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Guest Blog: When You Have a Kinky Therapist

on Tuesday, 11 July 2017. Posted in NCSF News

by Nicole Guappone 

I first started seeing my therapist nearly three years ago. I wanted someone LGBTQIA+ friendly, sex-positive, and poly-aware. Kink was not a big part of my life yet. Still, the intake coordinator matched me with someone based on my requests and I’ve been with her ever since. A few months after I started seeing her, a friend invited me to an open house at a local dungeon. The next time I saw my therapist, I told her I went, and she listened just like she always does, until there was a pause in the conversation. “OK,” she said, “it’s time for The Conversation.” (That’s how it sounded, like The Conversation was capitalized.)

            In the interest of honesty and disclosure, my therapist revealed that she is a member of that dungeon and that this is one of the challenges of working with kinky clients and also wanting to remain in the local scene herself. Some therapists choose to stop playing in public, others will travel out of state to go to events. But some don’t want to give up the community they’ve already fostered in their area, and that’s understandable.

            So what’s it like having a therapist who is kink-identified? I, personally, really like it. It can be hard enough being kinky and dealing with all of the complex emotions that play can bring up, so it feels good having a therapist who “gets” it. As someone who likes to push her own boundaries and play with emotional edges, having a therapist like this is especially helpful. Is having a therapist like this also tricky sometimes? Absolutely. If you’re looking for a therapist and want one who is kink-identified or end up with one who is, here are a few things to keep in mind. 

 

1. Maintain Boundaries

One of the magical parts of therapy is that you get to spend an hour talking about yourself. Therapists interject, they help you process, they do their job. But the sharing is one-sided—that’s part of the deal.

            This professional therapist/client relationship can feel a little tainted if you suddenly know this personal thing about them—they’re kinky!—and it kinda feels like when you were a kid and you ran into a teacher at the grocery store. Teachers look so strange outside of the classroom…

            And now that you know one personal thing about your therapist, you might want to know more. Dominant or submissive? Relationship status? Biggest fetish? Guess what? It’s none of your business! Sure, at some point probably everyone who’s had a therapist has wondered about their therapist’s life. Every once in awhile you might even feel like you’re obligated to know more because you reveal to them your deepest, darkest secrets and vulnerabilities. It’s only fair, right?

            If you like your therapist and have been working with them a long time, it’s totally natural to be curious about what they’re like outside of the office. But trust them—their lack of sharing is for your own good. In training, therapists learn how to keep their personal biases from affecting their work with clients. You and I (most likely) haven’t had those lessons. So even if you know your therapist is kinky, understand that you know because it’s relevant to your professional relationship. It is not an invitation for more questions or prodding into their personal lives.

 

2. Negotiate and Plan Ahead

It’s a word we in the kink world all know. Negotiation! It’s important to hot, healthy scenes and/or non-monogamous relationships. But you just found out you might run into your therapist at the dungeon. Now what? Chances are, they are used to having these conversations, so they will probably tell you how they prefer to handle it. Maybe they like checking in before they go to events to make sure you don’t run into each other. Maybe they’d rather not check in and just bail if you happen to walk in while they’re there. But…what if one of you is already engaged in a scene? Have you broken the “rules”?

            There are no simple answers and there are always ethical guidelines. Some things are personal preference. Others, well…probably you don’t want to let the accidentally-seeing-your-therapist-in-a-scene-thing happen. Therapists have their own thoughts about all of this and they talk about it amongst themselves frequently—not even just kinky therapists, but any who may worry about seeing clients outside of the office.

            But I’ll tell you how my therapist and I handle it: It’s an ongoing process. If I know I’m going to an event this weekend, I’ll usually bring it up in session or at the end of the session. This in no way obligates her to tell me her plans, but now she knows mine. If she makes plans another weekend, sometimes she checks in with me before we end our session. We don’t even have to do this too often, usually only if specific events are coming up that the other is likely to go to.

