Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

David Roseborough


Social Work


Social workers may be uncertain of the appropriateness of asking about kink behaviors during a sexual health history and be concerned about their lack of knowledge or preparation to discuss kink with clients. Understanding the subjective experience of individuals engaging in kink could help professionals understand the variations, challenges, and benefits of kink. The purpose of this study was to learn of the benefits and challenges of engaging in kink that clients report to their clinicians. In addition to this, participating mental health clinicians were asked to report different outcomes from different kink practices and what internal processes occur that lead to these various outcomes from their perspective. Eight interviews were conducted and data were analyzed using both inductive and deductive approaches in which categories emerged and were then linked to the literature review. The findings suggest that there are specific qualifications practitioners should have to be kink culturally-competent. The findings also indicated there are potential physical, psychological, and interpersonal benefits to engaging in kink. This study lastly found that internal stigma, external stigma, community issues, and interpersonal issues were the primary reported challenges for those engaging in kink. This research suggests that engaging in kink can lead to empowerment and self-actualization.

Included in

Social Work Commons