Inland Empire Chapter of CAMFT

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  • Introduction to BDSM for Therapists: Working Effectively with Kinky Clients

Introduction to BDSM for Therapists: Working Effectively with Kinky Clients

  • 24 Sep 2021
  • 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
  • Online
  • 99


  • Chapter Members

Ryan G. Witherspoon, Ph.D. and Ruthie Gloyd, M.A.

Interview with Ryan and Ruthie


This presentation will provide a clinically-oriented introduction to kink/BDSM sexualities, relationships, and subcultures as well as discuss common clinical issues and considerations.  Working from a sex-positive lens and a cultural competence framework, the presenters will highlight the intersectional nature of kink identities and cultures with other aspects of identity, such as gender identity, sexual orientation, and relationship identity/structure, as well as discuss the nature of frequent stigmatization and pathologization of kink and its impacts on kinky people.  Common kink-related clinical concerns will be discussed, as well as differentiating kink from abuse and the potential interplays of kink and trauma.  Suggestions and resources for further learning will be provided.


1.      Participants will be able to list and describe the three different roles involved in kink play.
2.      Participants will be able to list and describe at least three different reasons people might desire and enjoy kink.
3.      Participants will be able to identify and describe at least three different common kink-related presenting concerns.
4.      Participants will be able to identify and describe two ways that trauma and kink can potentially interact harmfully, and two ways kink can potentially aid in healing past trauma.

About the presenters:

Ryan G. Witherspoon, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist (PSY32022) in private practice in Pasadena, where he works with adults and relationships on matters such as complex and attachment trauma, mood and anxiety problems, personality patterns and challenges, and issues involving non-traditional sexualities and relationship styles, such as BDSM/kink and various forms of consensual non-monogamy.  A researcher and author, Dr. Witherspoon is currently co-authoring a book for mental health clinicians on working affirmatively with kinky clients, and he occasionally publishes peer-reviewed research on these and other topics.  Learn more about Dr. Witherspoon’s work at

Ruthie Gloyd, MA is a graduate student at Brandman University, where she is earning her degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and Professional Clinical Counseling. She holds a graduate degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, with an emphasis in social justice.  She is actively working to build bridges between the BDSM/kink communities and mental health providers as a facilitator, advocate, and ally.

Inland Empire Chapter of CAMFT is approved by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists to sponsor continuing education for IE-CAMFT. IE-CAMFT maintains responsibility for this program/course and its content. CEU  Provider # 62278

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