Painful Sex: Working with GPPD (Genito-Pelvic Pain/Penetration Disorder)

An online introduction to GPPD (Genito-Pelvic Pain/Penetration Disorder) and working with clients who experience painful for mental health and wellness professionals.


In a recent study out of Quebec, approximately 25% of respondents reported interest or participation in behaviours that would be defined as “masochistic” ***  This means it is likely that at least 1 in 4 of your existing clients are participating in BDSM but may not feel comfortable sharing it you.

Many clients report being hesitant to share their participation in BDSM activities with helping professionals due to fear of judgement, stigmatization, active shaming and a misunderstanding of legal implications.

And many helping professionals report being hesitant to even ask about sex ~ particularly BDSM/Kinky sex ~ because of a lack of personal comfort with the subject or a lack of access to specific training to work effectively and ethically with this community.


Which is where Westland’s “Painful Sex: Working with GPPD (Genito-Pelvic Pain/Penetration Disorder)” comes in.



Designed for psychotherapists, clinical counsellors, and mental health or health care professionals looking to expand their existing skills and awareness for working with sex-based pain conditions.  


This online program will:

  • Introduce you to many of the fundamental issues and concerns facing those practicing BDSM, and those in the BDSM community,
  • Help increase your confidence and competencies in working with clients from the kink community,
  • Help you explore your own sexual beliefs to identify biases and assumptions that may get in the way of working with this group,
  • Help you develop a basic understanding of some of the principles and techniques of sex therapy as it relates to BDSM and becoming a KINK-Aware practitioner,
  • and help you gain new knowledge and an expanded ability to integrate new insights about sex and sexuality in a clinical setting.


“BDSM: Working with Kinky Clients” is an overview of theory and research covering the historical, neurological, psychological and social/cultural influences of BDSM on human sexuality and sexual expression.

And since theory only makes sense with context, we also explore clinical applications for working with members of the kink community so you can see how this information applies to you and your clients immediately.


We cover:

    • Different types of GPPD  and how the symptoms present

    • Understanding the prevalence, significance, and impact of GPPD for clients

    • An exploration of other common concurrent genito-pelvic pain conditions and how you can tell the difference
    • An overview of common causes of  (biomedical, psychological, and relationship factors)
    • Clinical considerations for working with clients suffering from genito-pelvic pain
    • How to screen and assess for GPPD so clients can get the proper treatment
    • An overview of best medical treatment practices
    • An overview of best psychotherapy treatments
    • Barriers to accessing mental and physical healthcare
    • Barriers to accessing mental and physical healthcare for clients
    • Case studies and personal stories
    • Sexual anatomy refresher
    • Suggested readings, worksheets, resources
    • Plus much more…

We also have in-depth interviews from experts in the field, such as Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists, Sexual Pain Researchers, as well as those who have suffered from GPPD themselves, to help you navigate the broad range of impacts that GPPD can have. 

And throughout the program you will be encouraged to thoughtfully and critically examine your own personal stories, biases, and reactions to sexual pain, and how they relate to client’s presenting concerns – all from the comfort of your own home at your own pace.

Take steps to become a Kink-Aware Clinician today!


BDSM: Working with Kinky Clients Terms and Conditions

More information about the program and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) can be found below. If you have any further questions, you can reach us here or at

In this online training, we explore the following five areas:


1) What is BDSM? (~ 30min)


In this section we introduce you to BDSM and explore many of the terms, concepts, dynamics and definitions found within the BDSM community. We also help you discover the difference between BDSM behaviours and those that identify with the BDSM Lifestyle, while covering a brief overview of BDSM throughout history. 


2) Barriers to Care and Clinical Conceptualization (~ 45min) 


As the name suggests, in this section we share many of the common barriers that members of the BDSM community face when trying to access mental health and medical care.  We also share how the PLISSIT Model of Case Conceptualization can be used to help support you in your practice.


3) BDSM and Consent (~ 1hr)


This section outlines four different consent frameworks predominant in the BDSM community and how consent conversations can differ when working with BDSM practitioners.  In addition, we explore how therapists and clients can learn to differentiate between BDSM and abusive relationships, and the legal considerations when consenting to bodily harm.


4) Resources (~ 30min)


In our resource section we provide downloadable handouts, checklists and worksheets to support clinicians and clients, as well as supplemental links to external resources, articles, and videos, plus groups and organizations doing great work in this area for further training. In addition, you will find a “Sexual Anatomy: Fact or Fiction” section to help you brush up on your health class knowledge from high school.


5) Expert Interviews (~ 3hrs)

  1. Understanding and Supporting the BDSM Community with Melody Anne – BDSM & Kink Educator 
  2. A BDSM History Lesson with Hardy Haberman – Leatherman, Gay Activist, Author and BDSM Educator 
  3. Community Member turned Kink Educator explains BDSM with Redrobin – Alternative Sexuality and BDSM Educator

This section contains three interviews with BDSM Experts who share their person stories, as well as advice to clinicians working with this community. 


You will have access to training materials for six (6) months from your registration date. This module has been pre-approved for six (6) CEC’s with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA)

Terms and Conditions for BDSM: Working with Kinky Clients

*** Christian C. Joyal & Julie Carpentier (2017) The Prevalence of Paraphilic Interests and Behaviors in the General Population: A Provincial Survey, The Journal of Sex Research, 54:2, 161-171, DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2016.1139034

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does this course take to do?

Participants report this program typically takes approximately six (6) hours to complete. However, it may take you longer depending on a few factors such as:


  • How fast you read?
  • How many notes you like to take?
  • How much time you take reviewing resources?
  • How much time you take to explore the personal reflection questions?
  • And pre-existing knowledge of the subject matter.
How many Continuing Education Credit (CECs) is this course eligible for and with what associations?

This course is pre-approved for six (6) continuing education credits (CECs) with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).  We anticipate this course would be eligible to receive CECs from other associations but cannot guarantee this.  Please check with your specific accrediting organizations to determine CEC eligibility prior to taking this program if CECs are a determining factor for your registration. 

Will I be able to call myself a "Sex Therapist" if I complete this course?

No. Being a “Sex Therapist” means you have done in-depth clinical training and research in the field of sex therapy, and have received clinical supervision from someone qualified in this area.

Depending on your clientele and/or personal and professional experience, upon completion of “BDSM: Working with Kinky Clients” you will be able to call yourself a Kink-Friendly Therapist, or possibly a Kink-Aware Therapist, but not a Sex Therapist. 

Will I get a certificate at the end?

Yes. Upon successful completion of a quiz (a score of 80% or higher) to show completion and comprehension, you will get a digital certificate of achievement for your records.

How long do I have access to the program?

You will have access to the program and resources for six (6) months from the day you register.

How much does the "BDSM: Working with Clients" course cost?

This program costs $197 CAD.

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