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Erotic. Painful. Punitive. These are some of the ways you might describe a good ol’ bum whooping. But therapeutic? Well, that’s the idea behind spanking therapy.

Below, two kink educators explain WTH spanking therapy entails and why people are into it.

While it always involves bum bumping, what qualifies as spanking therapy is up for debate.

For example, as sex worker and sex educator Corey More explains, spanking therapy is any BDSM spanking scene.

Because according to them, any consensual risk-aware spanking session is going to have therapeutic benefits.

Pleasure-based, queer-inclusive kink educator Lateef Taylor says that the difference between a regular spanking session and a spanking therapy scene is intention.

“Just like all therapy, for it to count as spanking therapy, you have to go into it with the intention to move through something,” they say.

Regardless of which definition you choose, spanking therapy is the use of spanking to:

  • create a sensation of release
  • explore power play and relinquishment
  • work through trauma
  • process negative emotions
  • begin to understand your full potential

“There’s a difference between slapping someone’s rear end willy-nilly and spanking therapy,” says Taylor. In other words, spanking therapy requires skill!

And it isn’t a skill you learn while training to be a licensed marriage family therapist, for instance. Spanking therapy typically doesn’t involve going to a credentialed or licensed therapist.

So who do you go to? Usually a sex worker, according to More.

“There are a plethora of incredibly skilled sex workers who specialize in BDSM, some of who do full-service work, and some of who only do spanking,” explains More.

A session with a sex worker will typically cost you $200 to $400 (per hour or scene, depending) and insurance won’t cover it (ugh).

So, if that’s not in your budget, More recommends finding a skilled spanker through FetLife, which is described as, “Facebook…. for kinky folks.”

“Just be careful and use your common sense,” says More. “Just like any social media platform or dating app, there are some great folks and some creeps.”

Social distancing protocols permitting, sex parties are another great option. To find out how to get into and where to find a sex party near you, ask your local sex shop employees they’re usually in the know.

“The best part about a sex party is you can watch someone who you want to spank you, spank someone else,” says More.

Finally, if you’re already familiar with the BDSM scene, word of mouth is a great resource! Kinksters are a gossipy group. Let a few know you’re on the hunt for some therapeutic tushy spanking, and word will spread.

Spanking has a reputation as being all about pain and punishment.

“But spanking can be incredibly erotic, freeing, and powerful when done in a controlled and consensual environment,” says More.

“When you’re feeling flattened by life, spanking therapy can be a way to remind you of the fullness of your humanity and the joy of life,” they say. “It can bring you back to your inner fire.”

So why are people into it? Because those (^) are some pretty damn powerful feels.

Depends on the spankee’s objectives!

It can provide a number of things, including:

How spanking has these effects comes down to the release of feel-good endorphins and hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine, and adrenaline.

“No,” says Taylor. “There’s an intimacy there, of course, but it isn’t necessarily sexual.”

They offer an analogy: “You don’t go see your physical therapist because you want to have sex with them. You see them for a specific kind of release.”

So even though the exact same kinds of contact and touch could be sexual in one context, during the therapy session, it’s not, they say.

Really, though, it comes down to your individual definition of “sexual” and “sex.”

Does spanking feel like sex to you? Does sex only occur if there’s genital contact? Is spanking sex if the spankee is bare-bottomed? These are questions all spankees and spankers will have to contend with themselves.

Most of the time the bum is the only part of the body spanked during a spanking therapy session. Why? Because it’s fleshy AF.

How do you spank someone’s tush? Think about each cheek as being split up into four different quadrants.

The lower, innermost quadrant is the most sensitive. This is where the spanker will aim for the greatest response.

But (!) you need to get the bottom and body a chance to warm up to the sensation first.

In fact, More says, if someone doesn’t warm up with you first, it’s a red flag to get out of dodge.

Do you use your hand or… ? “If you’re new to spanking, you should start with your hand,” says More.

As you become more advanced, you can invest in paddles, which will offer different sensations. For example, a silicone paddle = stingy, while a wood paddle = thuddy.

“The rhythm is the most important part,” says Taylor. “The speed can vary, but you want the spanker to get into some sort of rhythm.”

Actually, all sessions should, more or less, follow the same general structure.

The beginning: Scene negotiation

All good BDSM begins with communication. So before the whacking starts, chat about:

  • what you’re hoping to get out of the scene
  • any physical limitations or injuries you have
  • verbal and nonverbal safe words
  • whether you’ll be bare-bottomed or not
  • how you want the scene to end (for example, are you going for a certain number of spanks? Until a certain emotion is reached?).

“The more you communicate before the scene starts, the more likely it is that you’ll get what you want out of the scene,” says More

The middle: The spanking session

Surprise: This is where the aforementioned ~therapeutic magic~ happens.

The end: Aftercare

BDSM-speak for pillow-talk, “aftercare involves checking in with each other and sitting in mutual space as you both come down from the hormonal rush the scene can create,” says More.

(This is often known as sub-drop and top-drop).

Once more for the peeps in the back: Spanking requires skill.

And to be blunt, your boo probably doesn’t (yet) have that skill.

Taylor notes: “Just as you wouldn’t go into talk therapy with your partner [as your therapist], it’s best not to try spanking therapy with your partner.”

So, can you do it with your partner? Sure, if you’re seeking stress release or pleasure. But you both have to be willing to learn:

  • how to try spanking safely
  • how to communicate effectively
  • how to construct a scene

One of the best ways to learn? Hire a sex worker who specializes in spanking to teach you!

They’ll be able to teach you techniques, including:

  • where on the bum is safe to spank
  • how to start a spanking session
  • how to spank someone using a device like a paddle

Sex parties are also an option. Many advanced spankers will be pleased to have an opportunity to show off their skills.

You and your partner can also take a more, well, classic approach to learning:

  • Read the book “The Pleasure Mechanics Guide To Erotic Spanking” (which you can buy online),
  • watch spanking tutorials
  • attend a spanking 101 class at your local sex shop

Now that you’ve read to the bottom (heh) of this article, odds are you know whether spanking therapy is something you want to explore.

If it is, tap your local — or the global — kink community to learn more. Or check out the aforementioned books and tutorials.

Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.