Out With the Old…In With the New!

BDSM flag4 Cs

Safe, Sane and Consensual, a motto used by members within the Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sado-Masochism (BDSM) community. It makes sense that sexual play be safe, exhibiting sane behaviors and all activities are consensual. However, not everyone has the same definition of safe, sane and consensual. What may be considered safe to one person, might scare someone else to the point of having a traumatic experience. The same concept applies for sanity because everyone has different thresholds and limitations.

Mental Health Care providers are now encouraging an updated motto for the BDSM community stating the 4 C’s: Caring, Communication, Consent, and Caution. Consent remains in the motto because it is not an ambiguous term and should always be present when engaging in any sexual activity. Safe updated to Caution, because BDSM activity should be proceeded with caution, even for the most knowledgeable and experienced Kinksters. The two new terms added are Caring and Communication to replace the previous term Sane. Communication acknowledges the negotiations of a scene (interaction between participants) prior to it beginning, during the scene (verbal and nonverbal) and after the scene. After the scene is when Caring becomes a factor. After care is extremely important because it is the conclusion to the exchange and becomes vital if there is a drop for the Top or bottom.

Caring, Communication, Consent, and Caution offer an all inclusive understanding of BDSM protocol when involving play. Ambiguity is minimized and communication is encouraged to promote a safe environment for all parties included.

Even with an updated motto, there is still potential risk for harm or errors. If you have experienced a scene that did not adhere to the 4 C’s, contact the Counseling Center for Sexual Health (CCFSH.) At CCFSH, we have therapists specialized to work with members of the BDSM community and are here to help.

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI

Top or bottom

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Top or bottom? If your first thought went to what versus who, then you may not know the fun lifestyle of BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sado-Masochism) yet.

In BDSM, just like in any community, there is a hierarchy composed of roles. The two main roles are Top and bottom. In each of these roles there are numerous types. To be a Top, means you could be a Master, Dominant, Owner, Daddy, etc. For every Top there is an equal counterpart. The equivalent bottom types, for the Tops listed, would be: slave, submissive, property, baby girl, etc.

Wonderful, but what does it all mean? In BDSM, there is a power dynamic. This dynamic includes two or more people and is based off an equal understanding of roles. Tops are understood to be in the power position to wield orders, punish or reward as they see fit. bottoms are inclined to meet such demands. In this extensively agreed upon, healthy dynamic, each party is equal, willing and consenting to safe and sane behaviors to be exchanged.

Part of the contract that is drafted between partners, to come to terms on what they will and will not do, is a safe word. This word is unique to each person, cannot be construed as ambiguous (such as stop), and has the full weight to immediately discontinue play between partners once spoken or indicated. The bottom role has the right to utilize their safe word at any time, understanding that it is not to be used as a toy, manipulative tactic, or joke. If done so, trust will be lost and that bottom will quickly turn into the bottom who cried wolf.

Because bottoms have the ability to stop play at any given moment, Tops are limited to play within the bottoms comfort level. Therefore, bottoms truly hold more power than the Tops, despite appearances. This is an easy concept to understand, especially when thinking about the dynamic between Daddy’s and baby girl’s.

Being a Top or bottom is not determinant upon your day to day living. There are several individuals who hold powerful employment positions, but consider themselves to be a bottom role within the BDSM community. A common explanation is, they spend all day telling people what to do. In the bedroom they find comfort and relaxation when someone else takes control and tells them what to do. It takes the thought process out of the equation, lessening the responsibility and allowing an open mental state to experience pleasure.

Whereas, others will demonstrate consistency. Some people are “people pleasing” in day to day life. They constantly seek approval and will continue to do so sexually. The opposite can be true as well. Where someone enjoys control on a continuous basis, both sexually and non-sexually.

Now with a taste and a hint of understanding into the roles of BDSM, I ask again….Top or bottom? If this remains a mystery and you are interested in becoming self actualized, the Counseling Center for Sexual Health (CCFSH) can aid you in your journey. If you know your role and are experiencing difficulty accepting it, CCFSH can help. We look forward to hearing from you.

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI


infidelity picture

Infidelity can be simply defined as breaking a contract between partners in an intimate relationship. Not so simply put is the ripple effect it leaves behind. Each ripple brings its own impact: doubt, anger, sadness, loss, regret, maybe even relief; but at the center there is trust. This is the very foundation relationships are built on.

When a contract is broken by an unfaithful act, the least of the damage done is the act itself. It is the lack of trust from one partner to another; furthermore the lack of trust one has in them self. When this happens core beliefs are shaken. It is through the trust we hold in ourselves, that intuition, that tells us what the “right” decisions are to make daily. For example, “Do not touch the hot pot;” “Look both ways before crossing the street;” “Of course they love you.” This trusted intuition provides safety. When we lose trust; we lose intuition; which ultimately takes away our safety. This domino effect can make us feel lost and raw, like our nerve endings are exposed and leaving us vulnerable.

