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The Therapeutic Value of BDSM

And it's kinky connection to Drama Therapy
by

Rebecca Martinez

on 23 July 2015

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Transcript of The Therapeutic Value of BDSM

Can BDSM be therapeutic?
Theoretical Orientation
Reported benefits of BDSM
personal empowerment
self-awareness
spiritual connection
increased intimacy
physical release
therapeutic healing
conflict resolution
improved communication
exploring the taboo/shadow play
psychologically transformative
liberation from repression
community
Current Media and Societal Perspectives
stigma via pathologizing
custody, employment, legal issues
TV crime dramas, psychological thrillers
acceptance due to normalizing (vanilla-washing)
50 Shades of Grey/Secretary/Cosmo Magazine
Rubin's Charmed Circle of Sexual Relationships
Scope of Search
Search Terms:
kink*
BDSM
therapy
healing
developmental transformation
drama therapy
abuse
gender
sex
porn
queer
SSC/RACK/4 C's
SSC- safe, sane, consensual
The Therapeutic Value of BDSM
And it's kinky connection to Drama Therapy
Drama Therapy lens:
psychodynamic
humanistic
Transformative framework
anti-pathologizing
Personal Interest
Inspiration
Useful Definitions
sub/dom(me)/switch
pro dom(me)
top/bottom
mistress/master/slave
24/7
scene
dungeon
squicked
aftercare
vanilla
safeword
Bondage and Discipline/
Dominance and Submission/
Sadism and Masochism
Umbrella term
Typically referring to an exchange of power or intense sensation, not always, but usually in a sexual/sensual context
A sexual identity,
orientation, lifestyle, or activity
A sub-category of kink
Always consensual*
Historical Medical and Psychoanalytical View
Kraft-Ebing (1886/1965):
Coined the term 'sadomasochism'
both a 'perversion' and 'affliction'
Freud (1906/1953):
perversion= sexual pleasure through means other than, or extending beyond the limits of the "normal" activities that lead to orgasm through heterosexual coitus
Community definition
What does the DSM have to say?
DSM- IV:
BDSM and most kink falls under
paraphilias
Recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges or behaviors generally involving nonhuman objects, the suffering or humiliation of oneself or one's partner, or children or other nonconsenting persons that occur over a period of 6 months", which "cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
DSM- V:
Clear distinction between paraphilias vs paraphilic disorders

Paraphilic disorders- a paraphilia that is currently causing distress* or impairment to the individual or a paraphilia whose satisfaction has entailed personal harm, or risk of harm, to others

Paraphilias- doesn't automatically justify or require clinical intervention
Groups together consensual kink and non-consentual disorders
RACK- Risk aware consensual kink
4 C's- caring, communication, consent, caution
Why does this matter to you?
Did you say therapeutic?
Drama Therapy
A process of embodied encounters where healing can be achieved through dramatic reality.
Developmental Transformations: DvT
Limitations
~ identify as queer, kinky, feminist, sex nerd
~ dedicated to culturally humble mental health practices
~ aspirations of Human Sexuality doctorate
"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar"
Radical Feminist Perspective
Some believe that BDSM is inherently misogynistic and inescapably oppressive, even when involving lesbian women.
References

