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A Therapist’s Guide to Exploring a New Kink

Nick Fager, Co-Founder

Our sexuality is limitless, like any other creative expression of self. Sometimes as we explore and get more embodied in our sexuality, we discover a new interest or kink. This is not to say that it is actually new within our psyche, but that it is emerging and becoming conscious in a new way. Maybe we’ve known about it on some level for a long time, but we are only just now gaining the confidence to engage with it. The uncovering of a new kink can be an exciting experience, and it can also be an anxiety provoking experience, given that kinks typically transgress against societal norms. If you are not in a kink-positive relationship or in kink affirming spaces very often, you might feel shame and ask questions like “what does this mean about me?”

So the first thing to remember is that kink, shame, and fear live very close to each other in the psyche, and part of what makes the kink interesting or exciting is that it does transgress into the realm of the taboo. Kink is a way to play with fear and shame, or to enact the things we fear the most or feel the most ashamed of - such as humiliation, loss of control, or our own aggression. When we are able to access those emotions in a play space where we feel trust with the other people involved and our boundaries are respected, we can gain a sense of control or mastery of what might otherwise feel overwhelming. In this way, healthy kink can be not only fun and exciting but cathartic and empowering. 

Becoming conscious of a new kink is actually a good sign when it comes to your mental health. It means that you are expanding yourself and becoming embodied in your sexuality to the extent that new parts of you feel safe to emerge. Instead of repressing, invite this new interest in like a new friend - be curious about it and get to know it. 

A Note on Origins

Often in therapy, clients want to get to the root of their kink and figure out where it came from. Sometimes there is a specific memory that a kink can tie back to (particularly with fetishes), and other times the kink is more symbolic, perhaps of our relationship with power and control. While exploration can be a healthy thing, you want to examine your intent. What is the purpose of the digging? Sometimes the exploration is shame-based, or motivated by the desire to fix or change the desire. Therapists who are not kink affirming can often collude on this shame-based exploration and this can easily lead to further repression and dissociation of your kink.

If you find yourself drawn to exploring the origin of your kink, do so with curiosity and compassion, and with a kink affirming therapist at your side. And if you land on an experience early in life where eroticism latched onto a certain thing or person, treat it like any other experience in therapy - undo your aloneness by sharing it with your therapist, then unpack the associated emotions so there is less pressure around it. 

Keep in mind, our sexual interests are usually fairly hard wired and this exploration is unlikely to change your desire in a significant way, but it may help with coming to terms with it and giving yourself permission to play with it.

Our sexuality is limitless, like any other creative expression of self. Sometimes as we explore and get more embodied in our sexuality, we discover a new interest or kink. This is not to say that it is actually new within our psyche, but that it is emerging and becoming conscious in a new way. Maybe we’ve known about it on some level for a long time, but we are only just now gaining the confidence to engage with it. The uncovering of a new kink can be an exciting experience, and it can also be an anxiety provoking experience, given that kinks typically transgress against societal norms. If you are not in a kink-positive relationship or in kink affirming spaces very often, you might feel shame and ask questions like “what does this mean about me?”

So the first thing to remember is that kink, shame, and fear live very close to each other in the psyche, and part of what makes the kink interesting or exciting is that it does transgress into the realm of the taboo. Kink is a way to play with fear and shame, or to enact the things we fear the most or feel the most ashamed of - such as humiliation, loss of control, or our own aggression. When we are able to access those emotions in a play space where we feel trust with the other people involved and our boundaries are respected, we can gain a sense of control or mastery of what might otherwise feel overwhelming. In this way, healthy kink can be not only fun and exciting but cathartic and empowering. 

Becoming conscious of a new kink is actually a good sign when it comes to your mental health. It means that you are expanding yourself and becoming embodied in your sexuality to the extent that new parts of you feel safe to emerge. Instead of repressing, invite this new interest in like a new friend - be curious about it and get to know it. 

