Psychotherapeutic issues with "kinky" clients: clinical problems, yours and theirs

J Homosex. 2006;50(2-3):281-300. doi: 10.1300/J082v50n02_14.


People whose sexual repertoire includes BDSM, fetish, or other "kinky" practices have become increasingly visible, on the Internet, in the real world, and in psychotherapists' offices. Unfortunately, the prevailing psychiatric view of BDSM remains a negative one: These sexual practices are usually considered paraphilias, i.e., de facto evidence of pathology. A different, affirming view of BDSM is taken in this paper. After defining BDSM and reviewing common misconceptions, a variety of issues the practitioner will face are described. These include problems of countertransference, of working with people with newly emerging sexual identities, working with spouses and partners, and discriminating between abuse and sexual "play."

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Domestic Violence / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Masochism / psychology*
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Sadism / psychology*
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / diagnosis