Kink

Finding the Right Therapist for LGBTQ, Kinky, And/Or Poly Relationships

finding a poly therapist | Uncommon Love Counseling for Open Relationships

One of the most difficult issues many of my clients face is finding a mental health provider who truly understands their needs as a member of the LGBTQ and/or kink and/or poly community.  

All too often well-intended providers on well established referral sites click one easy button to list themselves as LGBT-friendly without training or exposure to our community.  

I've heard far too many horror stories of unfit professionals harming clients and friends with good intentions over the years.

So I’m writing today to list some of the specialized sites I use to find referrals so you might have an easier time finding someone who understands.

Finding a referral is the first step but it’s even more important you interview your provider to be sure they are a good and knowledgeable fit for your unique relationship before you start working together. 

Remember your therapist works for you not the other way around.  

This is your hour and your life, do not hand your trust over to just anyone. You deserve a provider worthy of your trust (and financial investment) and who can create a shame-free space for your to talk (or not talk) about these topics as appropriate.

I’ve listed a few suggested interview questions under each topic below.  If you have additional interview question suggestions please leave them in the comments section I would LOVE to add them!

Finding a provider you trust is imperative to the success of your coaching or counseling relationship.   I am happy to help you find a provider in your area if you need help.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me for assistance.  If you have a provider in mind you would like to add to the listings, please add their information in the comments section to share with others!

Sex Positive, Kink, Fetish, and BDSM Therapists

Questions to ask your potential therapist or coach:

1.  Please describe your previous work with BDSM, kinky or fetish communities and clients.

2.  What does sex-positive mean to you and how does it influence your work with clients?

3.  What kind of training have you received on sex-positive, kinky, or fetish communities?

4.  What makes working with sex-positive clients unique?

Sex-PositiveTherapist Referral Listings:

Kink Aware Professionals is provided by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and is a resource for people who are seeking psychotherapeutic, medical, and legal professionals who are informed about the diversity of consensual, adult sexuality.

Fet Life is a social media site for the BDSM, kinky, and fetish community (think facebook for kinksters).  There are some therapists who list on this site and there are groups where you can ask for community member referrals in your area.

Polyamory, Non-Monogamy and Open Relationships Counseling

Questions to ask your potential therapist or coach:

1.  Please describe your previous work with polyamorous clients or open relationships.*

*I recommend asking specifically about your specific relationship style if possible, open, swinging, polyamorous, non-monogamous etc.  As you know we are a beautifully diverse community with unique needs- be sure your provider knows how to help YOU.*

2.  What kind of training have you received on open relationships and non-monogamy?

3.  What makes working with polyamorous clients and couples unique?

Poly Therapists Referral Listings:

Poly-Friendly Professionals is a list of professionals who have identified themselves as being, open-minded about polyamory and polyamorous issues.

Opening Up List based on the excellent book Opening Up (on open relationships) by Tristan Taormino, a listing of professionals worldwide.

LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning) Counselors

Questions to ask your potential therapist or coach:

1.  Please describe your previous work with LGBTQ communities and clients.*

*I recommend asking specifically about your specific identity group, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer etc.  As you know we are a beautifully diverse community with unique needs- be sure your provider knows how to help YOU.*

2.  What uniquely qualifies you to work with lesbian, gay, and/or bisexual clients?

3.  What kind of training have you received on transgender, gender variant, or genderqueer populations?

4.  What makes working with gender variant or sexual minority clients unique?

LGBT Therapist Referral Listings:

Q Center Resources (this link is for Portland, OR to find a LGBT Community Center near you click here)

Portland State University Queer Resource Center (this center will likely have referrals only in the Pacific Northwest, to find a LGBTQ campus resource center near you click here)

Bisexually Aware Providers the professionals who have chosen to list themselves in this directory have all stated to the directory coordinator that they meet criteria for bisexuality-awareness.

Queer Health Care Referrals (North America)  This is a facebook group of queer and ally identified individuals referring based on personal experiences with healthcare providers.

Informed Consent for Access to Trans Health Care  Not a provider directory, but a great resource for transgender individuals seeking mental health care.

Finding a provider you trust is imperative to the success of your counseling relationship.  

I truly am happy to help you find a provider in your area who respects and affirms your lifestyle and is knowledgeable about your identity.  Contact me here if you would like help.


Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

She can help you:

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).

Negotiating Play

This week’s outstanding guest post comes from one of my favorite sex educators, Dawn Serra the co-host of Sex Gets Real, a twice monthly sex and relationship podcast. I have referred many of my sex positive and kinky clients to her blog and site.  She is currently writing a book on her sexual adventures in kink and navigating the wild world of hook-up sites. She will also be hosting From Curious to Kinky, a series of newbie workshops on exploring the naughtier side of sex, beginning Summer 2014.  Check out her site: or SexGetsReal on Facebook & Twitter


Maintaining eroticism and sexual interest in a relationship can be challenging. Some couples find that exploring fantasies and engaging in kinky play adds a great deal of excitement, freedom, and release to their intimate exchanges.

