Counseling for Sex Workers

You Shouldn't Have to Educate your Therapist

You may seek counseling for concerns related or unrelated to your work. Either way, your work is a part of your life. You don’t want to have to educate therapists who have implicit biases or don't understand you. Sex work is one of the oldest professions and was considered sacred in ancient Greece. And while this is a multibillion-dollar industry which employs countless people of all different genders, races, and backgrounds there is little to no advocacy for this population. While other countries recognize the humanity of sex workers by legalizing, taxing, and taking care of the health of people in this industry, our policies in the U.S. mostly serve to make life more difficult for these individuals- most of whom are women.

Sex Work vs. Human Trafficking

When people hear that you are a sex worker their mind can immediately think about the dangers of human trafficking. What most people don't realize is that like any profession there is so much variation in one working environment to the next and the key difference here is coercion and consent. People forced into any work against there will be it sex work, factory production or simply a job that they truly do not enjoy are not accurate representations of the trade. Human trafficking preys on vulnerable individuals and forces them into a lifestyle and work environment that is non-consensual, dangerous, and detrimental to the person's well being. Sex work, on the other hand, is practiced by people who enjoy their work, do so from a place of empowerment and pleasure. Many sex workers report feeling like they are providing meaningful and important services while enjoying an entrepreneurial lifestyle that allows them to pursue other interests, make their own schedule, and thrive financially. Many sex workers are putting themselves through college, providing for their families, or simply enjoy their line of work. It is important not to assume that sex workers need or want to be "saved". There are countless thriving sex worker communities that are founded on consent, empowerment, and have no overlap with the tragedy that is human trafficking. It is important to understand these differences and not rely on sex workers to educate us, while simultaneously having to be subjected to our unwarranted judgments and stigma.  

Sex Work in the Digital Age

The digital age in the United States has led to a diversification in the practices of sex work and formation of their respective subcultures. Whereas sex work used to be something which happened between individuals in-person, now we are seeing a boom in the online pornography industry, and other forms of internet-based sex work, such as webcamming, sugar babies/daddies forums, seeking arrangement websites (escorting), professional cuddling services, partner surrogacy, and BDSM work (dominatrix). All these involve the exchange of money for services involving sex, intimacy, or partnership. Sex work offers a variety of purchasable experiences involving intimacy which do not involve sex, such as dating (sugar dating), professional cuddling, stripping, or the enactment of fetishes that do not always involve genital contact. The internet serves as a very important tool for sex workers in the 21st century to pre-screen their clients and access support and community beyond state lines. It is important not to assume that one sex worker's experience represents the next. There is so much diversity within this community and everyone has different boundaries according to their services. 

Some Areas we Might work on Together Include:

  • Creating strength and stability, and prioritizing self-care

  • Managing the misplaced stigma/bias of a partner or relatives

  • Getting in touch with your worth and value

  • Understanding what your work means to you

  • Planning for the future both professionally and financially

  • Working through the projections and fear your partner might have about your work


Click Here  to read one of my papers:

"From Sacred Sex Temples to Whoring: The Historic Evolution of Sex-work"

_Sophia L. O'Connor

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