Saturday, October 4, 2008

Your Thoughts on Therapists

The responses to my recent post about therapists understanding our kink were so illuminating that I want to share them with you.
Ms. Betty - Hermione, I tend to have strong feelings on this subject, so if it is alright with you I'm going to borrow your blog for a moment and explain to your readers why I feel the way I do.
Always, always, always insist on a kink aware professional.
A therapist's take on the subject says a lot about them than just what they think of kink.
Also, keep in mind that if you would not feel comfortable divulging your interest in kink to your therapist it means you probably do not trust said therapist. That is a big warning sign that should be heeded. Trust is vital to therapy being successful, if you don't feel comfortable with your therapist you need to find someone else, whether kink is ever brought up or not.
Bonnie - When I read your post, my first thought was that perhaps old Dr. Ruth was simply out of touch. Upon further thought, though, it occurred to me that her position is actually very wise and beneficial to her patients. If she doesn't understand kink, she can't help people work through their problems. It's probably better in this case that she respectfully refers them to another professional than attempt to resolve issues with which she has no familiarity.
If I needed to visit a therapist regarding an issue unrelated to sex or relationship, I would focus on finding a professional who could help with the situation at hand. I would not out myself unless I had to do so.
Interesting question...
Sara - As a trained psychotherapist, I have pretty strong feelings on this one too. I agree that you can not be in productive therapy and keep secrets. It is undermining the process and thus yourself. On the other hand, therapists are people too, and some have prejudices, and all have short comings.
This is not like finding a podiatrist. Always interview a therapist and make sure they have experience in your areas of issue, and that you simply 'click'. You need to work with someone you feel you can like and who can like you.
This link: is an organization that refers to kink aware psychological professionals. Good question Hermione.
Oh yeah...the question. :) Yes I would discuss sexual spanking with no qualms. Any trained therapist is Ok with the basic range of sexual kinks. Domestic Discipline...I would be very very careful to be sure it was someone I really trusted.
Carly - I have to agree, you need to fully trust your therapist. I think being a spanko is a lot like being gay. It is your core sexuality, not a choice and not something you can wish away. In order to help you, a therapist must understand it.
Prefectdt - Warning actual experience reply.
From the psychologist that I saw, I found it was essential (and it took her some time to get the info out of me). Giving up the spanking lifestyle was one of the major factors that had opened up the chinks in the life armour and let the bad guys of the world get to me and cause the problems.
From the psychiatrist that I saw, no I would not open up to that idiot ever. I have only ever seen one psychiatrist professionally, so I am hoping that the one that I saw was an exception and not the rule. The idiot, after an initial chat of less than ten minutes, mis diagnosed me as having depression and started on a road that lead me to taking ever stronger and stronger pills with names ending in "pam" and the like, all of which did nothing but get in the way of leading my life.
Moral of this - Yes be prepared to open up to a professional but make sure that they are a competent trustworthy professional first.
Happy ending - I took up getting my butt whupped again, got my mind and life back on track and haven't taken or felt that I needed to take one "happy" pill since. Thanks to the psychologist not the psychiatrist.
Em - I haven't watched the video as I'm sitting in a coffee house at the moment and that doesn't seem to be the appropriate place to do so (must get headphones for laptop so I can watch videos in public in the future).
So without all of the information, here is my reply:
Yes, I've seen therapists in the past and some of them were told about my kinky predilections and some weren't. I'd say, as a general rule, it would be best to find a therapist with whom you felt comfortable sharing your deepest darkest secrets. You may not think, going into therapy, that they apply to the situation at hand but the truth is you never really know how everything is connected until you start digging through it.
As for Dr. Ruth referring her patients elsewhere. Well, I think if she is really unprepared to handle them then the most professional thing she can do is refer them to someone who can. That said, it's a very vulnerable spot going to someone for help and I can only think it must be detrimental on some level for a patient to be told that their therapist can't work with them over something like that.
On a somewhat similar note - I've been toying with the idea of asking my masseur if he's comfortable seeing me when I'm sporting bruises but haven't found the courage yet.
I find sometimes that after particularly strenuous scenes my butt isn't the only part of me that's sore. I'd dearly love to go in for a nice relaxing massage but don't want to freak the masseur out!
Anyone else broached this subject with similar professionals?
Michael - Hermione, very insightful and thought provoking question. I must say the answers from your readers are on par with anything you could get from a therapist. Like Em said it must be very disheartening to have a therapist tell you he/she can't help you because of your special kink. Doesn't that defeat the whole point of therapy and serve as a setback? And like Ms Betty and others said, trust is key so you must feel comfortable with your therapist and be able to discuss everything including that you are a spanko. Defeats the purpose otherwise.
Prefectdt, so glad all is well and you are back on the sunny side of the street again. :)
jane - The therapist i was seeing in no way could handle it! lol
She would assume it was my way of dealing with emotional pain..which i guess it kinda is, but knowing her...First of she wouldn't even know what the word kink meant...and then she would probably give me advice on domestic violence. lol
So my answer is uh uhhh, nope. lol
pmduo - I'd like to answer the question from two perspectives. My partner is a therapist and has an interesting take on this. Prior to our relationship he hadn't spanked anyone and he said that if someone had told him then they were being spanked he would probably have treated it as a problem. Now that he is more knowledgeable about it (and a happy participant in the process!) he has a different view on why people would want to be spanked.
He believes you should be able to talk about anything in therapy and that a good therapist should not put their personal judgments onto what is being discussed. The more he knows about a patient, the easier it is to work with them, however, he doesn't feel that spanking is necessarily something that has to be brought up in therapy. Certainly if there is a problem, if you are unsure if it is ok, if you are having issues with your partner around communication and this is part of it, but it may be completely irrelevant to what you are in therapy for. He says that often patients like to tell therapists kinky stuff just to see if they will shock them, not because it has value to the therapy. He did warn that if you bring it up with a therapist you should be prepared for a lot of questions and concern around the issue of domestic violence. It is appropriate for a therapist to ensure that you are doing this consensually and aren't being hurt (more than you want).
So that in a nutshell is what he told me, hopefully I've said it well - I tried to get him to post this but he wouldn't!
My point of view as someone who has been in therapy is that I wouldn't talk about it. Mainly because I think it is a non-issue. It would be like going to a therapist and talking about my favorite food or books I like to read. What would be the point? I don't have concerns or unresolved issues with spanking - it is something I enjoy that I'm perfectly ok with so there is really nothing to talk about.
Anyway thanks for the question - we both liked it!
Belle - I actually think what Dr. Ruth says makes sense. she's not saying that people who enjoy sadomasochistic sex are "bad" or "wrong." she's just saying that she has limits on what she can handle, and that's fine. she doesn't embarrass the couple, but simply tells them a little white lie and refers them to other therapists.
As far as telling a therapist about my kink, i think i might. i think my sexuality is integral to my personality and the way i handle life, so i think it would be a good idea. however, that would be after multiple sessions when i felt comfortable with the therapist.
Hermione - When I considered this question I couldn't help thinking about the character Tony Soprano in the television show The Sopranos. He regularly visits a therapist because of anxiety attacks, but repeatedly derails the sessions when he is unable to share details of what's troubling him because it's something illegal.
I agree with Bonnie and Em that Dr. Ruth was right in referring her patients elsewhere if she felt uncomfortable with their sexual practices. As Sara said, therapists are people too.
If I were to visit a therapist, I would probably do my best not to reveal anything about my preferences unless they were relevant to the situation. Even then, it would be difficult to reveal them, because you can't unring the bell. I have had first hand experience with mental health professionals who were less than open-minded.
Thank you, everyone, for your contributions.