The foundation of edge play and kinky scenes is a safe space for both parties to be completely honest and accepted within which they can negotiate a hot, sexy scene.

Before we get into the how, let’s talk about a few important points that help lay the foundation for getting started.

Negotiating Play

First, negotiation should be open, supportive, loving, and judgment-free.

No wrinkled noses or using that information later in fights. Nothing is shared with outside parties. This is between you and your lover(s), and it’s an act of trust. Negotiation is a framework allowing tons of freedom inside of that frame for fun, adventurous, safe exploration.

Second, consent is mandatory for all sexual activity.

When lovers negotiate a scene, consent is part of that process. Coercion, intimidation, withheld approval, and disappointment should never enter into this safe space. All parties involved must be seen as equals. Even if power exchange is on the table, during the discussion, everyone has an equal say and an equal vote on the activities and outcomes.

Third, negotiation may sound terribly formal, but the process itself can be wonderfully sexy, erotic, and hot.

Also, it doesn’t have take more than a few minutes (unless you’re negotiating something complex, dangerous, or completely new – those negotiations can take place over the course of weeks or months).

The golden rule of negotiating a scene:

If someone rejects a fantasy during a negotiation, it is a rejection in that moment for that scene. It is not a rejection of you, and it is not a no-never-ever unless expressly framed that way.

So, how do you negotiate in a playful, healthy way?

Begin with using “I” statements.

You must take responsibility for what you want, even if that feels vulnerable or scary.

“I would like to be spanked today.”
“I want to get tied up and blindfolded.”
“I would like to explore rape play.”
“I need to have an orgasm tonight.”

When you fully own your desires and needs without putting any pressure or ownership on your partner, it means your partner doesn’t feel like a failure if they can’t, or don’t want to, do a particular activity that night.

Both (or all) parties must participate in the negotiation. It’s not a dictatorship; it’s a fun exchange.

How Negotiation Works

Next, everyone takes turns stating their needs and desires for that particular scene, followed by a sharing of hard and soft limits (or, things you absolutely will NOT do and things you aren’t comfortable with but may consider). Listen without speaking. After each person talks, do a little clarification before moving on.

Lover 1 – “I’d love to feel a hand on my throat tonight. And I need a lot of eye contact, I need it to be intense.”

Lover 2 – “Do you want to be choked, or do you just want a hand around your neck?”

Lover 1 – “A firm grip is fine, but I don’t want to struggle for air.”

Lover 2 – “Hmmmm. I can definitely do that. I would love to try some knife play. I really want to feel possessive and feral.”

Lover 1 – “Tell me what you mean by knife play. Will you hold a blade near me or are you thinking something more intense?”

Lover 2 – “It would be hot to lightly run it over your skin.”

Lover 1 – “I don’t want cutting or marks, and no pain.”

Lover 2 – “OK. But touching you with the knife is OK?”

Lover 1 – “Yes, as long as I’m not cut or marked. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about the knife when we’re actually doing this, though. Also, no pain with choking.”

Lover 2 – “That’s OK. What word will you say if you get nervous and want me to slow down? And what word will you use if you want me to stop completely?”

Lover 1 – “Um. Let’s keep it simple. Yellow if I’m getting nervous or unsure. Red if I need things to stop so we can check in.”

Imagine sitting against your lover, feeling the heat grow, and the arousal set in as you build a sexy, intense scene together. From start to finish, the exchange can take less than 5 minutes, and both parties will have a pretty clear idea of what’s going to happen.

Negotiation skills take practice. It will be awkward at first, but after a few rounds, you’ll find that articulating needs, desires, and limits flows freely. You’ll find boundaries expand as trust is built and experience is developed.

It’s critical that you avoid the trap of thinking that a rejection of a desire or a need means it will never happen. Stay in the moment, be loving and supportive, and realize that limits do shift and change as time passes.

There’s no rush.

One final word of caution – never, ever re-negotiate in the middle of a scene. That is not only wildly dangerous and unfair, but confusing, especially if power is being exchanged.

Let’s say partners agree to a scene with no penetrative sex. Maybe they are playing with emotions or someone’s body is sore. Whatever the reason, that’s the agreement going in.

However during the scene, one partner is caught with emotion, or just really loves dirty talk. Right in the middle of being tickled or tied up, they call out, “I want you to fuck me” because it’s hot and sexy and it ramps things up. They still need to be safe in the knowledge that the limit set up prior to the scene will be honored.

Even if a person really does want to change the limit mid-scene, it’s better to stick to the pre-established rules.

That ensures that everyone is emotionally safe, and avoids feelings of regret, shame, or violation. It’s better to have a frustrated partner than a wounded one.

Remember, there is no rush.  You can always negotiate the fantasy you had mid-scene later.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself a little embarrassed or shy at first. Edge play is edgy. It’s risky – both physically and emotionally. But, if lovers can be vulnerable with each other, and explore those dark places, incredibly hot and exciting things can unfold.

Happy negotiating!


Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a polyamory consultant, sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

She can help you:

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).