My last blog post was over six months ago (holy crap where did the time go?). In that post I shared about my loss of sleep and the pool of stress I found myself swimming in because of my sexuality realization. I’d had enough. I tried to push through this and figure this out all on my own, but I had finally reached a point where I needed professional help. I needed help to work through all of this…confusion. Without going into too many details about my sexuality struggles, this post outlines how I went about finding some professional help through therapy.
It took me a few weeks to finally bite the bullet regarding getting professional help, but I was tired. At night when the house was quiet and the lights were all off, I often found my brain lighting up like a Christmas tree. I’d be lying awake for hours at a time in a cycle of worry/doubt/anxiety/disappointment/grief.
Finding a therapist
Initially, I checked into coverage through my work benefits, specifically the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), but also my medical insurance. Most employers offer some type of EAP benefit, albeit, it’s not usually well known. An EAP is a program (usually contracted by a 3rd party) that specializes in assisting employees with personal or work-related health, mental, or emotional well-being concerns that might impact their job performance.
Navigating both EAP and medical benefits was a little complicated. Through my research, I realized that the “sexuality struggle” help I was seeking wasn’t considered “medically necessary” (it sure felt like it was) so medical insurance was not an option for me. On to the EAP option.
My particular EAP only included a few general triage visits before all expenses became out-of-pocket. These specific coverage terms did not seem appropriate for me either because I felt, in a way, I had already triaged myself and decided I wanted professional help. However, if your employer offers it, EAP might still be a good place to start.
After few days researching options and finding myself a little flustered, I finally said, “Fuck it!” and went on it on my own dime.
When I made the decision to seek professional help sans financial assistance, Google turned up the Psychology Today Database. I found this a good place to start. Now, like any other online database, I can’t vouch for the quality of the people in the database, but it was one of the easiest I found to search and apply filters on to get started.
After researching myself into near paralysis, I made a couple decisions so I could continue to move forward. First, I didn’t feel I needed prescription medication so finding someone with Ph.D. or Psy.D wasn’t a requirement. Second, I decided I would be more comfortable speaking with a kink aware professional. I figured if I was paying for this out-of-pocket, I wasn’t going to tiptoe around my kink since that’s such a huge part of who I am.
Kink aware therapy
The Kink Aware Professional (KAP) list is currently maintained by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF). They are a sex-positive, advocacy and educational organization. Just like the Psychology Today database, this is another resource for finding therapists (and other professionals).
It’s important to note that the KAP list isn’t vetted per se. Like any referral database, that part is up to you. For me the KAP was a starting point. Also, I feel it’s important to note, that just because a therapist isn’t on the KAP list, it doesn’t mean they are not aware of kink. I have several friends seeing therapists that don’t advertise as “Kink Aware.” Neither friend has experienced any issues talking about their kink with their therapists.
I researched a few local Kink Aware Professional therapists and sent out a couple emails outlining my struggle. After some email exchanges, a few back and forth emails I decided to book an introductory appointment. It is difficult to assess personality compatibility via written medium, but I choose the professional I felt more comfortable based on the emails exchanged.
My first appointment
My goal for the first appointment was to provide the therapist some background and get to the root of my turmoil (my sexuality).
As my first appointment approached, I kept a list of high level notes on my smartphone. This list contained the things I wanted to talk about. After all, if I am paying for their help by the hour, I want the time to be productive.
I felt nervous walking up to the front door. As I entered the waiting area, my therapist came in and introduced them self and offered me a bottle of water. After a minute or two of pleasantries, they escorted me to a smaller office space that was painted a grayed navy blue color and had a large sectional on the far wall. I felt at ease in the space.
My first session was slotted for an hour — it went two. After I got started, the floodgates opened. The two hours went by in a blink!
I informed my therapist about my kink right off the bat. They didn’t bat an eye when I mentioned I was into diapers, ageplay, etc. They indicated they had counseled other ABDLs before so this wasn’t new for them. It felt nice to say the word diaper out loud without the fear of judgement or possible misunderstanding.
The therapist let me do most of the talking that first session and asked questions when things weren’t clear. It was a relief to talk openly about this. This was the first step towards acknowledging and accepting who I was and knowing I was not the first person to travel down this windy path.
At this point, I feel I should share advice several people shared with me. If at any time you don’t feel comfortable with your therapist, it’s okay to move on to someone else. If the fit isn’t there, find someone else. Most therapists will respect this as their goal is to see you get the help you need. Remember they are there to assist you.
As of this writing, I have been to seven, two hour therapy sessions. Initially, I was going once every couple weeks. This frequency and duration allowed me to chew through this major change in my life.
Discovering and accepting in your mid-thirties that you identify as mostly gay is hard, especially with a wife and kids. This impacts the rest of my life and the lives of those closest to me. Fear–worry–doubt. Repeat.
My therapist indicates they believe I know and have accepted deep down who I am inside. Sure the timing sucks and it’s really scary. It would have been a lot easier had I known 15-20 years ago. However, as Forest Gump says, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” I didn’t choose this for myself. It is clear I didn’t walk down the stereotypical life path, but it’s the path I’m on. Wouldas, couldas, and shouldas need not apply.
Since seeking therapy, I keep my chin up, walk a little taller and am more satisfied in my own skin. My therapist has suggested that I no longer need to go as frequently, at least related to my sexuality. Long-term, I don’t believe I will necessarily need regular therapy, but it has helped a lot.
Despite not “needing” therapy, I will still seek occasional sessions. The emotional benefits of therapy exceed my expectations and are, without a doubt, worth the time and money. My current plan is to visit my therapist every six to eight weeks or so to check-in. I never seem to have trouble filling the time talking through life as it relates to my kink and my sexuality.
I still keep that rolling list going in my phone…
If you need some help, get some help
I hope by sharing my experience at least one of you considering help will be convinced to take that first step. Even as a person who thought they had their stuff all together, it took a close person in my life telling me it was okay to go see someone. They even invited me to one of their therapy sessions before I finally got some help. I am so glad I did.
Life is way too short to stress and be miserable. If you need some help, get some help. Before all of this, I felt that therapy was something other people did. The reality is, therapy is a little secret that a lot of healthy people know about and utilize. The whole experience has been life changing for me.
If I can help answer any questions, please let me know.
Hugs and crinkles,