First of all, I want to thank all of the folks at Geeky Kink New England for hosting me, and putting together such a wonderful event. On Saturday morning, I taught my Breaking Silence class, which breaks down the differences between healthy and abusive kink, and explores how to best address abuse and violence in kink communities. There was a small turnout, but it seems that everyone in attendance got a lot out of the presentation.

Yesterday afternoon, I led a round table discussion on mental health and coping with mental health issues in the kink community. Since it was once of the last workshops scheduled, and I figured most people would have gone home by then, I wasn’t expecting a very big turnout. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was very much mistaken. We had to bring in chairs from the room next door to accommodate everyone who came. I must say, that I was both humbled and awed by the people who attended that round table. So many people in that discussion displayed courage to speak their truths, compassion for others, and generosity of spirit. I felt genuinely honored for the opportunity to create and hold that space.

I learned a lot about how neuro-atypical people of all stripes come to terms with, compensate for, and communicate the ways in which their circumstances help and hinder their explorations of kink. A lot of people in the room also explored the ways that they have found kink at times healing and intimidating. As I’ve discussed in previous posts, many people have found deep and meaningful healing in the containers that power exchange can create. A number of participants described situations where, for the first time, they feel safe taking off the masks they have to put on in their day to day lives, and find radical acceptance for all of their strengths and challenges.

Speaking as a mental health professional, I am obliged to add the caveat that kink is not necessarily a replacement for therapy, though it can be therapeutic in the right context. There are many unexpected land mines that are all too easy to fall into when a relationship container is breached. There are also questions about boundaries in intimate relationships. A neuro-typical partner of a neuro-atypical kinkster may not consent to playing the part of both lover and healer. Or they may have their own demons to process, which could threaten the safety of a healing space. Sometimes, there is no substitute for seeking out a qualified and well trained therapist. For many, the combination of therapy and healing through kink is a recipe for success. That said, I also acknowledge that not all people want to seek out a therapist. Others still have found more healing through one scene than they did after years of therapy. All of these things are true. And I can only hope that people who do leverage the therapeutic aspects of kink do so carefully, mindfully, and with complete understanding of the potential risks and benefits of those choices.

If the folks who attended my round table are at all representative of the people, neuro-atypical or not, who walk in kinky circles, I have a lot of hope that these kinds of dialogues will continue to promote self awareness and understanding. I hope to have the opportunity to facilitate another such round-table in the future.

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