            Despite the nature of your relationship with your therapist, it can still feel awkward talking about this stuff with them, especially when you’re being extremely cautious of those boundaries I mentioned earlier. But remember, it’s a sacrifice your therapist has chosen to make if they wish to stay active in the local community and it’s something you need to be OK with if you like seeing a therapist who can better understand this part of you.

            Some therapists and clients get specific, i.e. clients go to the club or events held on Friday nights and their therapist takes Saturdays. Or, one person takes odd-numbered dates, the other, even. That might work for some, not for others. Just find out what works best for you.

 

3. Process Together

This is something else that may be a personal choice. Typically, if my therapist and I run into each other at a non-play event or a conference, the next time we see each other in the office, we’ll start with that. The first time we ever ran into each other, both of us freaked out a bit and we processed together in our next session. She asked how I felt when I saw her there. I asked her how she felt when she saw me. We figured out how to best navigate those situations. I prefer—and she appreciates this—giving her at least a smile and nod of acknowledgement when I see her.

            Even still, no matter how many times we have this conversation, it’s always a little awkward. Processing doesn’t have to be long and drawn out; just take a few minutes at the start of a session if you like. I know that my therapist values this processing and it seems like it’s something we both need. Even if the conversation is awkward, I’m comfortable enough trying to navigate it with her. Ideally, you should be able to talk to your therapist about anything!

 

 

Being kinky and having a kinky therapist can be a blessing and a curse. Maybe a kink-aware therapist is all you need or want, especially if you don’t really plan to talk about your kink in session. But if you like to push yourself and your boundaries with your play, to learn about yourself and your partner(s) through play, it is amazing to work through these things with someone who understands kink on a deeper level. It’s just one more type of negotiation you learn how to do, and in the end, it’s all worth it.

Everyone has a story. What's yours?

on Friday, 07 July 2017. Posted in NCSF News

NCSF has heard a lot of stories over the past 20 years. Now we want to let others hear what you have to say. 

Have you been discriminated against because you are kinky or non-monogamous? We want to hear from you. 
 
We also want to hear your story if you've been outed or if you've outed yourself as a fetishist, cross-dresser, leatherman/woman, or because you're in a polyamorous or Lifestyle relationship. 
 
We also want to hear if you've been involved in a consent incident in a BDSM or non-monogamous encounter.

Please fill out a short survey for each story you'd like to tell us about:

 
Tell us your story and we will share it anonymously on www.ncsfreedom.org!

Divine Deviance

on Friday, 07 July 2017. Posted in NCSF News

 

 
Inline Image 1
 

More Info:

Divine Deviance will be by, about, and for the Kink/BDSM/Fetish community; this film and web series is also for anyone interested in the diversity of human sexuality and the creation of brother- and sisterhood outside of blood family. To our knowledge, this will be the first comprehensive documentary project that takes an in-depth look at Kink/BDSM/Fetish globally and not just on a local level.

Rather than a typical documentary, Divine Deviance will be a multi-part series: Each segment will include a lively roundtable introduction focusing on a specific theme and featuring a diverse group of Kink/BDSM/Fetish leaders from around the globe. The intro will segue into a deeper exploration of the same theme following one or two people from the round table. Each one of these chapters or episodes (introduction plus individual story) will run from 30-40 minutes - except for the first one about the History of Kink. As the foundation of the whole series it will take up about a full hour. The various episodes can be viewed separately, but multiple components can also be combined into a longer piece. The beauty of this approach is that we can produce the series incrementally and the audience can view selectively—picking an assortment of segments that will both fit their budget and suit their interests.

As a starting point, we are currently assembling an international advisory committee with representatives from all aspects of the Kink/BDSM/Fetish community—LGB and heterosexual, transgender and cisgender, women and men, differently abled, differently abled, people of all colors, and various nationalities. This group will help ensure that the project represents the true diversity of Kink/BDSM/Fetish.

As mentioned, Divine Deviance will cover a whole range of themes relevant to the Kink/BDSM/Fetish community. We will start with a few key topics and expand from there:

 

• History
• Gender
• Race
• Spirituality
• Mainstreaming

We are fundraising in collaboration with Kink/BDSM/Fetish organizations and allies around the world and will make extensive use of crowd- and social media-based funding. Our kickoff party took place in San Francisco on September 22nd 2016 at the famous/infamous Armory.

