I can’t lie. I purchased this mug for myself. I saw an ad for it on social media and just had to have it.
I love being a therapist who serves the communities I am part of: Queer, Kinky, Polyamorous. And, metaphorically speaking, I want to think of myself as a cool rainbow-haired unicorn living her best life, whether I’m in or outside of the counseling room.
My journey to better understand my queer sexuality began in graduate school, when I finally had a space where I could reflect honestly and deeply about who I really am. Working as an intern for the Colorado AIDS Project, which was an incredibly sex positive and affirming environment, I began to learn about different Kinks and the practice of Consensual Non-Monogamy through educating myself to best serve my clients. Simultaneously, I started to discover language that finally represented and reflected my own interests and desires.
Similar to clients I have served, it has taken me a long time to not only accept, but to also own and celebrate the many facets of my identity. We humans have a funny tendency of constantly questioning our “enough-ness”...
Am I queer enough to call myself Queer?
Am I Kinky enough to go to a dungeon?
Am I Poly enough, even though I am only dating one person currently?
I believe it is a privilege to work as a psychotherapist. I get the opportunity to learn about who a person has been, who they are today, and who they dream of becoming. I bear witness to my clients’ struggles and successes. I hold onto hope and compassion for others during the times they are unable to hold those for themselves. I am invited to become part of my client’s world in unique and supportive ways.
While there are certain challenges to being a therapist who serves their own communities (which I will discuss in a different blog post), and unique policies that must be addressed (see my Therapist in the Wild policy), there are also many incredible benefits:
Shared Language. Clients will often have to spend less time explaining terms they use to describe their experience and themself with a therapist who is already familiar with and knowledgeable of those terms. An example? Metamour refers to the partner of a Consensually Non-Monogamous client's partner. Another example? Switch is the term used for a kinky person who might submit for one partner, and dominate another. Having shared language can allow for more session time to be focused on processing and working through the client concerns.
Offer of Education. While therapy is not advice-giving, there are times when therapists are called to provide psychoeducation and support clients through discussing best practices. An example? Being able to educate my Consensually Non-Nonogamous clients on the differences among Boundaries, Rules, and Agreements. Another example? Supporting my Kinky clients as they navigate forming D/s contracts, and ensuring they feel safe and affirmed throughout the process.
Empathy with Greater Depth. As a Narrative therapist, I emphasize storytelling in my therapeutic work. When it comes to sharing a story, there is Content (i.e., who is involved, what events or behaviors are happening) and then there is Process (i.e., how someone is making meaning of the Content). Even though the exact Content of our stories might be different, there is often similarities in how we Process. As a polyamorous person, I have experienced the complex process of ending a relationship while simultaneously falling in love with someone else. As a Kinky person, I have felt intimidated about crafting my first Scene. As a Queer person, I have had to sit with confusion surrounding my attractions.
Strong Awareness of Safety. Homophobia, Transphobia, kink-shaming, sex negativity, and discrimination against people who do not conform to society’s expectations remain prominent and pervasive. As someone who is part of and serves marginalized communities, I have a strengthened awareness and insight into the needs for safety and protection among my clients. My role as a therapist is to not only empower my clients to advocate for themselves, but to also advocate on their behalf for social and systemic change.
Do you have questions, concerns, or curiosities? Are you interested in becoming a client? Contact me directly by emailing Amanda@livingstorytherapy.com or click the Get Connected button above to submit a consultation request form.