Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

Hello dear SW friends,

I have been asked to do a presentation to my college group about sex work. As we are all trainee/nearly/newly/qualified therapists, I want to provide them with not just some basic information on sex work but also the issues, discrimination and problems we face in addition to those that are not SW exclusive.

For instance, I always mention when I had my car insurance cancelled when they found out my job, or when I was told I couldn’t buy a certain pair of shoes because the designer didn’t like what I did for a living.

If you have any examples that you think would be useful or insightful or simply inspire discussion, and would be happy with me including it in my talk then I would be super grateful. I can keep you completely anonymous or you can give a name, it’s up to you.

I want to show vanilla people just what we have to put up with in our line of work and why it is important that we all start to see sex work as real work.

Similarly, I would also like to include some content on why people visit sex workers, what they get out of it, and how it affects their mental health (if it does!) So if this is something you would like to participate in as a service seeker, I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you in advance for your participation in my little project!

I haven’t written a blog in while; I certainly haven’t written a blog that isn’t advertising what I’m up to for even longer. However, I have noticed something that is worrying me somewhat and I have felt compelled to write about it here.

A little bit of background is needed first, so here goes. If you are reading this, chances are you are already aware that I am a Dominatrix. You either know me, or know of me, and know that this is what I do. I have been doing this for six years, and have been in the adult industry for eight years. I began in the mainstream porn industry and once I discovered more about myself, my capabilities and areas of interest I changed direction and moved into the Femdom/Fetish world. With me so far? Good.

I am also a BSc Psychology and Criminology graduate. Not so many people know this, but again, it’s no secret and some of you may be aware of this.

What fewer people know, is that for the last four years I’ve been training as a therapist/counsellor. There is some disagreement over the use of these words, but for the purposes of this blog I shall be using them interchangeably, as my (unbelievably amazing, accomplished and brilliant) tutor does! I finish my training this year and am officially qualified upon completion of my client hours, but for all intents and purposes, I am proud to call myself a therapist. I have been training in Gestalt therapy and holistic approaches to therapy.

Now, the reason I mention this is because I have noticed recently that some Dommes are calling themselves therapists/counsellors. And this concerns me. A lot.

Don’t get me wrong – I fully support the notion that seeing a Dominatrix (or indeed any type of sex worker) can be an incredibly “therapeutic” or “healing” experience for many; I attended last year’s Pink Therapy conference on the intersection of therapeutic practice and sex work. It blew my mind. I have also noticed that I now use a lot of the skills I’ve learned in my therapy training in my sessions with subs – techniques used to hold space, to read between the lines, body work – noticing where in the body certain emotions or responses manifest themselves – ways of questioning that allow more than superficial, surface level responses and so on – and I feel that these skills have dramatically improved my sessions. You’d have to ask my visitors whether they agree, but for me, it has been a huge improvement and allowed me to go deeper with subs in my sessions.

Also, I am fully aware that there are indeed Dommes and other sex workers out there who ARE qualified in various forms of counselling, therapy, psychology, psychiatry and other holistic well-being approaches – I am not referring to them in this blog post.

The thing that I am worried about is that these people I’ve seen advertising themselves as therapists, offering holistic experiences and so on – who are NOT trained or qualified therapists. And I will endeavour to explain why that is and why it is dangerous.

When a client walks into a therapy room, there is no power imbalance. We meet the client on their level, and at their pace, and walk alongside them as we support them through their self-discovery. When a sub walks into a dungeon, there is a power imbalance – that’s the point, that’s why they come, because they want there to be a disparity in power. They want to submit, to be controlled, to hand over responsibility to their Domme for the duration of their time together. This is NOT how therapy works. It can be very damaging if an untrained individual were to touch upon something deep and painful within their sub; it can open up old traumas and force the person to revisit very painful memories or experiences and if these are not held in a safe, sane and consensual (SSC) way, the results can be incredibly damaging. Therapists are not experts in their clients’ lives; the client is offered the space and the opportunity to discuss their issues, in a non-judgemental place, where they are in charge of the time they have with their counsellor. When a sub comes to see a Domme, the reverse is very much true. The Domme has granted them time with her/them, the Domme dictates the speed and activities that take place (within parameters that have been discussed prior, in my case anyway) and the Domme is clearly the one in charge.