Guest Blog: A LIFE COACH IS NOT A PAID DOMME

on Thursday, 29 June 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, NCSF News

by Liz Harrison

Finding people who are “kink aware” to deal with personal problems is often difficult, but there are resources out there – like the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom‘s “Kink Aware Professionals” Directory. I’m listed there, which has lead to some interesting situations for me.

 

Life Coaches generally exist in a “wild west” territory next door to mental health professionals. We can operate without licenses in most places, which means that we can mostly define what we do for ourselves.

 

I’ve stumbled on a disturbing trend when it comes to life coaches in “kink world.” Apparently there are life coaches out there (primarily women) who are taking on the role of “Domme” in their clients’ lives. Sure, that might be exactly what they want, but if we’re being honest here, that should have lead to a referral to either a paid Domme, or to a local BDSM club or organization that helps people find Dommes.

 

For a while, I stayed away from writing this – as the calls from potential clients looking for a paid Domme not a Life Coach kept piling up. I broke when I had trouble explaining to one of those callers that what he was looking for was a paid Domme. He seriously believed that all women who are Life Coaches and are aware of “kink world” should happily take over being his Domme.

 

No. Just NO!

 

That one lead to a call from me to my own therapist, because I was starting to have trouble controlling my anger over the situation.

 

I have no desire to point fingers, or place blame. However, I am writing this to clear the air, before we get to the point where state regulatory agencies start making rules for us.

 

If you are a Life Coach, and you’re playing “Domme” for your clients, please stop – either stop playing Domme, or stop calling yourself a Life Coach. Be honest with yourself and your clients.

 

And if you’re thinking that you’re looking for a Life Coach, think about why. Are you looking for someone to talk with about difficult decisions you need to make in your life, or are you looking for someone to tell you what to do – just someone to give you orders to carry out? If you’re looking for the latter, you’re not looking for a Life Coach. You’re looking for paid Dominant.

 

We really do need to know and agree on the difference.

Naughty in N’awlins names Grand Marshals for Sexual Freedom Parade 2017

on Thursday, 22 June 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, NCSF News

Set to take place at 6pm, on July 5, 2017 in New Orleans, the Sexual Freedom Parade brings awareness to the current fight for sexual freedom issues: from discrimination to custody issues, as well as archaic laws outlawing sex toys, non-monogamy, and sex work. The Sexual Freedom Parade is sponsored by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), which is committed to creating a political, legal and social environment in the U.S. that advances equal rights for consenting adults who engage in alternative sexual and relationship expressions.

 

This year’s Sexual Freedom Parade will be the largest in the U.S. with more than 1,000 participants, a Brass Band, floats and dance troupes. The route will start on Iberville, behind the Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel and then head south before turning left on Chartres St. The parade will then take a left onto St. Louis and then a right onto Bourbon St. After marching for four blocks on Bourbon St, the parade will turn right on St. Ann and then again on Royal St. before heading back to the Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel for a Sexual Freedom Party. 

 

Everyone is encouraged to wear all white!

 

Bob Hannaford, organizer of the annual Naughty in N’awlins convention, is pleased to announce the following list of Grand Marshals that will ride on different floats in the Sexual Freedom Parade. “It is an honor to have such a diverse and inspiring list of leaders in the sex positive community come together to support this historic parade,” said Hannaford.

 

Sexual Freedom Parade Marshals

 

Keira Harris: Volunteer Director, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. “In an ideal world, I would not be afraid to show affection to both of my partners in public, my husband’s girlfriend would be able to get the same insurance benefits that I get, and my way of life would be normalized to the point that I wouldn’t require a kink aware professionals database to find an understanding and unbiased professional for services I need,” says Harris.

 

John & Jackie Melfi: Bloggers from OpenLove101.com and authors of the book “The Swinging Lifestyle: Questions You Are Afraid to Ask”. Their blog covers a variety of issues facing non-monogamous couples in today’s society and answers questions that people might have about the relationship model. They also own Colette, the largest chain of swinger’s clubs in the US.

