10 Reasons You and Your Clients Need To Know About ‘The Wheel of Consent’

CICS Tutor and Psychosexual Therapist Nicola Foster explains why we all need to learn the Wheel of Consent

Dr Betty Martin’s ‘Wheel of Consent’ is a cutting edge model of consent that takes us beyond the surface level concept of consent being a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

The work was developed by Dr Betty based on exchanges of touch and is equally powerful for understanding non-touch dynamics.

It distinguishes between the ‘doing’ aspect of an interaction - who is doing; and the ‘gift’ aspect - who it is for. This creates four dynamics or quadrants of experience, Giving, Receiving, Taking and Allowing. These dynamics occur all the time in human relating and are of particular importance when we interact physically.  

The Wheel is also an embodied practice, which uses breath and awareness to help develop more noticing of our feelings and body sensations.

Here are our Top 10 examples how the Wheel can be used with therapy clients.

The Wheel of Consent supports couples and multiples to:

1. Discuss individual preferences and differences in sexuality and pleasure with more confidence and ease.

2. Overcome stalemate when facing a mis-match in desire. This is particularly helpful when negotiating sexual relationships in which a person has a kink that their partner(s) don’t share or where one partner is a-sexual.

3. Discover new aspects of sexual dynamics in relationships. The Wheel invites couples to explore all four dimensions of Giving, Receiving, Taking and Allowing in full consent.

4. Identify abusive behaviours and attitudes in relationship – aspects of relating that are outside of the Wheel of Consent.

The Wheel of Consent supports individuals to:

5. Reconnect with their wants and needs. To be able to ask for what they want, need, desire or enjoy. Or being able to say what they don’t want or enjoy.

6. Challenge patterns of pleasing others or crossing over their own boundaries. To safely practice articulating their ‘no’.

7. Gain greater access to somatic body awareness, becoming more able to discern when the body has a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ to something and gaining more sensitivity to this feedback.

The Wheel of Consent supports therapists to:

8. Gain greater awareness of the cultural and social power dynamics that operate in a therapy relationship or session, thereby developing more awareness of shadows and blind-spots.

9. Facilitate discussions and agreements between clients to resolve mis-matched desire in relationships and to identify consent breaches and intimate partner abuses.

10. Sharpen professional consent and boundaries skills.

You may be surprised after learning about these dynamics how much of the world we live in happens non-consensually and be part of helping to change that.

Join us in Cambridge on 30th November to learn this invaluable model. Learn more here.

IMPORTANT: You do not have to touch or be touched by anyone else to take part in this workshop.

Blog Post written by:
Julie Sale
CICS Course Director and Psychosexual Psychotherapist