Sex and Gender 101

An online introduction to sex and gender for mental health and wellness professionals.


As with most topics related to human bodies and sexuality, in-depth conversations around sex and gender are often missing from most clinical training programs. This means unless therapists have lived experience beyond typical sex and gender “norms”, their clients become their teachers.

We want to help change that.

It is essential that helping professionals do their own work when it comes to understanding sex and gender and how we can never assume to know someone’s story. In a world focused on a gender-binary of male or female and that assumes cis-gender as the default (you identify with the gender you were assigned at birth), unless intentional effort is made to unpack the bias and stigma, harm can easily be caused to clients.


This is where Westland’s “Sex and Gender 101” 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 members of the BDSM community. 


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:

  • BDSM Relationship Types and Dynamics
  • Difference between BDSM as a behaviour vs. BDSM as a Lifestyle
  • Determining Consensual Kink vs. Abuse
  • The Difference between BDSM and Trauma Reenactment 
  • Encouraging Open Sexual Communication
  • Frameworks for Establishing Consent
  • Barriers to Accessing Mental and Physical Healthcare for Kinky Clients
  • The PLISSIT Model for Clinical Conceptualization
  • What it means to be a Kink-Aware Therapist
  • Among others …

Throughout the program, you will have opportunities to thoughtfully and critically examine your own personal stories, biases, and reactions to BDSM and how they relate to a client’s presenting concerns – all from the comfort of your own home at your own pace.



Watch in-depth expert interviews with members of the kink community and allied professionals. They share their personal experiences and what they feel practitioners need to know to work with this community ethically and effectively.

Expert Interview on BDSM and LGBTQ+ History 

Hardy Haberman

Leatherman and Gay Activist, Author, and International BDSM Educator

Expert Interview Explaining BDSM from a Community Member turned Kink Educator 


Alternative Sexuality and BDSM Educator

Expert Interview Exploring How to Best Support and Understand the BDSM Community 

Melody Anne

BDSM & Kink Sex Educator

Expert Interview Exploring the Difference Between BDSM and Trauma Reenactment

Maureen McEvoy

Trauma Counsellor | Certified Imago Therapist

Take steps to become a Sex and Gender 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. 


5) Expert Interviews (~ 4hrs)

  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
  4. Understanding the Difference Between BDSM and Trauma Reenactment with Maureen McEvoy – Trauma Counsellor and Certified Imago Therapist

This section contains four interviews with BDSM Experts who share their personal 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

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 "Sex and Gender 101" course cost?

This program costs $97 CAD.

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