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Kink Clinical Practice Guidelines 

about this project 

Colleagues, Friends, and Co-Workers,


For many years, therapists and  counselors who work closely  with the BDSM/kink communities—on the front lines of helping  people who are kink-identified or practicing BDSM—have  often struggled to serve  in relative isolation. Over the years, they have  honed their clinical judgments and  approaches, figuring out what works and what is harmful when  working with kink-involved clients.  There have been a few important publications of these insights, and calls for further work in this area, coming from a  various corners of the mental health field.


However, the past few years have  seen significant  changes in the culture  of Western English-speaking countries and  in the field of mental  health. There are more  and  more  people finding their way into kink and  BDSM.  There may be a decline in the power  of the stigma attached to these sexualities. There is also more  demand and  more  opportunities for specialized training in working with kink/BDSM involved clients  and  patients in the field of mental health.  


As these changes unfold, though, there  are new challenges, and  new opportunities. One challenge is being  able to assess whether or not a counselor or therapist has  the knowledge, skills and  attitude that  embody competent care  for kink-identified clients.   One opportunity is that  we have  enough critical mass and  momentum, in terms of clinical experience and  in terms of research, to start to articulate what competent care might include.


This project—which we are calling the Kink Practice Guidelines Project for now–has  the goal of producing clinical practice guidelines for mental  healthcare providers, when  working with kink/ BDSM involved patients and  clients.  We want these guidelines to reflect the best clinical judgment and experience, and the most up-to-date empirical research, that we can gather.   


By creating these guidelines, we hope to move the entire field of mental  health  further towards providing competent care to these people we care so much about.


Practice guidelines are aspirational.  They are meant to articulate goals  and  standards that professionals can  strive for, to guide  their own professional development and  to increase the quality of services they offer.   


We are conscious of the struggles around language, culture  and  diversity.   We want it to be clear that  any practice guidelines we create are going to be limited by our particular cultural positions, and  will miss  some important issues and  not apply easily, or sometimes at all, to some portions of the kink / BDSM communities or populations around the planet.


Still, we feel this is a good  time to start  that  journey,  to make  space for those larger conversations, by first putting  together and  articulating to the best of our abilities a statement about compassionate, caring  and  competent therapy for kink-identified or BDSM-practicing people.


Welcome to the project.

Richard Sprott, PhD

Kink Clinical Practice Guidelines Lead 

clinical best practice development for kink individuals
Our Guidelines Team 

Richard Sprott, PhD

The Community Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities (CARAS)

Anna Randall, LCSW, DHS

The Alternative Sexualities Health Research Alliance (TASHRA)

Braden Berkey, PsyD

 Programs Advancing Sexual Diversity (PASD)

Caroline Shahbaz, BBSc, MPsych

 Kink Knowledgeable

Charles Moser, PhD, MD

Diverse Sexualities Research and Education Institute (DSREI)

Laura A. Jacobs, LCSW-R

 Private Practice Psychotherapist, New York City

Margaret Nichols, PhD

Institute for Personal Growth (IPG)

Peggy Kleinplatz, PhD

Optimal Sexual Experience Research Team, University of Ottawa

Peter Chirinos, LPC, NCC

Kink Knowledgeable

Ruby Johnson, LCSW

Private Practice Psychotherapist, Dallas

Susan Wright, MA

 National Coalition for Sexual Freedom

Emily Prior, MA

Center for Positive Sexuality

DJ Williams, PhD

Center for Positive Sexuality

Carrie Jameson, LCPC

 Private Practice Psychotherapist, Chicago

Patrick Grant, MPH

La Salle University, Philadelphia

Aida Manduley, LCSW

The Meeting Point, Boston

Russell Stambaugh, PhD, DST

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom

Shadeen Francis, LMFT

Audriannah Levine-Ward, PsyD

Bayside Marin, San Rafael

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