Client Aftercare: Dealing with Stigma and Self-Judgement
This piece has been inspired by my growing affection for my clients and for anyone linked to this industry as a whole. I see this as an addition to the conversations being had around stigma and criminalization and how that impacts anyone linked to this industry.
In recent weeks, I’ve been thinking about the ways that clients can experience stigmatization and isolation due to paying for companionship. These experiences have several obvious consequences which range in magnitude, including how shame and guilt can impact clients’ ability to live their best lives – even when it might not appear that way. Carrying the weight of shame and guilt can sometimes also mean the projection of shame and guilt onto other people and into other areas of our lives.
If we zoom out for a second and look at our society beyond this industry, we can see we live in a culture that sends out all sorts of mixed messages about sex— including the unfortunate and incorrect message that sex is inherently dirty, shameful, and something to keep to yourself, or even to keep “under control.” I would argue that this plays out differently depending on your gender and other life circumstances, but the messages of sex negativity infuse all our lives, regardless.
Messages of sex negativity can weigh particularly heavy if any of the following are happening:
- A sexual desire that is considered non-normative or “weird” is being practiced
- If the person practicing this is relatively isolated in doing so, i.e. no one in their daily lives knows about it or would be open to hearing about it, or if they *have* to be doing this in hiding or in secret
- If sex and companionship is happening in the context of infidelity or outside the agreed upon terms of their other existing relationships
- If money is involved in the practicing of sex and companionship (we are told that if we were worthy of this kind of attention, we wouldn’t have to pay. This is not true.)
If you recognize any of these experiences, I have compiled a small but growing list of resources to help you on your journey to being your best self and using experiences in which shame and guilt present themselves to work through these.
I will leave you with those but first I want to remind us all of a few things in regards to client/provider relationships.
Paying for companionship makes sense in so many contexts and, sometimes, is the best option. It is the culture we live in that has created the conditions under which people need to lie and/or keep secret things especially related to intimacy.
The act of exploring your desires is an act based in courage. The key is to have the other party be consenting to take you through this process. So it is smart to seek out a professional with the skillset and ability to help work with you here.
- Helpful article on infidelity
- I find this article generally positive but there is some language that is non-neutral and may place judgement on certain behaviours or reasons for infidelity
- Other publications by the author of above can be found here
- Suzan Acker, sex coach, offers skype consultations (I know Suzan personally and can vouch for her services): couplesignited.com
- On occasion, I offer coaching sesions online to work with people on internal conflict and shame
- Venus Envy, a sex-postivie, education based store that is also sex worker positive
- Barbra Carellas’ book on ecstacy
- Brene Brown book on feelings of shame
With kisses and in kindness,