BDSM (bondage and discipline, domination and submission and sadomasochism) is perhaps the most demonized form of consensual sexuality, still criminalized in the UK and pathologised as a ‘paraphilia’ in the DSM. Much training material for therapists and counsellors still perpetuates negative myths about BDSM practices despite lack of evidence for any link between such practices and psychological problems.

This workshop encourages participants to reflect on their own belief systems around BDSM. It examines the variety of ‘kinky’ practices, drawing on existential approaches to consider the multiple meanings these may have for clients. Common myths around BDSM are challenged and the most up-to-date research on BDSM presented. Attendees consider various case-studies to think about how they might work with kinky/BDSM clients, including those whose identity/practice is unrelated to their presenting problem, those who are concerned about their identity/practice, and those who regard their identity/practice as linked to the therapeutic experience. Relationships between BDSM and self-harming practices will also be explored.