Therapist Dating & Sexing in the Modern Age


As therapist who identifies as non-monogamous/polyamorous, and I guess you could call me a bit of an ethical slut (thanks Dossie),  I am very interested in how we manage our professional boundaries and ensure we hold the therapeutic frame, when there can be eroticised feelings bouncing off our consulting room walls and at the same time conducting out personal lives respectfully and appropriately.

It is our duty as therapists to maintain professional and ethical boundaries.  To act as Boundary Riders, tending the fences which make the therapeutic frame.  But being a therapist does not mean we ought to sacrifice our sexuality and become celibate.  I think maintaining a healthy sexuality and relational life  is an essential part of being able to be to serve my community and my clients. Knowing that those personal needs are being attended to outside of the therapy room.

Grindr and its ilk has changed the way we date and meet romantic and sexual partners.  Grindr has only been around for seven years and yet pretty much every gay man I know has had a profile on it, (often deleted and reinstalled).  Love it or hate it, geolocation social networking apps have altered the landscape for how we engage with each other.  Of course, it is not just gay men who use these apps, and there are many gay men who don’t use them at all. But fact is, they are there, and they impact the way we meet and conduct ourselves and there is very little guidance yet on how best to manage their impact.

The instant log-in and nearest proximity, and ability to search for people by various sexual preferences across a range of different apps (many with special interests) and chat to other guys is a huge improvement on standing in a draughty bar drinking on a wintery Saturday night before catching the bus/tube home.

However, there are many challenges which concern me and which aren’t being discussed (there are no journal articles I’ve been able to find on the subject).  It’s also my experience that my peers aren’t discussing this issue either.  There is a shroud of secrecy surrounding how we conduct ourselves on apps.  We may acknowledge using them, but the details of how… ‘no comment.’

So far, our professional bodies have given very little guidance on how we should be using these apps and so I think in the meantime, we need to be thinking about this ourselves.

The situation is even more acute for the gay/bi male staff working in sexual health clinics in Central London where they scores of gay men every day and then after work, go online where they may run across people who have been patients earlier that day.

So I’m undertaking a Survey Monkey to gather more information and conducting a brief piece of research which I will present at our Pink Therapy conference next year and hope to get something into the therapy literature to help other therapists.

Dominic Davies
22 August 2016

A study of app use among Gay/Bi Male Therapists & Health Care Workers


We would like to invite you to participate in a research study being carried out by Pink Therapy investigating app use among Gay/Bi Male Therapists & Health Care Workers.  You should only participate if you want to; choosing not to take part will not disadvantage you in any way. Before you decide whether you want to take part, it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what your participation will involve.  Please take time to read the following information carefully and discuss it with others if you wish.  Ask us if there is anything that is not clear or if you would like more information.

What are the aims of the research?

We’re aware there is a huge lack of guidance being given to gay/bi male health care professionals about how to manage the changing face of dating and meeting other guys whilst at the same time managing the ethical boundaries inherent in being able to provide high quality professional care to our community.  We want to understand more about how people who use the apps do so, and the kind of challenges they face.  This first phase of the research is to gather some general information.  We hope later to be able to undertake some more detailed interviews.

Who is being asked to take part?

We are inviting all gay/bi men who have experience of using sex/dating apps and who work as therapists or healthcare professionals to take part in this study.  This includes counsellors, psychotherapists, counselling psychologists, etc, as well as health care workers such as medical doctors, registered nurses, sexual health advisors, peer volunteers, health care assistants, etc. 

What will happen if I agree to take part?

If you agree to take part, you will be asked to complete an online, anonymous survey that should take approximately 15 minutes to fill out.  We will ask all participants who complete the survey to provide a name, contact number, and email address if you are interested in taking part in a follow-up interview.  However, it is not compulsory to do so. 

What are the benefits for me if I choose to participate?

We cannot guarantee that there are any benefits to you personally from volunteering to complete the online survey, although you may find it helpful to think about your experiences and reflect on them in supervision.  The information you provide will be used to help us think about the training needs of therapists and healthcare workers.  You will be making a valuable contribution to an under-researched area in the healthcare professions. 

What are the possible risks for me if I choose to participate?

We are not aware of any risks of taking part in this research study. 

Will my taking part in this study be kept confidential?

All information you provide will be kept strictly confidential.   No identifying information is required for those completing the online survey.  The information you provide will be used for data analysis.  The results from this study may be published, however you will not be personally identified in any literature.  The information you provide will be accessed only by members of the research team for the purpose of this study, and will not be shared with any other parties.  The only exception to this would be any information you give us which could indicate that you or somebody else is at risk of harm or any evidence of negligence or malpractice in your work.  We do not consider this likely, and unless the situation requires immediate action, we would inform you and involve you in our response.

Should you be interested in participating in a follow-up interview after completing the survey, we will ask you to provide your name, contact number, and email address to enable us to get in touch with you.  This information will be kept strictly confidential and will be separated from the data provided in your online survey answers.  As the follow-up interviews represent a different phase of the overall research project and are not a requirement of participation, a separate Participant Information Sheet will be provided to those taking part at a later stage. 

Who is organising this research?

This project is being carried out by Dominic Davies, Fellow BACP, MNCP Accred. FNCS, and Director of Pink Therapy – the UK’s largest independent therapy organisation working with gender and sexual diversity clients.  The research is being conducted in line with the Ethical Guidelines for Researching Counselling and Psychotherapy, as well at the Ethical Guidelines for the Counselling Profession, both of which are published by the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP). 

Do I have to participate in this study?

Participation in this study is entirely voluntary and you can withdraw at any time, without giving reason for doing so.  Please be aware that it is not normally possible for us to identify survey responses since no identifying information is used for the phase of the study.  Therefore, any data you supply may still be used by the research team for the purposes of analysis and publication. 

Further Information

If you have any questions or require more information about this study, please contact Dominc Davies –

If you have any concerns about this study or feel it has harmed you in any way, you can contact Professor Darren Langdridge

Click here to undertake the survey