Kink and Flourishing Study

The first large-scale scientific exploration of healing from trauma and flourishing through kink.

Introducing the Kink and Flourishing Study

Have you ever experienced healing from trauma through kink? Has kink impacted your wellbeing? Recent research has debunked the notion that kink is inherently pathological, revealing its potential as a catalyst for trauma healing and improved mental well-being. The Kink and Flourishing Study aims to support those findings, delving into the “why,” “how,” and “how often” of flourishing and trauma healing in kink experiences. Support for this research will contribute to breaking new ground in destigmatizing and positively recognizing the role of kink in healing.


For questions or press inquiries please contact us at [email protected].

We Need Your Help to Launch the Kink and Flourishing Study!

Sexuality- and kink-related research is highly stigmatized, making traditional funding sources less reliable. TASHRA needs your help to overcome this stigma and advance the understanding of kink in the context of trauma healing and mental well-being. By supporting this research, you are not only contributing to the broader field of knowledge, but also advocating for marginalized groups, challenging stereotypes and paving the way for improved healthcare for kinky individuals.


Fundraising Details

We need $3000 for the IRB process and the project launch. The IRB is concerned with protecting the welfare, rights, and privacy of human subjects, and receiving this approval is essential for moving forward with conducting an ethical research program for the Kink and Flourishing Study.

However, funding the IRB is just the beginning. If this team receives extra funds, we will use it for publishing findings, recruiting and compensating participants, creating clinical trainings and community education events, presenting at conferences, and more!

Primary Study Goals
  • Increase knowledge about how kink experiences can influence healing from past trauma
  • Explore how kink practices can impact wellbeing
Supporting Study Goals
  • Reduce stigma, increase awareness, and inform healthcare practices
  • Create educational resources for kink communities, the public, and healthcare providers
  • Promote understanding, improved mental health support, and the recognition of kink’s healing potential

Ways to Support the Kink and Flourishing Study:

History of the Kink and Flourishing Study

This project grew out of the work of co-principal investigator Julie Lehman, a therapist in the San Francisco Bay Area with extensive experience working with the kink community. Dreaming and planning for this project began in 2022, after many conversations between Julie and Richard Sprott, the TASHRA Research Director, about how to explore these questions.

Julie’s training in AEDP (Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy), designed specifically to address recovery from trauma, inspired a focus on experiences of personal growth, self-actualization, and healing in the context of kink and BDSM. In June 2022, we formed a research team to plan a series of studies that would explore kink and flourishing. Our first step is a survey to understand the big picture:

  • How many kinky people have experienced personal growth or healing through kink?
  • Are there subgroups of kinky people who experience growth or healing more than others?
  • Under what conditions does personal growth or healing through kink happen?

As of 2024, we are fundraising now to launch the study, and we are excited to be exploring this positive side of kink!

The Kink and Flourishing Study Informed Consent document

You may download a copy of the Informed Consent document HERE:  Kink and Flourishing Study Informed Consent.

TITLE: The Kink and Flourishing Survey

SPONSOR: The Alternative Sexualities Health Research Alliance

Richard A. Sprott, Ph.D.
The Alternative Sexualities Health Research AllianceJulie Lehman, LMFT
The Alternative Sexualities Health Research Alliance

STUDY-RELATED EMAIL:  [email protected]

To start, here are some key facts about this study:

● The purpose of this study is to investigate flourishing, thriving and healing through kink activities and relationships.
● This survey may eventually be used for future scientific and healthcare purposes; for example, researchers might study what elements lead to experiences of healing.
● This study involves an internet survey that will ask you approximately xx questions. The survey should not take more than 30-60 minutes of your time.
● This study will not provide any benefits to you directly, but it may assist in broadening the scientific understanding of kink and help educate healthcare providers.
● The scientists conducting the study believe that there is virtually no risk to you in taking this survey. You can stop at any time.


Consent to Take Part in a Research Study

Welcome. We invite you to take part in a research study of kink health led by Richard Sprott, Ph.D. and Julie Lehman, LMFT at The Alternative Sexualities Health Research Alliance (TASHRA) and the research team at TASHRA.

