For those of you loyal readers who have been following Me for a while, you will remember that I have previously written on the therapeutic value of BDSM. It can be, in many ways, an incredibly healing and valuable experience. However I have and will always maintain that there should be a clear distinction between BDSM as a therapeutic experience and actual therapy. Today's blog is going to delve deep into the reasons why I believe such a distinction is so important.
Dominatrix, Domme and Sub: BDSM is Catharsis, Not Counselling
The emotional and physical catharsis gained from kink is undeniable. Having orgasms, relinquishing your sense of control, being beaten… these are all things which release numerous chemicals in the brain, flooding you with feel good chemicals which can make people feel fantastic. BDSM can be incredibly cathartic as a practice, and can give people both the physical and emotional space to engage in difficult topics or feelings, but it is not the same as undergoing genuine mental health treatment.
For people suffering from mental health problems, especially those stemming from trauma, medical and psychological treatment is vital. Can reframing a traumatic event under the guise of an experienced Dominatrix feel cathartic? Absolutely. Is it a substitute for actually unpacking trauma with a licensed psychotherapist? Absolutely not.
BDSM in Manchester - Tameside Playspace - Kink As A Form Of Self Care
There are many activities that can provide a general sense of wellbeing and calm when undertaken regularly, such as daily exercise, meditation, and yoga, and it is important to carve out time in your life to dedicate solely to pleasure and self care. But most people would rightly scoff at the suggestion that someone dealing with mental health issues should simply go for a run, or do some asanas. Leigh Cowart in Hurts So Good, her book chronicling the human practice of engaging with pain on purpose, considers BDSM as a tool to be exercised for personal growth. And, as kink is such an exhilarating experience, it is much closer to the earlier forms of self care I mentioned above than it is to actual therapy. There is nothing wrong with taking a holistic approach to your own well being, in fact I encourage it! But the very first and most important piece of that puzzle should always be with a professional therapist.
The entire ethos of risk aware consensual kink is that you must think carefully about what types of risks are involved in any activity. There is always risk involved in BDSM, whether physical, emotional, or mental. To treat kink as therapy when you are not a trained therapist means you are choosing treatment for yourself without understanding what impacts it may have on you.
Sub Domination, Masculinity, and the Freedom To Seek Treatment
The wider social stigma around mental health and seeking treatment is lessening thanks to many people speaking out about it so openly and honestly, however that does not negate the fact that people are still generally not socialised to be very open about their mental health. Men in particular are given the message that they should just get on with it, and forego expressing or even feeling their feelings freely. Men are told to ‘man up’ and ‘deal with it’ – a toxic form of masculinity which will often deter them from seeking professional help.
On the flip side to that however, men are massively encouraged to be ‘sexually successful’. To see exploration of sex as a key component of being ‘A Real Man’. Is the coupling of these two messages why so many men instead seek support from professional sex workers than licensed psychotherapists? The message that men can and/or should replace genuine treatment and support from mental health professionals by engaging in BDSM further drives home the idea that they should ignore their emotions and instead focus on their sexual identity. This is incredibly harmful and disrespectful to men as fully formed emotional beings, and trust me when I say it is not a healthy approach to your own mental health, sexuality or relationships.
Manchester Playspace for BDSM: Your Play Is Not Your Therapy from your Domme
For those who play within their intimate relationships, including the ones you pay for, it is imperative to remember that your play partner is not your therapist. If you feel that the kink you engage in helps your well being and brings you a sense of calm, that’s awesome. But, as mentioned above, people without specific mental health training are unequivocally not qualified to prescribe a form of treatment to either themselves or anyone else.
Requiring that your intimate partner be responsible for your mental health via the play you share is not only an unfair burden, but a very unhealthy dynamic for the both of you. By assuming that their participation in your play will mitigate or even resolve your struggles, you are setting them an impossible task, and trust me when I say it will eventually put a huge strain on them and on your relationship.
Your Manchester Mistress Dom/me Is Not Your Therapist
Continuing on from that, BDSM professionals are not therapists (and any one who acts like they are should look like a giant, waving red flag to you). It is perfectly normal to feel very close to the Professional Dom/me you are serving, regardless of whether that’s through long term servitude or within the confines of a single session. It’s also perfectly normal to want to share yourself with them. Opening up emotionally can feel very natural when you have not only shared but also indulged in your sexy secrets together.
However it is also important to remember that a Professional Dom/me is there to provide a specific BDSM experience, and not to act as a surrogate therapist. To ignore this and not respect the boundaries of a BDSM session is unhealthy and toxic for all involved, and has the potential to harm or trigger both of you. I would caution any submissive to be very wary of any Dom/me who advertises their sessions as therapy, unless they can provide specific evidence of credentials. Even then, therapists maintain very clear boundaries between themselves and their clients for the wellbeing of both parties. For a Dom/me to claim their sessions are literally therapy, or an appropriate substitute for it, is to my mind highly unethical.
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In Summary, you cannot work through or process mental health struggles or trauma only through engaging in BDSM practices. They can certainly help reframe certain contexts or scenarios as positive by providing people with the chance to form new pathways. They can help people to feel a greater sense of embodiment or autonomy. They can enable people to develop emotional and mental resilience and flexibility. They can also bring a much needed release from the pressures of life.
However, deciding that you will forego the support and treatment of a doctor or licensed therapist, who has spent years in training to help you, in order to opt for BDSM sessions, is irresponsible. I say this as someone with a degree in psychology (and who once upon a time wanted to become a therapist, before I discovered whips and chains), and as a Dominatrix with over a decade of professional play under my belt. I, like most Dom/mes, am not qualified to help you unpack trauma.
BDSM is a wonderful experience and practice, but when considering approaches to treating mental health your favourite professional BDSM practitioner should be at the very bottom of the list of professionals to seek help from - after properly licensed and accredited mental health professionals, therapists, counsellors, and doctors.
Until next time,
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