Trainees, do you need a mentor? Reasons why you might…

 

English: A new and emerging symbol for Polyamo...

English: A new and emerging symbol for Polyamory, non-monogamous relationships, and LGBTQ individuals. The box unfolding into an open heart represents “love outside the box”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since we launched the mentor list two weeks ago, the response from counsellors volunteering their services has been phenomenal. We have over 20 counsellors on the list so far, volunteering their services, covering almost every flavour of LGBTQI, poly, kinky, sex-positive, non-binary, and ethically non-monogamous.

 

So I am guessing that there are people reading this who might benefit from a mentor but are wondering if this is right for them, or what the point is. I wanted to point out a few places where it might be useful to have a mentor to go to. Some of these are my own experiences, some are based on others’ experiences.

 

Firstly, if any of the above identities fit with you (or you THINK they might) and you’re not out about them, then a mentor with experience in that area might be able to help. This has so far been the biggest request from trainees – it seems we most want to talk to people (so far) about how to manage our professional and personal identities; how out do we want to be, etc.

 

If you are out, and things might mostly feel ok, then you might wonder why a mentor would be helpful. Essentially, sometimes, it can be useful just to have the ear of someone who has passed through a similar situation with similar concerns. Someone who can understand when you say ‘it really makes me cross that everything on parenting covers ‘mother and father’ and there is no considering for same-sex parenting’, or ‘I have to explain my identity to my class before I can have a conversation about something important to me’.

 

Perhaps you’re poly or otherwise ethically non-monogamous and have heard the comment ‘greedy’ (see also ‘bi’). These may have been presented as jokes, but they hurt (they’re called microaggressions. If this has happened to you, look it up – you will find some useful stuff). Or you hear ‘I don’t understand how you can love more than one person (or have sex with more than one person)’ or ‘but isn’t that cheating?’

 

Perhaps you’re trans or non-binary and in your class you hear jokes about a ‘man in a dress’, or you’re out as trans/NB and often misgendered or misnamed. You may be lesbian gay or bi and hear ‘that’s gay’ as a derogatory comment. As an L or G person it’s directly insulting. As a B person it’s insulting and also depressing, because you’re invisiblised (I think I made that word up). You might be kinky and be hearing a LOT about 50 shades of grey right now, about how BDSM is abuse; that you cant consent to it, or that something is wrong with you if you like it – especially if you’re the dominant/top.

If any of these feel like you, click here to sign up for a mentor. You won’t have to wait more than a few days before I get back to you with someone relevant.

 

Calling LGBTQIA+ counsellors and trainees – mentor list

Rainbow flag.Trans flag.Leather flag.Bi flag.Asexual flag.Intersex flag. Genderqueer flag. Poly flag.Bear flag.
(I’m aware that I’ve missed some flags, and that some are more contentious than others, but I wanted to put up a selection)

 

Do you identify as lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, genderqueer, pansexual, non-binary, asexual, intersex, polyamorous, ethically non-monogamous, kinky, or with some other alternative gender or sexual diversity? Are you a supervisor, therapist or a trainee?

As a psychotherapy trainee who identifies as queer, sometimes, I am glad of the opportunity to be able to talk with experienced therapists who identify in similar ways to me. I was recently at a Pink Therapy event and was part of a conversation where it was suggested that it might be a good idea to create some kind of mentor program to help trainees in similar positions. I’ve volunteered to organise it.

So,  for Pink Therapy I am co-ordinating a mentor scheme for those people who identify in the above groups (as well as others I haven’t listed here that are along similar themes – please let me know if I have missed yours out!). It will also hold supervisor details, so if you don’t wish to mentor but are willing to offer supervision, please also complete the form. This list is open to anyone working or training as a counsellor, psychotherapist (of any modality) or clinical or counselling psychologist.

 

If you’re in some way LGBTQIA or ‘beyond the rainbow‘ and are a qualified counsellor or counselling/clinical psychologist who could offer some advice/support to a trainee, or if you’re a trainee who could use some support from a qualified counsellor or clinical or counselling psychologist, or if you’re able to offer (or are looking for) supervision please go to this page to fill in the form that goes directly to me.

As a general rule it would probably be short-term via email, but it would be negotiable between you and the trainee/therapist you’re matched with.

 

I am maintaining two lists, one of mentors/supervisors and one of trainees. When trainees contact me with the type of person they feel they would benefit from talking to, I will send their email address to a relevant person and ask that person to get in touch. If you’re a ‘senior’ trainee (someone who feels they could mentor newer trainees), please feel free to ask to go on the mentor side. Click this link to get to the page with the relevant information or email me: rainbowoftranquility@gmail.com or leave a (screened) comment below.

 

My 2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

i don’t normally do this kind of thing, but I liked what it said and how it said it and thought I would take the time to post and say thank you for reading. Gaining new followers and readers is still really exciting to me even after a year. I hope soon to make it to 100 followers, which doesn’t sound like much, but it is to me. Thank you.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

A correction to the PCQ article

 

The drawing dates to 1760, when the Sade was n...

