What is Kink/Poly Friendly?

What is a kink-friendly provider of health care?

You deserve to work with a health care professional who is knowledgeable, experienced, and respects your gender, sexual orientation, and erotic preferences. There are many ways for adults to express and enjoy intimacy, sexuality, and gender. Among them:

  • heterosexual / gay / bisexual / lesbian
  • kinky / BDSM / leather
  • monogamous / open relationship / polyamory
  • transgendered
  • transvestite
Kink-friendly providers have extensive experience in these areas. They affirm all these orientations and identities.Kink-friendly therapists take the view that these are normal variations of sexuality and gender, which for the most part are best accepted and integrated into a person’s core identity. Instead of attempting to repress and shun these variations, they often need to be integrated in a person’s ongoing life and intimate relationships.In this view, kink-friendly providers differ from many other mental health professionals. Mental health professionals are now – with very few exceptions – gay-affirmative. Sadly, many many are not affirmative of other variations of sexuality or gender – such as bisexuality, polyamory, or the enjoyment of BDSM or erotic fetishes. Many mental health professionals believe, for example, that the enjoyment of a fetish will necessarily impair intimacy. A kink-friendly provider starts from the belief that it is not until a person’s inner erotic life is embraced and affirmed that he or she can be intimate with another. For many people self-acceptance of their atypical erotic or gender orientation is essential for both peace of mind and intimacy. For example just as self-acceptance of being gay is essential for a gay man to be intimate, self-acceptance of a kinky fetish is often essential for a kinky person to love intimately. Therapy directed at repressing such behaviors often creates shame and self-hatred, and this actually reduces a person’s capacity for intimacy.

Unfortunately, negative attitudes toward gender and erotic variation (and non-monogamy) are fairly widespread among mental health professionals, even though the latest version of the Diagnostic manual for the field (DSM-V) does not consider these variations mental health issues – unless they cause distress for the person. And sometimes there is distress.

The American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association no longer label mutually consenting BDSM as a sexual disorder (unless it is non-consenting or causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.) Kinky sex, fetishes, and BDSM can be a healthy part of adult sexuality.

Consenting BDSM is a normal variation of adult sexuality. Further, these professional associations hold that people who experience substantial distress in their life because of their BDSM or sexual orientation have a clinical disorder which is worthy of treatment (DSM-IV). However, not all psychotherapists agree with these gay-friendly and kink-friendly positions.

Because persons with these less common erotic and gender identities are often discriminated against, they frequently internalize shame, have difficulty coming out, or have difficulty accepting these parts of themselves. This is often the case when negative attitudes toward a person’s gender identity or erotic identity is internalized at a young age. As one gay man put it: “I learned to hate myself for being homosexual before I knew that I was one.” Something similar might be said by most persons who at a young age realized their gender or erotic fantasies were disapproved of. These internalized negative attitudes can impede the development of friendships and intimacy, and treatment by a kink-friendly provider can help heal some of this damage.

That being said, there are certainly some sexual turn-ons that do not work well, or work poorly for some people.Unwanted Sexual Fantasies and Behavior.Enjoyment of pornography can get in the way of friendships and intimacy. Some people obsess about sex as a way of avoiding intimacy and other difficult feelings like sadness and anxiety. Some may try to “sexualize” all aspects of all relationships, when it is inappropriate to do so. Or, a person’s sexual turn-ons may be so refined that it is difficult to find a partner, in which case they may want to work on expanding their sexual repertoire. Or, an erotic preference may be enjoyed by one but not both of a couple, causing great conflict within the relationship. Or, a person may have difficulty in self-acceptance or coming out to potential intimate partners. Clearly, sexual behavior that involves non-consenting adults is a problem, and as such remains a diagnostic condition in DSM-V

There are some erotic fantasies which you may decide are best left as fantasy.

Erotic fantasies which are truly dysfunctional for a person, or sexual behaviors which need to be changed or abandoned, are often complicated with layers of guilt and shame. Coming to terms with these fantasies and behaviors requires setting aside the shame in favor of self-understanding. As long as shame obscures the understanding of unwanted behaviors, working to change them is like working in a dark fog.

This whole process can be easier if you are working with a therapist who you know is comfortable with these issues.