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Can Therapists Tell Our Kinks?

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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

TikTok user @coughbuddy posted a video that stated, “Just realized our therapists know our kinks even if we didn’t tell them.” This TikTok rapidly rose to popularity, receiving 42.2 thousand likes, 647 comments, and 1220 shares.

@coughbuddy how can they look us in the eye #fyp #therapy #therapist #trending #mentalhealth #bipolar #kinktok ♬ Pumpkins Scream In the Dead of Night (feat. shinigami) - Savage Ga$p & 93FEETOFSMOKE

With a conversation sparked, Tiktok users everywhere shared their own thoughts on whether they believed (or even worried!) this was true.

Here at Lioness, we're big on research. So we asked mental health experts and therapists whether there is any truth to these claims.

Here's what they had to say: 

They Can Probably Tell You're Holding Back

Tom Parsons, Mental Health Therapist (MSW, LSWAIC) and Founder of Optimism Counseling, stated:

"Although your therapist probably doesn’t know your kink without you telling them, we know you’re holding something back. [It can be] helpful to discuss sex—including kinks—in therapy.

Our relationships are a big factor in our mental health, and our sexual satisfaction is part of that. Therapists sometimes will talk about clients with other therapists. No, don't worry, it is not to judge you.

The thing I want to know about my clients’ kinks are:

  1. Is it fully consensual? Are they feeling pressured or coerced?
  2. Are they harboring undue shame and guilt? Ten times out of ten, the thing my client thinks is weird is something I’ve heard a dozen times before.
  3. Is the kink connected to a previous trauma? Sometimes a kink can be a way of gaining control over an out-of-control memory, emotion, or event. That’s okay; that can be healthy."

    One of the main emphases of therapy is a) it is a judgment-free zone, and b) therapists want to make sure you are safe.

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This is why Tom’s main concerns are about consent, followed by shame and trauma. The discussion surrounding kinks is often oversexualized and can cause people to feel guilty or shameful about them.

And while our kinks can be related to trauma, they can also just be things we like with no explanation. Both of which are perfectly normal!



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They Might Be Able to Make an Educated Guess

We also received another response from Oli Anderson, an author and life coach with a mental health background. Oli offered a different perspective and told us:

"I think to some extent [the tiktok] is true. Most kinks are just rooted in unresolved childhood stuff - i.e mummy and daddy issues and things to do with dominance/submission. You can normally tell if people have [issues with parents] from their behavior, and you can tell how they might behave in a sexual context given where they stand in terms of masculine/feminine polarity (regardless of sex) and their tendency to dominate or submit.

For example, I once met a guy (not a client) who had a kink for tall women who he wanted to dominate him. When we reverse-engineered it, he basically just had a strict mother."

Some kinks involve dominance or submission roles, a dynamic that we are first introduced to as kids with our parents. If there’s trauma in that dynamic, it can influence what we enjoy in the bedroom. Still, it’s important to acknowledge that this is not always the case with kinks, as we mentioned above.

What's the Diagnosis?

The answer to the question, “Do therapists know our kinks?,” is… kind of, but it likely depends on what you share with them about your life.

Therapy often involves speaking about trauma and life experiences, and sometimes there is be a connection between those experiences and our kinks. After all, pain can be healing. Still, therapists can never be sure unless you tell them.

So go ahead and reschedule your therapy appointments without fear, and consider sharing those kinks with your therapist. Who knows, maybe there's something you'll work through as a result!

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