Within its pages, author Geoff Mains explores the spiritual, sexual, emotional, cultural and physiological aspects that make this “scene” one of the most prominent yet misunderstood subcultures in our society.”

Sex with Shakespeare: Here’s Much To Do About Pain, But More with Love  by Jillian Keenan.

“Jillian Keenan tells a story of discovery and sexual awakening as she comes to grips with then explores her spanking kink. Through this memoir filled with joy and heartbreak, travel and contemplation, sex and kink, Jillian weaves her knowledge and love of Shakespeare to illustrate her life as well as moments of her life to interpret Shakespeare.”

Who’s Been Sleeping in Your Head?  by Brett Kahr

“Based on the largest-ever survey of sexual fantasies, and drawing on the author’s twenty-five years of clinical practice, this “anatomy of secret desire” does for sexual fantasy what Kinsey did for sexual behavior. However, unlike Kinsey’s books, which were almost unreadably dense and data-driven, Who’s Been Sleeping in Your Head? features narrative accounts of sexual fantasies and the author’s own insightful interpretations of how those fantasies affect our lives. Kahr reveals the astonishing truth behind secrecy, shame and taboo, and demonstrates how sex fantasies exert a more powerful influence on our emotions, behavior, and relationships than we ever imagined.”

Jolted Awake: An Unconventional Memoir  by Richard Levine, M.A., M.F.T.

Whether one calls it “enlightenment,” “spiritual awakening” or “Self-realization,” teachers and gurus from every time, place and tradition have said that there are many paths to the top of the mountain. The view from the top, however, is the same. While there is no one right way to get there, the journey that Richard Levine- a/k/a “slave Rick”- took, and continues to take, has been engaging in a consensual Master/slave (M/s) relationship, which included sadomasochistic practices, he made an important discovery. Much to his surprise, he found the challenges in his life and the ways he was different from societal norms and expectations no longer needed to prompt shame and guilt. Instead, when directly faced in the context of his M/s relationship, they could serve as a catalyst for the greatest peace, joy and fulfillment he has ever known.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman  by Jill Lepore.

” Like every other superhero, Wonder Woman has a secret identity. Unlike others, she also has a secret history. In Jill Lepore’s riveting work of historical detection, Wonder Woman’s story provides the missing link in the history of the struggle for women’s rights—a chain of events that begis with the women’s suffrage campaigns of the early 1900s and ends with the troubled place of feminism a century later.”

 

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