The Psychological Impact of Suppressing Kink Identity

Presenter/Instructor: Elyssa Helfer, MA, LMFT

2 CEs Available; 2 hours

Abstract: The world of kink exists right under our noses. From dungeons to munches, kinky folks are finding ways to express their identities within a system that encourages secrecy. To fully affirm our clients, it is imperative that we understand who they are, what they enjoy and how their desires play out in their lives. Due to the shame and stigmatization often associated with Kink identity and practice it is imperative that we, as clinicians, have the ability to work with issues related to kink, creating an open space, free from judgement and backed by knowledge.  In times of isolation or separation from partners, whether by choice (long distance relationship) or by circumstance (isolation due to pandemic), the suppression or limitation of both identity and practice can result in negative psychological consequences. In order to understand the negative consequences, we must understand the ways in which healthy expression of erotic orientation can present itself in our clients, why clients may be suppressing their identity, how therapists can contribute to this suppression, and how these issues may present in the therapy room. 

This course will cover the positive consequences that can result from expression of kink identity/practice, the negative consequences of suppression or limitation of said identity, reasons one may feel compelled to suppress or limit their desires and ways this may present in our clinical work. In addition, we will address strategies that can be implemented in therapy to assist clients in managing the negative consequences. 

Learning Objectives

After participants complete this course, they should be able to:

  1. Articulate 3 major sources that may result in limitation or suppression of kink identity/practice
  2. Compare positive and negative consequences from limitation or suppression of kink identity/practice
  3. Utilize 4 strategies to address the negative consequences with clients

Elyssa Helfer, MA, LMFT is a sex-positive Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist currently working in private practice in Los Angeles, CA. She specializes in working with the kink population and folks in alternative relationship structures. Her mission is to create spaces for people where they can feel loved and appreciated, without judgment or pressure to be anything but their true selves.  


Licensed therapists who work in nonprofits price is $20 (Use coupon code: KinkNP at checkout)

Student/pre-licensed price is $10 (Use coupon code: KinkPL at checkout)

You can also get access to this course and all other courses – current and future – with the Lifetime Membership for a one-time fee.

APA ApprovedThe Affirmative Couch, LLC is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Affirmative Couch, LLC maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

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