1. Barker, M. (2007). Turning the world upside down: Developing a tool for training about SM.
2. Barker, M., Iantaffi, A., & Gupta, C. (2007). Kinky clients, kinky counselling? the challenges and potentials of BDSM.
3. Connan, S. (2010). A kink in the process. Therapy Today.Net, 21(6)
4. Cowan, S. (2012). To buy or not to buy? vulnerability and the criminalisation of commercial BDSM. Feminist Legal Studies, 20(3), 263-279.
5. Cross, P. A., & Matheson, K. (2006). Understanding sadomasochism: An empirical examination of four perspectives. Journal of Homosexuality, 50(2-3), 133-166.
6. Dancer, P. L., Kleinplatz, P. J., & Moser, C. (2006). 24/7 SM slavery. Journal of Homosexuality, 50(2-3), 81-101.
7. Dintino, C., & Johnson, D. R. (1997). Playing with the perpetrator. Dramatherapy: Theory and Practice 3, 3, 205.
8. Hébert, A., & Weaver, A. (2015). Perks, problems, and the people who play: A qualitative exploration of dominant and submissive BDSM roles. The Canadian 9. Journal of Human Sexuality, 24(1), 49-62.
10. Hoff, G. (2006). Power and love: Sadomasochistic practices in long-term committed relationships. Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, 9, 23.
11. Hoff, G., & Sprott, R. A. (2009). Therapy experiences of clients with BDSM sexualities: Listening to a stigmatized sexuality. Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, 12(9), 30.
12. James, M., Forrester, A. M., & Kim, K. C. (2005). Developmental transformations in the treatment of sexually abused children. Clinical Applications of Drama Therapy in Child and Adolescent Treatment, , 67-86.
13. James, M., & Johnson, D. R. (1996). Drama therapy in the treatment of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 23(5), 383-395.
14. Johnson, D. R. (1982). Developmental approaches in drama therapy. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 9(3), 183-189.
15. Johnson, D. R. (2000). Developmental transformations: Towards the body as presence. Current Approaches in Drama Therapy, , 87-110.
16. Johnson, D. R., Forrester, A., Dintino, C., James, M., & Schnee, G. (1996). Towards a poor drama therapy. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 23(4), 293-306.
17. Jozifkova, E. (2013). Consensual sadomasochistic sex (BDSM): The roots, the risks, and the distinctions between BDSM and violence. Current Psychiatry Reports, 15(9), 1-8.
18. Kolmes, K., Stock, W., & Moser, C. (2006). Investigating bias in psychotherapy with BDSM clients. Journal of Homosexuality, 50(2-3), 301-324.
19. Landers, F. (2002). Dismantling violent forms of masculinity through developmental transformations. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 29(1), 19-29.
20. Lawrence, A. A., & Love-Crowell, J. (2007). Psychotherapists' experience with clients who engage in consensual sadomasochism: A qualitative study. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 34(1), 67-85.
21. Lindemann, D. (2011). BDSM as therapy? Sexualities, 14(2), 151-172.
22. Meeker, C. (2013). “Learning the ropes”: An exploration of BDSM stigma, identity disclosure, and workplace socialization.
23. Nichols, M. (2006). Psychotherapeutic issues with “kinky” clients: Clinical problems, yours and theirs. Journal of Homosexuality, 50(2-3), 281-300.
24. Nichols, M. (2013). Psychology & BDSM: Pathology or individual difference. Institute for Personal Growth.Available at: Http://www.Ipgcounseling.com/sites/ipgcounseling.com/files/content/pdf/3psychology_bdsm.Pdf,
25. Pendzik, S. (2006). On dramatic reality and its therapeutic function in drama therapy. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 33(4), 271-280.
26. Rivoli, L. R. (2015). Liberation through domination: BDSM culture and submissive-role women.
27. Weille, K. H. (2002). The psychodynamics of consensual sadomasochistic and dominant-submissive sexual games. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 3(2), 131-160.
28. Weiss, M. D. (2006). Mainstreaming kink: The politics of BDSM representation in US popular media. Journal of Homosexuality, 50(2-3), 103-132.
29. Weiss, M. D. (2006). Working at play: BDSM sexuality in the san francisco bay area. Anthropologica, , 229-245.
30. Williams, D., Thomas, J. N., Prior, E. E., & Christensen, M. C. (2014). From “SSC” and “RACK” to the “4Cs”: Introducing a new framework for negotiating BDSM participation. Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, 17
31. Wismeijer, A. A., & Assen, M. A. (2013). Psychological characteristics of BDSM practitioners. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10(8), 1943-1952.
*Not merely distress resulting from society’s disapproval
(American Psychiatric Association, 2000; 2013)
Kinky Connections
Outerlimits: debates on feminist, queer, gender, racial theory
What is BDSM?
2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23, 26, 28, 29, 31
A unique approach to Drama Therapy; an
improvisational, embodied encounter between the therapist and client(s)

