Assessment of therapists’ attitudes towards BDSM

Assessment of therapists’ attitudes towards BDSM

Published in 2012, the paper surveyed 766 therapists from the American Psychological Association’s Practice Directorate website to assess therapists’ attitudes towards the BDSM. Most people consider the APA to be a mainstream organization.

While BDSM participants are wary of their interactions with mental health professionals, the data are more encouraging. According to the paper, “The majority of those surveyed did not agree with statements equating BDSM with pathology. Sixty-seven per cent agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: ‘BDSM can be part of a healthy, long-term relationship.’ Similarly, 70% disagreed or strongly disagreed that interest in BDSM should be eliminated by therapy.”

Seventy-six per cent of therapists reported having treated at least one BDSM client but only 48% perceived themselves to be competent to treat BDSM clients. Not surprising since 64% reported receiving no training in BDSM during their graduate education. Thankfully, 52% sought additional training after graduation. Those with even some training had more accepting attitudes than those without any training. Older and more conservative therapists had more negative attitudes towards BDSM, as well.

The good news is that most are willing to learn and this is where CARAS has an important role. Currently, our conference is the only one specifically focused on alternative sexualities. It also provides American Psychological Association approved continuing education for therapists. Usually, 2/3 of our conference attendees are from outside the community. We fill a significant unmet need and we are helping mainstream appropriate therapy for people from alternative sexuality communities including BDSM.

Often, it seems that the community views therapists as potential adversaries. As this paper points out, we’ve largely won the BDSM versus pathology battle. What we need to concentrate on now, is better professional education for a largely willing and interested therapeutic community.

This was posted in the CARAS Fetlife group by entropy