 

Dr. Zhana Vrangalova: A NYC-based sex researcher, writer, and educator with a PhD in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University, where she studied how different aspects of sexuality (especially casual sex/promiscuity and mostly heterosexuality) are linked to health and well-being. She is currently an adjunct professor at the NYU Psychology department where she teaches Human Sexuality.

 

Kenneth Play: An international sex hacking expert/educator, former top fitness professional, and private celebrity fitness and sex-ed coach. He co-founded the globally-recognized intentional sex-positive community, Hacienda Villa; he teamed up with Dr. Zhana Vrangalova to work on The Casual Sex Project; he’s been a featured presenter for the Sexual Health Expo (SHE) and New York University; and his projects have been featured in GQ, Vice, Elite Daily, Thrillist, Refinery 29, Playboy, and Cosmopolitan. His mission is to bring hands-on sex education accessible to a mainstream audience. 

 

Holli & Michael: This dynamic couple has starred on Playboy’s hit show “Swing”, they have a daily radio show on Playboy Radio and they own a club in Las Vegas called Sensual that caters to open couples. They speak about Consensual Non-Monogamous Relationships at conferences and conventions around the world and coined the word "LivingSexy" as well as the phrase: "a secure me creates a strong we."

 

All of the Grand Marshalls are available for interviews, along with Bob Hannaford, organizer of Naughty in N’awlins, the largest alternative lifestyle convention for couples in the world. With over 1,000 couples, this event is a full takeover of one of the French Quarter's biggest hotels. There are workshops, seminars, private Bourbon St Parties, industry entertainment and nightly erotic theme balls.

Join Center for Sex Positive Sexuality and NCSF in celebrating their Anniversaries!

on Tuesday, 06 June 2017. Posted in NCSF News

The Center for Sex Positive Sexuality is celebrating their 10th Anniversary along with NCSF's 20th Anniversary on July 15th! You don't have to attend to support both organizations.

40% of funds going to this party will be donated to NCSF. Remaining funds will go directly towards Center for Positive Sexuality's program funding (unless you choose otherwise).

This event will include dinner, open bar, and non-alcoholic beverages. Entertainment will be provided as well. Look forward to live performances by some of our very talented volunteers, an awards ceremony, raffle, and a roast of the Executive Director.

Evening casual dress preferred.

Los Angeles, CA: Event address will be provided upon purchase of tickets.

Participate in a survey about polyamorous relationships!

on Saturday, 15 April 2017. Posted in NCSF News

If you are in a polyamorous or other type of consensually non-monogamous, where all parties involved understand and agree that complete monogamy is not required, then you know how important it is that people understand what these relationships are and how they work.

 

My name is Ryan Witherspoon and I am a clinical psychology Ph.D. student at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University.  I am conducting a dissertation research project investigating these kinds of relationships.  Specifically, I’m looking at hidden sources of strength and resilience against challenges that polyamory and other types of consensual non-monogamy may feature. 

 

Are you a US resident, over 18, and currently in one or more polyamorous or consensually non-monogamous relationship(s)?  Do you want to help contribute to scientific understanding of these important lifestyles and practices?  Please click the link below to participate in this ground-breaking study!  

 

All responses are anonymous and completely confidential.  The survey will only take about 20 minutes to complete, but your contribution to expanding knowledge and tolerance of these modern relationships will be priceless! 

 

Access the brief survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CNMstudy

 

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns! 

 

Sincerely Yours,

Ryan G. Witherspoon, MA

Guest Blog: “Signs” of Trafficking to Make You Wonder

on Monday, 10 April 2017. Posted in NCSF News

by Desmond Ravenstone

Last weekend, I flew out of town to attend a conference where the annual meeting of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom was being held, having been invited to co-present on sex workers’ rights for the Coalition’s leaders. I took just a small backpack crammed with clothes, papers, and other items. The room was paid for by another NCSF activist, who was staying in a suite with their partner. As is my usual practice, I kept the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the entire time, as well as leaving the TV on, because I’m one of these folks who is more comfortable with an unmade bed than having others go through my things.