Now as I mentioned previously, I have noticed more and more how certain aspects of BOTH my chosen career paths can intersect and be beneficial to all involved. HOWEVER. This is because I have undergone the correct training, receive the correct academic, emotional and psychological support, and to put it bluntly, know what the fuck I am doing. To see others, tossing around the notion that they too are therapists or counsellors WHEN THEY ARE NOT, worries me. One lady I saw had her entire website plastered with “I’m a therapist, I can help you with addiction, I will train you to overcome your psychological issues” which, when I looked closer at the text, was her using the word “therapy” as a synonym for “Femdom”.

Now what’s to stop someone from coming across this website, or others like it, and believing that this lady is in fact a genuine therapist? Say a guy turns up, expecting therapy (this might seem a bit of a reach, but let’s assume that this guy is genuinely in need of therapy, and, like a lot of guys on the internet, hasn’t read the website properly) and goes into some very deep, disturbing stuff, because he is under the impression that she is a therapist and will know what to do?! She could cause him a lot of damage because she does not know what she is doing. Similarly it could be very damaging for her, too. Opening people up to extreme psychological trauma in a first meeting? Absolute no-no for properly trained counsellors. Counselling is long term, takes time, and is built on trust, respect and confidentiality. It is not someone calling themselves a therapist because they think it makes them sound more appealing, or to circumvent payment regulations, or an attempt to dress up their sex work as something it isn’t – it is deceitful and damaging. I also personally find it a huge insult to the therapeutic profession – it takes YEARS to train successfully as a competent therapist. It is HARD. It can be PAINFUL. And it’s an absolute pisstake, when I have done all this work, training and soul-searching, to see untrained, uninformed people slapping that title on themselves for reasons that I can only assume are either ignorant or nefarious.

I do understand that role-play is a big part of sessions for a lot of subs; and I’m not saying that role-playing as a therapist or counsellor in session is wrong. Its not, it’s quite fun, I’ve done it myself prior to undertaking my professional training. But to actually have the audacity to market oneself as a therapist, whether through ignorance or lack of awareness, or to fraudulently obtain money by deception, is incredibly risky.

If you are thinking of visiting a Domme, or a therapist – DO YOUR RESEARCH. The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but not all Dommes are therapists and not all therapists are Dommes. If you come across a Domme who says they are a therapist – ask where they trained or which professional body they are registered with. You can do this without requiring them to disclose any personal information (I understand and appreciate that not everyone will outwardly advertise the two jobs alongside one another, some prefer to keep these two aspects of their lives very separate) and you can then make an informed decision about whether or not you go to see them.

I would also like to point out that seeing a Domme, or any sex worker for that matter, IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR SEEING A PROFESSIONAL THERAPIST. For the reasons I’ve covered in this blog post, plus many more. There are certainly therapeutic aspects to BDSM and sex work but unless it is undertaken BY A QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL you leave yourself open to psychological harm that can be far reaching and long lasting. If you feel that you need actual therapy, you can find someone to suit your needs on sites like Counselling Directory. You can search for therapists who are knowledgeable or specialised in Kink/Fetish/BDSM/whatever you are looking for. Don’t be fooled by your favourite sex-worker calling themselves a therapist – from what I’ve seen, chances are they are not. Our mental health is so important – would you really entrust it to someone who had not undertaken any formal training? You wouldn’t visit a personal trainer who hadn’t done any fitness training, or a mechanic who couldn’t drive, so why would you visit someone for counselling when they’ve had no therapeutic training?

If BDSM practitioners wish to undertake therapeutic training in order to enhance their sessions, that’s great! For what it’s worth, I think that BDSM play has some incredibly healing aspects to it and that shouldn’t be ignored in the wider therapeutic and mental health community. However. If somebody bought all the kit and equipment to do nails, for example, would that make them a nail technician? No – because they’ve had no formal training to do so. They are just a person with all the gear and no idea. The same is true for BDSM practitioners – just because you say that you are a therapist, doesn’t mean that you actually are. Do the training, learn what that actually means to be a therapist, THEN use the title – trust me, it’s not for the faint-hearted and that title is damn well EARNED. Not just picked up and bandied about on a whim.

And with that, I am happy to openly say that I am both a therapist AND a Dominatrix. I am extremely fortunate that I have the support, training and opportunity to be able to do two jobs that I love, alongside each other. My skills and knowledge in one support the other, and vice versa. Following the completion of my client hours, I will be undertaking further training to specialise in Sexwork/Kink/Fetish/BDSM and aiming to do the majority of my work with this client group.

Remember: just because someone SAYS they’re a therapist, doesn’t mean its true. ALWAYS DO YOUR RESEARCH.

The BACP Ethical Guidelines can be found here
The NCS Ethical Guidelines can be found here