As Somatica coaches, we encounter a myriad of sexual and relational issues, curiosities, and desires in our practice. In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in clients who are curious to explore BDSM and kink. Because BDSM requires a high level of communication, skill-building, and attunement to partner(s), it can be very helpful to work with a kink friendly coach to nurture these specific tools.
Reasons to Add Kink Awareness to Your Coaching Tool Chest
Somatica coaches are already capable of teaching clients important skills such as understanding their own desires and negotiating them. However, many coaches are not kink aware or struggle with their own hang-ups around BDSM.
As a refresher: BDSM is erotic role play in which partners consensually explore specific fantasies, desires, and activities. The acronym BDSM stands for Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism. While there are a wide variety of experiences to enjoy on the BDSM menu, not all involve black leather and cuffs. You may be surprised by the inclusion of “vanilla” activities such as cuddling or giving affirmation. If you would like to learn more about BDSM basics, read this article.
When a coach lacks the necessary knowledge and experiential tools to support kinky clients, the best case scenario is to refer the clients out. The worst case scenario is they are provided with potentially unsafe information, shamed, or judged. For these reasons becoming a kink friendly coach matters more now than ever.
The good news is: you already have the hardest part completed – you’re a Somatica coach! As an experienced educator, you have skills in building attunement, trust, and quality communication. BDSM and kink knowledge can therefore be pretty easily integrated into your practice. It just requires with a little bit of fun learning – which you can get with the Somatica In-Person BDSM class.
Some of the things you’ll learn in this BDSM addendum to the Somatica Training are:
Healing Trauma with Kink
In the past decade, sexuality research has begun to elucidate the healing benefits of BDSM practices. It is now evident that BDSM therapy and kinky relationships can provide powerful restorative experiences for those who are healing from past trauma.
Inner Child Work is a tool used by Somatica practitioners to revisit painful and / or traumatic experiences in a client’s past. Recalling a specific memory and intervening within the memory to change the outcome is a tried and true therapeutic tool. BDSM scenes can work on a similar principle, creating new neural associations with specific stimulations or activities. This can be achieved in different ways, depending on the roles taken on by the client (submissive or dominant).
Healing as a Submissive
A submissive client who has experienced trauma (including childhood sexual abuse) can recreate circumstances from their past – but now with an adult’s agency and power.
The submissive is in control of what does or doesn’t happen in a scene, thus maintaining ultimate power over their body. If they experienced past violence such as being struck, then, in a BDSM scene, they can choose to be struck and derive pleasure from the experience. Submissives also have the opportunity to feel truly heard by their dominant during negotiation and play, allowing for a restoration of voice in a scene.
Another benefit of BDSM play is the experience of sub-space. Sub-space is likened to a meditative state in which the submissive is fully present in the moment, free of thought, and free from responsibility. Access to sub-space is contingent upon high levels of trust, safety, and attunement between submissive and dominant.
Healing as a Dominant
Individuals who experienced a loss of control, autonomy, or power as a child or at any point in their lives, often choose to take the dominant role in BDSM scenes. The irony here is that the submissive, not the dominant, has final say about what activities are included in a scene.
However, the dominant has the opportunity to experience control and sometimes even ‘play the villain’, while knowing they are doing no harm. This is important, because many dominants crave the feeling of power and control over another, but they do not want to harm, or violate anyone. BDSM gives dominants the opportunity to play out this role of perpetrator without harming another.
Communication in BDSM
Improved communication is a documented benefit of BDSM practices and therapy. To practice BDSM safely and consensually, partners must discuss their desires, turn-ons, turn-offs, boundaries, limits, and safe words before any play happens. This process is replicated in casual relationships as well as long-term partnership.
BDSM and kink communities also promote communication templates such as SSC (Safe, Sane, Consensual) and RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) which can be utilized beyond the BDSM community to promote consent, pleasure, and holistic communication.
BDSM negotiation is an excellent tool for Somatica practitioners to master and teach their clients in general. Through comprehensive sexual communication clients learn to:
- Identify their desires
- Identify their boundaries
- Advocate for their needs and wants
- Negotiate their partner(s) desires
- Actively listen
- Give feedback
- Process disappointment
- Set realistic expectations
- Normalize vulnerable communication
- Share transparently
Despite BDSM and kink’s increasing visibility in mainstream media and pornography, many people still feel shame or embarrassment about their dark desires.
Shame has been proven to lead to poor self-esteem, lack of fulfillment, isolation, fear, anger, and in extreme cases, violence. As Somatica practitioners we are trained to identify and heal shame. BDSM and kink present as a unique opportunity to eliminate shame for those whose desires may be well outside the accepted norm. Deshamifying a clients’ desires and fantasies is Somatica Method 101, and every practitioner should jump at the chance to heal sexual shame.
A Focus on Pleasure
As Somatica coaches, we acknowledge the inherent value of pleasure. When we focus on pleasure, we have the opportunity to teach our clients to do the same. When we incorporate BDSM therapy and create space to heal trauma with kink, we open up a whole new set of possibilities for our clients, such as:
- BDSM is sensational: Teach a wider variety of touch and incorporate more tools
- Hottest Sexual Movie: Support your clients with darker and kinky movies
- Affirmation of darker fantasies and desires
BDSM & Kink Friendly Coaching is in Demand
The most obvious reason to become a BDSM and kink friendly coach is that there is more demand for this knowledge than ever before.
In a groundbreaking 2017 study by Dr. Justin Lehmiller, it was discovered that BDSM were the second most popular type of fantasies Americans have (the first being multi-partner play). As Somatica coaches we need to know what people are doing, what the current discourse around sexuality is, and how popular media influences our clients. It’s important to continue learning and growing to keep our practice up to date and energized.
As educators, we have the opportunity to lead by example, through our own continued education and growth. Becoming BDSM and kink aware will add the following benefits to your coaching practice:
- Knowledge of the best practices around safety and sexual health
- The ability to discern between BDSM and abuse
- Addition of countless pleasurable activities to the menu
- Confronting your own judgments and limiting beliefs
- Necessary tools to become even more affirming and de-shaming
The Somatica Method provides coaches with plenty of tools – but as your practice grows, you’ll soon discover it’s never a bad idea to throw a few more into that tool box.
Becoming a BDSM and kink friendly coach also empowers you to embrace the darker side of sexuality and intimacy yourself. Each lesson we learn can be passed on to our clients, which then spreads into the world like wildfire. We need the fire of acceptance, trust, deshamifying, pleasure, and community now more than ever.
About the Author:
Shelby Devlin is a sex and intimacy coach, certified in the Somatica Method. She has an M.A. in Sexuality Studies from San Francisco State University, where she created original research on the role emotions play in arousal and pleasure, as well as the impact shame has on our sexuality.
As a coach, Shelby has supported clients all over the world in exploring darker desires, including D/s, BDSM, fetish and kink. Early in her career, she worked as a sex educator, teaching classes about health and safety, as well as practical skill-building for various BDSM activities.
Shelby has also studied under professional Doms in the Bay Area and NYC. She has received formal training in bondage, rope play, CBT, breath play, impact play, D/s, and various forms of esoteric kink.
Join her for her 2022 SOMATICA IN-PERSON BDSM CLASS in November 2022.