Kink, ENM and Authority Transfer
Eroticism & sexuality are central to self and relational life. The Sexual Crucible, my original practice model, led me to integrate sexuality into relational therapy. In 2000, that differentiation-based approach supported my focus on kinky clients, alternative sexualities and relationship structures.
Kinky clients deserve therapists with a comprehensive understanding of kink experience: psychological, emotional, physical/medical, social and legal. They also deserve a therapist with seasoned clinical skills. This means creating client safety and establishing a strong alliance. (To clients who identify as kinky, I offer an addendum to my standard disclosure statement.)
Kinky and non-monogamous clients do not always present with kink-related or relational problems. Yet I maintain a detailed understanding of kink-related injuries and non-monogamy challenges.
Many clients experience minority stress from their erotic or relational lives. For some, it’s on top of anxiety already experienced due to racial, gender and body type discrimination.
The Kink Clinical Practice Guidelines is the current reference standard for kink-affirmative healthcare. There’s also a detailed scale that establishes therapist competence and proficiency.
International Kink Health Study (IKHS)
In December 2019, I was invited to join The Alternative Sexualities Health Research Alliance (TASHRA). As a Research Associate in a multidisciplinary team of clinicians and researchers, I helped develop the mental health sections of the International Kink Health Study, a multi-year longitudinal cohort study launched in 2021.
Non-Monogamous and Authority Transfer relationships
I have worked with many kinds of non-monogamous relationships for over 20 years, and maintained research-based continuing education. Non-monogamy is a broad term for relationships with a wide variety of commitment, in contrast to conventional two-partner monogamy. It offers freedom in both commitment and desire, which together are the “DNA” of all chosen relationships.
Freedom should be connected to personal responsibility, integrity and ethics (hence term Ethical Non-Monogamy, or ENM.) But we humans bring different kinds of personal development, values, cultures and ideas into our relationships, and most of us weren’t raised in non-monogamous families.
It can take years to master ENM skills, such as true transparency about the connections we want (and relationship anxiety management.) It’s largely about learning to create workable agreements, clear boundaries, emotional intelligence and empathy. These are all paths of personal development and maturity.
Non-monogamy faces social stigma and minority stress at work, in families and under the law. Race, gender and sexuality diversity add to this stress. To address a growing minority’s healthcare needs, ENM practice standards are emerging, via the APA Committee on Consensual Non-Monogamy, and elsewhere. There is supportive professional literature here, here and elsewhere.
Authority Transfer Relationships
I also have extensive experience working with (and educating) Authority Transfer relationship partners (including Master/slave, Dominance/submission, Domestic Discipline, etc.) These relationships require a voluntary, consensual and often detailed agreements made by the partners. They establish one partner as holding authority over the other (and there may be multiple partners). Each such relationship configures the authority differently.
As with ENM, it usually takes several years of dedicated effort to develop the skills necessary to maintain and grow these relationships. And similarly there is often crossover with kinky sexuality and gender diversity amongst the partners.