1st Edition

Kink-Affirming Practice Culturally Competent Therapy from the Leather Chair

By Stefani Goerlich Copyright 2023
    274 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    274 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Kink-Affirming Practice is an essential guide on how clinicians can ethically and effectively integrate elements of their client’s BSDM identities and practices into their treatment planning, creative interventions, and client self-care.

    Embracing both an anthropological understanding of this diverse yet still marginalized community, as well as a sex-positive approach to mental health, Stefani Goerlich recognizes the ways in which specific power exchange dynamics can evoke positive behavioral changes in clients, and guides the reader in how to integrate these concepts into their clinical work. Chapters discuss the foundations of BDSM, what is meant by kink-affirming practice, the purpose of claiming power and ceding control, integrating and reclaiming identities, dominant/submissive personas, and the benefits of caregiving kink, such as pet play. It practically discusses how to conduct a kink-affirming risk assessment, as well as exploring topics like ethical and health boundary setting, how to gain informed consent, and the unique issues that arise when clinicians catch themselves romancing the kink.

    This book is invaluable reading for professionals working with clients who engage in BDSM activities, such as marriage and family therapists, sex therapists, clinical social workers, and counselors. It may also be useful reading for students on both undergraduate and graduate level human sexuality and sexuality courses.

    Introduction 1.BDSM Foundations 2.The Kink-Affirming Practitioner 3.Identity, Fetishization, and Reclamation 4.Claiming Power 5.Ceding Control 6.Desiring Dominance 7.Caregiving Kink 8.Rules, Rituals, and Routines 9.Structures and Supports Conclusion Dedication Appendix Bibliography


    Stefani Goerlich is a certified sex therapist who is internationally recognized for her expertise on topics such as gender, sexuality, and relationship diversity. Her work has been showcased on the BBC, and in The New Yorker, Teen Vogue, and Cosmopolitan, and she was named one of Healthline’s best Couples Counseling providers of 2020. Her book, The Leather Couch: Clinical Practice with Kinky Clients (Routledge, 2021) was the winner of the AASECT Book Award 2021 and SSTAR Professional Book Award 2021.

    "AASECT award winning author, Stefani Goerlich leads us into another conversation with her masterful analysis of the world of kink and offers real world depictions of members who are a part of these communities.  The book gracefully weaves kink history, experiential narratives, reflections, and tools for us to become more kink aware and empowered.  This exegesis is a must have for all sexuality professionals and the constituents they serve."

    James C. Wadley, Ph.D., CSTS, Director of the Sex Therapy Program for Council for Relationships (Philadelphia, USA) Series Editor of Leading Conversations about Black Sexualities and Identities

    "Far too many mental health therapists know far too little about the complex diversity of kink. If you're a therapist treating kinky people (you probably are, and just don't know it) you need to read this book. Goerlich offers nuanced, sophisticated, thoughtful and deeply grounded clinical wisdom to help you help your kinky patients in affirming, non-shaming, positive and healthy ways." 

    David J. Ley PhD. Author of The Myth of Sex Addiction

    "Stefani Goerlich has done it again! Building on the tremendous resource that "The Leather Couch" has been for clinicians, Goerlich here writes a book that is both BDSM introduction and kink clinical competence guide. This book has insights and discussions that are worthwhile for a diverse array of clinicians working with kink communities."

    Steve Ratcliff, MA, LPCC, LPC, NCC, CST, Private practice therapist & board member, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom board member

    "As a sex educator whose work centers around Kink /BDSM and ethical nonmonogamy, it has become evident that the world needs more mental health providers who are not just open to understanding lifestyles outside what is currently considered the norm and the people who inhabit them but genuinely understand the world of Kink /BDSM more expansively. Stefani Goerlich enthusiastically acknowledges that Kink has always been treacherous terrain to navigate for those who practice it and the mental health care providers who serve them. The Leather Couch: Clinical Practice with Kinky Clients was the beginning of a bridge over that terrain and Kink-Affirming Practice: Culturally Competent Therapy from The Leather Chair continues to build on that bridge in an open, honest, and accessible way." 

    Dirty Lola, Sex Educator