This study was developed in conjunction with community members and academic researchers involved in TASHRA.

The purpose of the study is to investigate the physical and mental health of kink-involved people. We will ask about the experiences of healing, and the conditions that lead to an outcome of healing from past trauma; personal growth; and experiences of thriving because of kink activities and kink relationships.

You will never be identified as a participant in the research, including in any publication or presentation. There will be approximately 600+ adults participating in this study. All participants have some background in kink, and are able to complete this English-language survey.

Risks and Benefits of the Study

There is no benefit to you personally if you participate in this research study. There may be benefits to science, healthcare, and members of the kink community if the study is successful.

The risk of harm to you as a result of this study is very low, but two possible risks that we have identified are:
• a “data breach” that involves someone other than the researchers getting access to the information you provide.
• it is possible that some study questions may cause distress to some people who take the survey.

To minimize the possibility of a data breach, the study team will try to ensure that study data are always encrypted and appropriately managed so that only the researchers and services contracted to support the research, such as the company that hosts the survey questionnaires, have access to your information. These people are prohibited from disclosing any information about you personally. However, any form of communication over the internet does carry some risk of loss of confidentiality. The survey will ask about topics, such as sexual behaviors, relationship dynamics, and past trauma, and may potentially lead you to recall emotional experiences. If you choose to participate in the survey you can skip and not answer any question that makes you uncomfortable, or that you do not wish to answer for any reason.


Who can I contact if I have questions about this study?

If you have any questions, concerns, or complaints about the research project, or think you have experienced emotional distress from being this study, you can contact Richard Sprott at [email protected], [email protected], or phone 510-919-4488.

If you have any questions about your rights as a research subject or complaints regarding this research study, or you are unable to reach the research staff, you may contact a person independent of the research team at the Biomedical Research Alliance of New York Institutional Review Board at 516-318-6877. Questions, concerns or complaints about research can also be registered with the Biomedical Research Alliance of New York Institutional Review Board at The IRB is a committee that reviews research studies to help protect the rights and welfare of study subjects.


You will not be paid for being in this study.


Providing Your Consent

Please note that your participation in this study is voluntary. Your refusal to participate will involve no penalty or loss of benefits to which you are otherwise entitled, and you may discontinue participation at any time without penalty or loss of benefits to which you are otherwise entitled. Your alternative is to not participate in this study. If you are currently in a power / authority exchange relationship, by signing you also confirm that you participate freely without any pressure or command from your Master / Mistress, Dominant, or other person who you have given authority to in a power-exchange relationship.

A description of this clinical trial will be available on, as required by U.S. Law. This Web site will not include information that can identify you. At most, the Web site will include a summary of the results. You can search this Web site at any time.

Information that you provide may be reviewed by the research sponsor and people who work with the sponsor. It may also be reviewed by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) responsible for oversight of this study, to ensure that the rights of subjects are protected. We may publish the results of this research. However, we will keep your name and other identifying information confidential. We protect your information from disclosure to others to the extent required by law. We cannot promise complete secrecy.


Great question. To launch this study, we first need to submit the proposal to an Institutional Review Board (IRB), which will ensure that our study meets all ethical standards of human protection in scientific research. Donations will go towards funding the submission and revision process of the IRB.

However, funding the IRB is just the beginning. If this team receives extra funds, we will use it for publishing findings, recruiting and compensating participants, creating clinical trainings and community education events, presenting at conferences, and more!

When the study launches, you will be eligible for this study if you . . .

  • Have engaged in kink behaviors or fantasies
  • Are of adult age where you live
  • Can complete a survey written in English

Yes! When you donate on GoFundMe, you can elect to hide your personal details. You can also manage these settings after you make your donation.

For general study questions, please reach out to the study email: [email protected]. To get in direct contact with the researchers, please contact Richard Sprott ([email protected]) or Julie Lehman ([email protected]).

Donate today to support research on kink and trauma healing—every penny counts!

Kink and Flourishing – Stay in Touch!

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