A Note on Origins

Often in therapy, clients want to get to the root of their kink and figure out where it came from. Sometimes there is a specific memory that a kink can tie back to (particularly with fetishes), and other times the kink is more symbolic, perhaps of our relationship with power and control. While exploration can be a healthy thing, you want to examine your intent. What is the purpose of the digging? Sometimes the exploration is shame-based, or motivated by the desire to fix or change the desire. Therapists who are not kink affirming can often collude on this shame-based exploration and this can easily lead to further repression and dissociation of your kink.

If you find yourself drawn to exploring the origin of your kink, do so with curiosity and compassion, and with a kink affirming therapist at your side. And if you land on an experience early in life where eroticism latched onto a certain thing or person, treat it like any other experience in therapy - undo your aloneness by sharing it with your therapist, then unpack the associated emotions so there is less pressure around it. 

Keep in mind, our sexual interests are usually fairly hard wired and this exploration is unlikely to change your desire in a significant way, but it may help with coming to terms with it and giving yourself permission to play with it.

Our sexuality is limitless, like any other creative expression of self. Sometimes as we explore and get more embodied in our sexuality, we discover a new interest or kink. This is not to say that it is actually new within our psyche, but that it is emerging and becoming conscious in a new way. Maybe we’ve known about it on some level for a long time, but we are only just now gaining the confidence to engage with it. The uncovering of a new kink can be an exciting experience, and it can also be an anxiety provoking experience, given that kinks typically transgress against societal norms. If you are not in a kink-positive relationship or in kink affirming spaces very often, you might feel shame and ask questions like “what does this mean about me?”

So the first thing to remember is that kink, shame, and fear live very close to each other in the psyche, and part of what makes the kink interesting or exciting is that it does transgress into the realm of the taboo. Kink is a way to play with fear and shame, or to enact the things we fear the most or feel the most ashamed of - such as humiliation, loss of control, or our own aggression. When we are able to access those emotions in a play space where we feel trust with the other people involved and our boundaries are respected, we can gain a sense of control or mastery of what might otherwise feel overwhelming. In this way, healthy kink can be not only fun and exciting but cathartic and empowering. 

Becoming conscious of a new kink is actually a good sign when it comes to your mental health. It means that you are expanding yourself and becoming embodied in your sexuality to the extent that new parts of you feel safe to emerge. Instead of repressing, invite this new interest in like a new friend - be curious about it and get to know it. 

A Note on Origins

Often in therapy, clients want to get to the root of their kink and figure out where it came from. Sometimes there is a specific memory that a kink can tie back to (particularly with fetishes), and other times the kink is more symbolic, perhaps of our relationship with power and control. While exploration can be a healthy thing, you want to examine your intent. What is the purpose of the digging? Sometimes the exploration is shame-based, or motivated by the desire to fix or change the desire. Therapists who are not kink affirming can often collude on this shame-based exploration and this can easily lead to further repression and dissociation of your kink.

If you find yourself drawn to exploring the origin of your kink, do so with curiosity and compassion, and with a kink affirming therapist at your side. And if you land on an experience early in life where eroticism latched onto a certain thing or person, treat it like any other experience in therapy - undo your aloneness by sharing it with your therapist, then unpack the associated emotions so there is less pressure around it. 

Keep in mind, our sexual interests are usually fairly hard wired and this exploration is unlikely to change your desire in a significant way, but it may help with coming to terms with it and giving yourself permission to play with it.

Agreements with Self

Before you set up a scene with someone else, you want to set up some agreements with yourself. What boundaries are important to put in place around this kink? What feels exciting, and what feels like too much? What type of person do you want to engage in this kink with, and is there any flexibility there?  What outcomes do you want to avoid, and what protections can you put in place in order to avoid those outcomes? What is the ideal situation? This internal conversation, which can be aided by a kink-affirming therapist, is a pivotal first step in establishing trust with yourself on this journey. 

Think of this process as setting up the field or ring for you to play in. Once it feels like the borders are drawn, you can start to invite others in. This is not to say that you have to have it all figured out beforehand, you’ll learn a lot as you go and borders often change and expand, but having an initial sense within yourself of what works and what is out of bounds creates a sense of security that promotes healthy exploration. 