ThomasIII said...

I wish that I'd slipped into here when you first posted it, and didn't have to respond late.

I agree that a therapist who feels that they cannot reliably help an individual because of their own experiences or beliefs should point those people elsewhere. It would be no different than if the therapist was asked to treat someone with any number of other lifestyles that the therapist didn't subscribe to, like homosexuality or ageplay. True, their reason for turning the person away may be more for prejudice than for seeing that they get the best help, but it's still the best thing in the long run.

As for Em's question, my Joyce recently had an annoying blood pocket on her bottom that appeared after an intense session and kept bursting during following sessions. She was reluctant to express the problem to her doctor, since it would mean outing herself. In the end, she had to spill the beans, and it turns out that the doctor took it all in stride. It turns out that she had a Staph infection that wasn't clearing up. She was prescribed some antibiotics, and the pocket eventually faded away.

Greenwoman said...

Very interesting topic Hermione. I've never discussed kinky stuff with my therapist before. Most of them have a hard enough time wrapping themselves around the mysticism that I practice, so talking about stress buster spankings, hasn't been high on my list of things to share.

However, there are kink friendly professionals of all sorts. You just need to check out social networks like fet life and others which list therapists who will discuss this and many other topics about sexuality and recovery/life issues. Its not always easy to find someone in your area, but I truly believe that a good therapist finds a way to land on common ground with a patient. If they can't do that, then they try to find a referral for the patient with someone who can help.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hermione,
Very interesting discussion. I have been to counselors, therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists in my life and received actual benefit from exactly one of them. I think this issue is not professional-specific. Discuss your kink with somebody you trust who has a record of being supportive and helpful to you. Don't discuss it with someone who hasn't or isn't.

I would be disappointed if I found a therapist I trusted and then found myself referred out because of my kink, but oh well. Everybody has boundaries and therapists are entitled to have theirs.

Oh! The one time I got actual help in discussing a sexual issue, it was with my minister! Surprised? I was. And he didn't charge me. I thought I'd be embarrassed the next Sunday, but I wasn't. Now, I am not advocating that everybody just open the yellow pages and find a minister and go discuss your kink. This relationship met my earlier criteria.

Anonymous said...

We're a little late here... but do think this is a great topic. We know a few spanko friends that see therapists of some sort, and some are open about their spanko side and some are not. Know for a fact that there are some 'kink friendly' therapists out there... and we really think they'd be worth finding for any spanko that wants professional help. Doesn't make sense to hide such a core part of your wiring.

Really like your Tony Soprano analogy. Hiding what he did really slowed his progress down. When it comes to spanking... where frankly it seems that many do use if as a form of therapy (stress relief, guilt relief... and way to communicate in a relationship)... it's even more relevant than being a mobster.

Todd and Suzy

Anonymous said...

I broached the subject with my massage therapist. I was not bruised at the time, but wanted to plan a time to get a massage after a hike with my guy - and I knew I would either have marks or avoid the fun I was craving. So I just kind of stated, "Do you mind if I discuss something of a personal nature?" "sure" "so, the only problem with planning my massage for next sat after the hike, is my guy gets in friday and I kind of have kink - we enjoy spanking and my bottom will Hopefully have a few bruises. I don't want to subject you to them if it will make you uncomfortable." Next came the professional questions concerning such activity being consentual and if any bleeding/injury that would preclude massage was a conern. Our play isn't that severe so she said she was just fine with it and arranged for us to have our side by side massage with a therapist of like mind that would be comfortable seeing the marks. It was tough, but it actually went really well.