The drawing dates to 1760, when the Sade was nearly 20 years old. It’s the only known authentic portrait of the Marquis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I wrote a piece (linked here) for Person-Centred Quarterly (the magazine for BAPCA). I was very excited because it was my first ‘proper’ article. Ok, so it was for a practitioner magazine and with a fairly small readership, but it was my first one.

PCQ and BAPCA in general, is trying to make itself more diversity-aware and as a result of that is trying to include articles about more diverse ways of being. When one of the people in charge asked for articles, I thought I might expand on some of the things I’ve written here, and in my letter to therapy today on BDSM. So I did, and ran through a couple of minor amendments, and it went off to print.

When the magazine arrived and I was reading through, I noticed that my (correct) acronym explanation for BDSM had been amended to be incorrect, without any consultation from me. So, if you are on this page because you’ve read my PCQ article, the correct acronym explanation for BDSM is Bondage, Domination, Submission/Sadism, Masochism, not Bondage, Domination, Submission/Sado[-]masochism. If you already knew this and are wondering why I wrote incorrect information, I didn’t. It was amended without my knowledge.

When I contacted the editor and asked what happened, it seems that he thought I had the acronym wrong, and so he changed it. It was only on my explanation that he realised that ‘sadism’ and ‘masochism’ existed as a separate construct to ‘sadomasochism’, and unfortunately, it was too late then. He told me that if anyone wrote in to complain, that he would ‘own up’ and issue a correction, and I responded asking him to consider MY email such a complaint – after all, it is a researched piece of work about a little-known part of the population (for most therapists, anyway), and as such is intended to educate. Only now it is mis-educating. He has agreed to issue the correction for August, which I am pleased about.

I decided to put it here in my blog, because my blog is my voice, and because otherwise people won’t see the correction until August-September, which either gives three months of knowing ‘I’ got it wrong, or NOT knowing ‘I’ got it wrong. Hopefully some people who will/have read the article will come read this. 🙂

 

 

When a client is kinky: A response to an article in ‘therapy today’

Pink fluffy handcuffs

Recently, Therapy Today published an article: The researcher: would you believe it?, which is about the discovery by one man of a paper that discusses people who are ‘kinky’ (who like BDSM) and how they might have better mental health than people who are not kinky.

The article suggests that even if these results are true, you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. Of course it’s wise to take everything with caution – some of the ‘best’ psychology studies have since been proven to be forged, but my issue is less with that and more with this: the therapy today article conflates BDSM and abuse. It discusses how the author has read ’50 shades’ as a fetish book and then goes on to say that Ana could be defined as a victim of domestic violence. This is absolutely correct. But there is nothing consensual about domestic violence, and kink (BDSM) is about giving informed consent. Very few people whether in to BDSM or not  who are reading the book would say that Ana was giving consent (let alone ‘informed’) a lot of the time.

Any ‘kink 101’ would soon show the difference between the two issues (as for 50 shades, the author has been explicit about the fact that she did very little research into her topic also). Just as one could be not kinky and abusive, one could be in to BDSM and be abusive. the BDSM is not the issue, ABUSE is the issue in the book.

The biggest problem with this article is that of course kinky people will be our clients. Some studies have shown that people who practice kink make up 15-20% of the population. They live and work and breathe, just like the vanilla people. they will have better or worse mental health. And as a trainee who has to have counselling as part of that training, and who has to deal with being different on many levels (including sexuality and disability) I want to know that the person I am choosing for a therapist knows what they’re talking about. This article seems to poke fun at kinky people (kinky people, having normal mental health? That can’t be!) and silences a minority further.

Since the publication of 50 shades, and the plethora of books on the topic that has followed, kinky sex has become more and more common (as anecdata – just yesterday I met someone who told me that 50 shades of grey had changed her life – that she had no idea she liked those things until she read the book, and finding them has made her happier), and certainly more accepted. This means that more and more of our clients will be a) reading this and b) exploring it.

It seems to me that we do our potential clients a massive disservice by discussing the topic in this manner (rather than genuinely trying to increase our understanding), and by viewing our clients in this way (people who like to dish out pain are abusive, and people who like to receive pain are clearly victims of domestic violence). If any of our clients wanted to talk to us about how they feel about discovering this side of themselves, or are people in these types of relationship who don’t want to have to filter their language (much as gay men used to have ‘wives’ with female names), they will certainly not be inclined to do so if they have any inclination that we hold these kinds of feelings towards them, and we are clearly not then doing the best that we can for our clients, whatever our modality may be. We are forcing our clients in to a closet and we are silencing them. Let’s not do that?

Original references:

1. BDSM users are better mentally adjusted. News. Therapy Today 2013; June: 5.
2. http://io9.com/kinky-people-have-better-mental-health-than-the-rest-of-510510381
3. http://www.livescience.com/34832-bdsm-healthy-psychology.html
4. http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/08/13/study-finds-its-more-like-fifty-shades-of-abuse/58393.html 
5. http://www.ted.com/talks/ben_goldacre_battling_bad_science.html 
6. http://weknowmemes.com/2012/07/dont-believe-everything-you-read-on-the-internet/