Main Elements:
playspace
mutual agreement
discrepency
restraint against harm

Health model: No "fixing" or "cures", expanding what is tolerable (playable), increasing real life roles and emotional expression through repeat imaginal exposure
2, 3, 4, 22, 23, 26, 30
2, 3, 6, 17, 21, 23, 26
4, 5, 18, 21, 27, 31
straight
married
monogamous
private
non-commercial
procreative
vanilla
1, 2, 4, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 28
4, 5, 21, 22, 26
BDSMers are an under served and misunderstood population of sexual minorities
Increased popularity may lead to the likelihood of BDSMers in your office, possibly with BDSM newbies
Many BDSMers use disclosure to screen possible therapists
We need to know how to differentiate between kink and abuse
Current lack of training for mental health professionals, reports of "biased" and "inadequate care"
With a more culturally humble approach we can provide more effective interventions and accurate diagnosis
1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 11, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23
4, 6, 8, 10, 21, 23, 26, 29
4, 8, 10, 21, 26, 27, 29
processing and transforming traumas
dissidence from the dominate culture
support from community and partners
empathy through attunement
exploration of shadow play
personal growth
emotional expression
"Under the guise of play and pretend, we can - for once - act in new ways. The bit of distance from real life afforded by drama enables us to gain perspective on our real-life roles and patterns and actions, and to experiment actively with alternatives."

-- Renee Emunah, PhD, RDT/BCT
Director, Drama Therapy Program, CIIS
7, 15, 25
7, 12, 15, 25
playing with the unplayable
parodox of reality
negotiation of power dynamics
expansion of limits
dungeon = playspace
deroll = aftercare
"scene"
"play"
potential for harm
mutual consent
BDSM
Layers
of
Consent
DvT
Layers
of
Play
2, 12, 13, 15, 17, 21, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30
Findings
Recommendations for further research
small sample size
internet based recruitment
gender binarism
heteronormative (couple studies)
vast majority of study participants were white
(when race/ethnic background were reported)
5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 18, 20, 21, 26, 27, 31
5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 18, 20, 21, 26, 27, 31
Larger scale studies; bigger sample size and variety of locations
Explore: gender ID vs kink ID, Kinky POC's double marginalization, role of community, benefits of BDSM
Expansion of sample populations; queer, switches, POC, not coupled and non-monogomous, kink specific
Search Sources:
Google Scholar
ProQuest
Syllabus from previous coursework
93 SMers, 61 control: no link to mental illness, no evidence of Freud's sexual guilt in M's or ID-driven behavior in S's, no evidence of SMers being anti-feminist (5, 2006)
146 24/7 SM slaves: no indication of "battery", use of ritual (86%), pushing limits (74%), satisfaction (88%), only 3 had no access to bank account in their name (6, 2006)
9 Doms, 12 Subs: Personality traits both congruent and incongruent w/ roles; Mutual benefits: pleasure from other pleasure, personal enjoyment, personal growth, improved relationships, community, psychological release, freedom from day-to-day roles, authentic expression; Mutual challenges: stigma, relationship problems, self acceptance of desires (8, 2015)
4 hetero couples self-defined benefits: intimacy, personal growth, conflict resolution, tx healing, spirituality, community; Tx negative attitudes toward BDSM out number positive (10, 2006)
32 hetero couples: Risk for termination, ineffective Tx, lack of disclosure, lack of Tx's knowledge, avoidance of discussions on sex in general (11, 2009)
Out of 197 BDSM T clients: 74.9% came to Tx for nonBDSM related issues, 118 reports of biased or "inadequate care", 113 reports of culturally sensitive of aware care, crossover due to repair (18,2006)
14 Kink aware Tx, all white, cultural competence (humility) a must, no reports of abuse being more common than nonBDSM clients, 9 are BDSM practitioners (20, 2008)
66 female Pro-dommes reported Tx elements: alternative to sexual repression, repair of previous trauma, atonement rituals, psychological revitalization through shame (21, 2011)
10 female submissives: mainstream oppression and repression, fear of discrimination, BDSM & Feminism can be compatible (agency, choice); transformative, personal growth, community & saftey, communication (26, 2015)
Joan (one married, white, sub): repair of previous abuse through BDSM (repetition); can be healing if the relationship is 'loving, playful, symbolizing, paradoxical, "homeopathic"' (27, 2002)
902 BDSMers and 434 control: BDSMers were found to be less neurotic, more extroverted, more open to new experiences, more conscientious, less rejection sensitive, higher subjective well-being, yet less agreeable. Female BDSMers were more confident in their relationships, lower need for approval, les anxiously attached (31, 2013)
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