Jami Voss Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education, Health and

Human Sciences

Announces the Final Examination of

Jami A. C. Voss

for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

May 5, 2015 at 11:00 am

103 Ball Hall, University of Memphis

Memphis, TN


Biographical Sketch

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, Arizona State University

Bachelor of Science, Human Development & Family Studies, Arizona State University

Masters of Education, Counseling, University of Missouri

Educational Specialist, Counseling, University of Missouri

Advisory Committee

Sara K. Bridges, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research, Committee chair

Douglas Strohmer, Ph.D., Professor Chair, Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research

Elin Ovrebo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research

Nancy Nishimura, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Counseling, Educational Psychology and



Major Field of Study

Counseling Psychology

Period of Preparation: 2011 – 2015

Comprehensive Examination Passed: August, 2013

Alternative Sexual Lifestyles: An Exploration of Client Needs, Therapist Competencies, and Training


Sex is a fundamental aspect of human functioning but a topic that often involves myths, embarrassment, and silence, particularly related to alternative sexual behaviors, such as consensual paraphilias; bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism (BDSM); and polyamory. Because clients who live alternative sexual lifestyles seek mental health services, it is important for clinicians to be prepared to work with this population. This study used the Delphi method to understand the needs of these clients from the perspective of those who currently work with this population as well as the competencies and training necessary to be a kink aware professional. Professionals who have expertise in working with clients who live alternative sexual lifestyles were asked open-ended questions followed by rounds of surveys in order to establish consensus. Participants agreed that kink clients come in for unique (e.g., discrimination, stigma) and similar (e.g., depression, anxiety) presenting concerns as their non-kink peers. Therefore, therapists need to be skilled practitioners who are knowledgeable about alternative sexual lifestyles. Additionally, participants agreed that therapist cultural competency, positive attitudes, comfort with sexual topics, and knowledge of their competency limits are important for work with this population. Participants reported limited availability of training related to alternative sexual lifestyles but identified several formal and informal sources of information, such as professional conferences, readings, courses, and community events for alternative sexual lifestyles, as ways therapists can increase their competency. Limitations and future directions were also discussed.