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We are excited to host

Heather M Garner

(she/her)

Profile Details

This might surprise you, but I didn’t always want to be a sex therapist when I was growing up.  I actually wanted to be a dolphin trainer.  When that didn’t pan out, I found my career path as a social worker by volunteering for the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Baltimore, then went on to work with traumatized kids at Johns Hopkins Bayview. I found that work to be much more meaningful than my original career choice, so I stuck with it.  In graduate school, I realized that I wanted to be a therapist, so I expanded my experience and education to make that happen.


I’m Heather M. Garner. Since 2011, I’ve worked in my own practice, Garnering Change Psychotherapy, in Towson, Maryland.   What I’ve found is that the reason most people come to therapy is grief and loss.  It may disguise itself as another problem, but grief and loss are usually behind the issues we encounter in life.  These days, I work as a sex therapist with two main areas of focus; consensually non-monogamous, and kink-identified individuals and partners.


In the kink community, it is often difficult for members to find a therapist who will not make their lifestyle choices an issue when it is not one. I maintain my practice as a sex-positive, affirming mental health practice dedicated to intimate relationships and sexual health.  I ensure that my associates are like-minded therapists who create a comfortable environment for those who identify as part of the kink and consensually non-monogamous community.


I help foster healthy relationships in kink and help explore better ways to maintain open relationships.  We’re better as a society than we were in the past about kink and polyamory, but we still have a way to go.  People continue to experience discrimination, judgment, and persecution for having a non-traditional view of sex. The stigma remains.  In addition to seeing patients in my office, I am also a speaker at local kink community and group events.  I’m a firm believer in educating mental health professionals in this area and often facilitate training sessions and supervision.


The intersection of mental health, kink, and polyamory mirrors the intersection of art and science when it comes to therapy.  The science is easy to teach people.  The art, empathy, intuition… are all there to be developed in certain people.  Figuring out how to do the work has to combine skills, knowledge, experience, and innate gifts.


I’m a straight shooter with an engaging sense of humor. I’ve done many different things in my career as a mental health professional, and I’m ready to do more. Outside of work, I have many interests.  I love spending time with my partner, my “little person,” and our two lab-mix rescues, Manny and Dante.  I love traveling and have a deep appreciation for architecture.  I love creating….food, painting and restoring furnature, and photography.  I love drive-in movies and hate modern art, in case you’re wondering about that.




Who will be presenting:

After the Uncollaring: Surviving the End of a Power-Exchange Relationship - