Historically, psychologists have regarded the practice of BDSM as strictly pathological, but new research and practitioner experience suggest that BDSM can be highly therapeutic when it comes to a person’s mental health. Instead of exhibiting ‘significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or another important area of functioning’, which is how psychology tends to describe sadists and masochists, BDSM has manifested its healing powers time and again in controlled and well-organized environments. People from all sorts of backgrounds and sexual preferences, transgender dating enthusiasts included, ascertain that BDSM therapy, in which they’re subjected to the submissive role, can lead to a kind of mystical experience that helps overcome the issue at hand.
BDSM as a Treatment Option
Therapeutic sessions are often not performed by committed partners unless they’ve been trained to administer BDSM as a treatment for mental disturbances. Experienced ringmasters help clients overcome various kinds of problems, from the repression of emotions and sexual abuse to crippling anxiety and extremely low self-confidence.
There is scientific merit to these claims supported by numerous studies conducted on the topic. For instance, a study done in the Netherlands found ‘a greater prevalence of positive psychological traits in BDSM practitioners than in the general public’.
Further, the practitioners were less neurotic, more open to new life experiences, more extroverted, less sensitive to rejection, and more conscientious. A subsequent study in the US found that couples that practiced BDSM play reported a reduction of stress as well as an increased level of intimacy.
Kinds of Issues Tackled in BDSM
Clients who come to BDSM therapy have all sorts of issues or psychological trauma. BDSM administered as therapy has been known to help victims of sexual abuse find closure by reenacting the abusive scenarios with their consent.
Instead of being the medium of trauma, the body becomes the medium of healing, so to speak. Individuals with extremely low levels of self-confidence who don’t think they’re worthy of love and affection are put in cages, with ice being poured over them. The keys to unlock the cage are placed just outside of their reach, and they’re supposed to convince the ringmaster to let them out. Some people take longer or a few sessions to be able to stand up for themselves, and oftentimes a total badass comes out that demands to be freed like they mean it. They come out of the cage with a completely changed self-perspective.
Safety and Consent Concerns
Needless to say, when BDSM is used for therapeutic purposes there is no sexual contact, potential health issues and physical limitations are discussed, and a legal waiver is signed. A safe word is used throughout the process in which the ringmaster becomes whatever the client needs to overcome their mental problems. Clients are made well aware of potential risks, but when conducted by an experienced professional BDSM therapist, a play therapy will not only help them but will also be an eye-opening experience for many people struggling with psychological problems of all sorts.