So what do we do next? Do we pick up the pieces and move on? What does that even look like? Only you can answer this, but the Counseling Center for Sexual Health can help.

For the individual that was unfaithful, there are most likely patterns of this behavior throughout their past. Perhaps it is not infidelity, but traces of abandonment; a need to sabotage relationships; fear of intimacy; etc.

For the partner that learned of the infidelity, they too most likely have a pattern of this behavior in their past. Again, it may not be through a history of intimate partners cheating, but instead patterns of: denial; rescuing people “in need;” trying to change someone; putting themselves in relationships doomed for failure; the forever nurturer; etc.

After both parties are aware of the violation, it really boils down to two basic paths. Path one, the relationship ends and both parties go their separate ways. Path two, both parties agree to stay and work on their relationship. Either way, intensive work is to follow and we at the Counseling Center for Sexual Health can help determine what that looks like with you.

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI

The Imperfections of Sex

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We all know that SEX sells and no one is perfect. Except that guy that just read this and said, “I’m perfect!” He may be right, but we have veered from the point. If no one is perfect and sex is everywhere, what happens when our imperfections and sex collide? …Trouble in paradise; which begs the next question, “Now what?” The options are vast and often break down into stages including, but not limited to: sheer panic, the blame game “it’s not me; it’s you,” abandonment, denial, grief, shame, anxiety, depression, etc. None of these emotions or stages sound appealing or paint a picture of health and it certainly is not what Hollywood is selling. Dang “fine print” can get you every time.

Wherever you may be in this cycle, the Counseling Center for Sexual Health is here to help. We treat a variety of sex related problems ranging from erectile dysfunction to addiction, infidelity, prostitution, compulsive masturbation, and online hookups.

It is a new day in the world of sex. The internet has made pornography more accessible than ever and having sex the easiest it has ever been to get. You do not even need to leave the comfort of your own home in order to have sex. But, even though we know that sex sells, there is another fun fact that “too much of a good thing is not a good thing.”

Suddenly a ritual has formed and before you know it, a routine ensues. For example, you come home from a stressful day at work. You need to unwind so you go through the paces of a hot meal or a couple drinks and some television. Next step, take a shower and get into some relaxed clothes. The computer sits at the desk, waiting for you to come join. The sound of the box fires up and the fan kicks in. A bright screen welcomes you to continue, invites you to begin the internet search. Your computer knows you so well, Google auto populates your search after a couple of letters entered. An abundance of images appear begging you to choose each one, but you skillfully and precisely select the perfect link for you and let the unwinding begin.

Night after night this continues, until it is no longer enough and the frequency increases. The location is no longer only the comfort of your own home, but it is the car, office and bathroom stall. The ritual has progressed, and not only has the frequency and location changed, but your physical health is changing as well with sores and chaffing from excessive friction.

This is no longer a coping mechanism for stress, but an impairment on your life. Masturbation is healthy, but history will repeatedly prove that too much of a good thing is not a good thing. The Counseling Center for Sexual Health can help you develop healthy coping strategies and remove the impairment. Call today and together we can work to build a healthier lifestyle.

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI

Bridging the Gap from Vanilla to BDSM

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Bondage; Discipline; Dominance; Submission; Sado-Masochism. For some these words describe sexual desires; for others a lifestyle. When brought to the root of BDSM there is a definitive power play. It is this concept of power people crave. Our society feeds off of it; whether in the bedroom or at the office. Even the most “vanilla” of couples exhibit a dimension of this play. Example number one: a heterosexual couple; man works, woman stays home. Society deems this couple “normal,” maybe even successful; a couple others should aspire to be. By default, a power play has emerged. The man is the sole provider and the woman is subservient. In this example, we can easily see the role of Dom and Sub. Regardless of whether they are engaging in sexual relations, a dynamic is formed. This style of kink simply defines these roles and adds play to the mix. It is this idea that intrigued the masses. Curiosity did not kill the cat this time; instead it saved Barnes & Noble. By the sheer volumes sold of the novel, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Barnes & Noble remains in business today. Looks like some people want to replace their skeletons with whips and chains!

You should be aware that, although “Fifty Shades of Grey” appealed to America’s sexual roots, it was not supported by the BDSM community. The number one rule when engaging in this specific type of play is “Safe, Sane, Consensual.” If those rules are not adhered to it is abuse. This number one rule was broken in the very popular novel. Logistics aside, the mass sale of the novel proved a point: That BDSM and what it has to offer is desired by many. But what happens when you want to talk about it? Who do you talk to? How do you even begin? Does a feeling of shame begin in the bottom of your stomach?

It may feel like no one will understand you or that you will be judged but, remember how many people bought the nationwide best seller? You are not the only one curious and there is a safe place to talk about it. Curiosity is perfectly normal and the Counseling Center for Sexual Health has registered therapists to answer any questions you may have.

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI

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