Believe it or not, I might have been tagged by a hotel employee as a possible sex trafficker.

“Huh!? What did you do wrong?” Well, according to a checklist provided to hotel employees by the Department of Homeland Security, I displayed at least three “general indicators” of human trafficking:

Few or no personal items when checking in.

The same person reserving multiple rooms.

“Do Not Disturb” sign used constantly.

Oh, and the fellow activist who paid for my hotel room? They hosted get-togethers in their suite throughout the weekend, inviting conference attendees to learn more about NCSF – another red flag: “Constant flow of men into a room at all hours.”

 

Now, to be fair, these are just four out of some four dozen indicators, some of which are clear warning signs of coercion or abuse. But the four I mentioned, and several more, are so vague or subjective that, when read out of context, could lead to invasions of privacy and false accusations.

 

Here are some others:

Individuals avoid eye contact and interaction with others – Whoever came up with this probably never knew that this is not uncommon for people on the autism spectrum, or who rank high on the introversion scale.

Individuals appear to be with a significantly older “boyfriend” or in the company of older males – How old is “significantly older”? Does this mean May-December relationships are now automatically suspect? What about a young woman accompanied by an older relative?

Evidence of pornography – Uh huh. Remember, we’re talking hotels here. Many of which have adult pay-per-view. Some have newsstands that sell Hustler and Penthouse. Or maybe the government has bought into the idea that nude photos in a magazine is some sort of “gateway drug” …

Extended stay with few or no personal possessions – Because airlines never lose people’s luggage. Right?

Provocative clothing and shoes – Excuse me, but has anyone noticed the trend in many high schools to declare virtually any female student’s attire short of a prairie dress as “provocative”?

Excessive amounts of sex paraphernalia in rooms (condoms, lubricant, lotion, etc.) – Okay, I’m sure some readers are wondering why I put this here. Set aside the vagueness of “excessive” for a moment. This particular “indicator” gives no mention of context. My recent trip was an example. The conference in question was for members of the BDSM community. So, yes, folks are going to bring all sorts of erotic accoutrements (and that’s not even touching on the various merchants and sex educators setting up booths there). And given that BDSM, swinger and polyamory conferences try to be discreet, just imagine a hotel worker not being informed of their presence and seeing a room filled with … get the picture?

Room paid for with cash or pre-loaded credit card – Because people with credit problems who are thus unable to get “real” credit cards never need to stay at a hotel, hm?

Minor taking on adult roles or behaving older than actual age (paying bills, requesting services) – Seems like a legit concern, right? Well, have you ever encountered a family where the parents are recent immigrants, and the kids have a higher proficiency in English? I have. The kids not only translate for their parents, they learn out of necessity how to deal with all sorts of situations, including how to handle money.

Room rented has fewer beds than patrons – Because college kids don’t trying to save money by cramming four people into a room with two beds. Or a family displaced by fire, or eviction. Yeah, those never happen.

Car in parking lot regularly parked backward, so the license plate is not visible – Yeah, absolutely no one has a car with a front license plate. And except for evil traffickers, everyone parks front first, right?

Patron claims to be an adult although appearance suggests he/she is a minor – Ask anyone who works at a bar if they’ve had to card an adult who looked younger than they are. Yup, it happens. Happened to me when I was thirty-five. And about half a dozen other people I know.

This is not to say that people who engage in trafficking and other nefarious activities don’t do these things. They do – and so do lots of other people. If a survey showed that a majority of traffickers spoke two or more languages, it doesn’t mean that being able to speak another language indicates that someone is a trafficker. It’s also typical of anti-trafficking rhetoric that these assumptions are rooted in biases about gender, race, class, and immigration status. Imagine a hotel employee, with superficial “trafficking awareness” training, reporting a guest – perhaps even you – on the basis of such hasty generalizations.

Human rights abuses should not be fought by the abuse of other rights. If we are to bring criminals to justice, or help victims find relief, then let’s make sure we are well-prepared to do it right, rather than run roughshod over innocent people.

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