Dr. Harmony Biography and Kink Experience
My name is Patsy Evans aka Dr. Harmony and I am a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Supreme Court Certified Family Court Mediator, Clinical Sexologist, and Certified Transgender Care Provider. I have been a member of and worked with the alternative lifestyle, or Kink, community for more than 20 years. One of the surprising observations that inspired my research and work with this community was the discovery of a very distinct cultural bias about alternative sexual, gender, or relationship lifestyles from the mental health profession that my clients, friends, and colleagues have shared. Many clients of mental health professionals anecdotally report that they have lost faith in healthcare professionals due to either perceived or actual judgment from their providers.
I personally belong to a number of listservs, email groups, and Facebook groups that are geared towards these lifestyles, and rarely does a day go by that someone is not requesting resources for their therapist or physician to help them understand their lifestyle. There is a popular term coined by Dossier Easton, a pillar in the ethical non-monogamy community, for clients who have been maltreated by mental health providers for their alternative sexual, relationship or gender identity: “whether a patient flees a therapeutic environment because they feel pathologized or marginalized by a clinician, we refer to them as therapy refugees” (as cited in Ortmann and Sprott, 2013, p. 6).
Like David M. Ortmann and Richard A. Sprott, my practice has been filled with these clients for almost a decade of my mental health counseling work. One client of mine, who identified as both polyamorous and Kinky, reported that a mental health provider hung up on them and told them never to call again when she was inquiring about services for her suicidal partner. Not long after, her partner committed suicide. I have often wondered if the loss of my patient’s partner could have been prevented if there had been proper intervention from a trained mental health professional.
Clinical Practice and KTCI
In my clinical practice, I also mentor registered and student interns. As a general rule, in my clinical practice, I only take on interns that have a desire to work with this population. I require a significant amount of reading and volunteering within the alternative sexual, gender, and relationship community. I also take them on field trips to events and dungeons, private facilities with specialized equipment for members to mingle and participate in BDSM activities, so that they can become familiar, educated, and desensitized to things that might typically shock them. This kind of exposure often brings up biases for some of my interns that they did not know they had. For example, I can distinctly remember the disappointment I felt for one intern whom I had taken to a fetish convention—a multi-day event that offers classes, social events, and exhibitors marketed towards those who participate in fetish activities. The evenings before classes at this event, there was a meet and greet which was an incredible opportunity for a new intern or student to gain exposure to a variety of fetishes in a public, non-threatening, venue. At this event, there happen to be a gentleman who was walking around tied up in a speedo asking for ladies to pull him around on a string. We declined, and as he walked away her words were “how pathetic.” This response alluded to me that her graduate education had not properly prepared her for working with this population. This experience highly influenced my decision to develop this program.
KTCI Program Augments Sexuality Training
Although Florida state licensure of mental health providers requires graduate coursework in human sexuality, these classes briefly skim over BDSM, non-monogamy, and Kink. Based on my personal experience as an instructor and a student, as well as the feedback from my interns, these classes do nothing to normalize these behaviors or prepare students working with these populations leaving potential counselors to use their own schema and bias in their professional interactions. This further reinforces the need for an educational program designed to meet these educational benchmark needs.
Ortman, D. & Sprott, R. (2015). Sexual outsiders: Understanding BDSM sexualities and communities. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.