Navigating with Partners 

Once you feel comfortable with your agreements with yourself, then you can start to move toward setting up a scene with a sexual partner. Setting up kink scenes is a great opportunity to work on your communication skills with partners. 

If you’re in a monogamous relationship, this might mean talking to your partner about your desire and setting up a scene between the two of you to play it out. This is not easy and takes courage! If you’re single or in a non-monogamous relationship, this might mean seeking someone out who is interested in the same kink, and ideally someone who has more experience than you but is still open to beginners. Kink based apps are a great place to start, and most major cities have Munches on a regular basis, or non-sexual social events for kinksters.

Whether you’re exploring with a long term partner or someone off an app, you want to make sure you have a conversation beforehand about what you’re each wanting and what boundaries or limits are important to maintain. Your partner might want clarification on your boundaries, just like you might want clarification on theirs, but if you notice that your boundaries are pushed back against or challenged in any way, then this is not the right person to get started with. 

You also want to talk about aftercare. Given that kink is often physically and emotionally intense, discussing aftercare means coming up with a plan for recovery together. What would feel good after your imagined scene? Maybe it’s a combination of food and water, a comfortable bed, cuddling, processing the experience together, or maybe it’s just time alone with a check in later on. Planning for aftercare is a great opportunity to think about your unique needs and practice communicating them.

Gradually Building Up

Most kink has risk associated with it, which is part of what makes it erotic and exciting. It’s important to acknowledge the risk from the outset, to talk about it with your therapist, and not to jump into the deep end right away. You want to start slow and gradually build up over time so you can feel the thrill of the risk without actually putting yourself in significant danger. 

If your kink is bondage, start by restraining a certain part of the body, like your hands. Have a few experiences and see how that feels, then think about adding more. If you’re into impact play, start with something like light spanking and go from there. The slower you go at first, the more pleasure you will ultimately get out of the journey. 

You want to find that edge between the thrill/ risk of eroticism and knowing on a deeper level that you are still safe and secure. 


The Importance of Resourcing 

In order to engage in your kink in a healthy way, you need to feel resourced. It’s like anything else that requires a lot of energy. If you want to play in a soccer game, you need to be rested and in shape to some degree, you need to know the rules of a game to some degree, and you need to have some level of trust in your teammates. Think of playing with your kink in a similar way. What do you need to feel resourced enough to have the experience feel good and healthy? Diet, exercise, and sleep are important. Some level of trust in the partner(s) you are playing with is very important. Talking to your therapist before and after to prepare and to process is great. Reading some kink affirming content, talking to a friend about the experience, building a kink-positive community, etc. 

It can be tempting to keep our kink to ourselves. Even sharing it with a friend or therapist can be difficult and might feel like giving up its power to some degree. But if you explore your kink in a way that lacks vulnerability and intentionality, or if you want to keep it outside of your consciousness by engaging with it in a disembodied way, you are likely to put yourself at risk and have experiences that you are not properly resourced for. This can result in a lot of negative emotions in the aftermath, including shame spirals, that lead you to believe that the kink itself is somehow a problem instead of viewing the way you are engaging with it as the problem. 

The best way to think about your newly discovered kink is as a younger, vulnerable part of you that is just emerging into the world. It needs to be treated gently and delicately with a lot of care and intentionality, and then it can blossom into something beautiful and empowered.

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© 2023 EXPANSIVE THERAPY | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Stay in the Know

Join our newsletter to get mental health tips and promotional offers delivered to you weekly.

Drop us a line.

Questions, concerns or need support?


info@expansivetherapy.com

(917)426-1521

© 2023 EXPANSIVE THERAPY | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Stay in the Know

Join our newsletter to get mental health tips and promotional offers delivered to you weekly.

Drop us a line.

Questions, concerns or need support?


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(917)426-1521

© 2023 EXPANSIVE THERAPY | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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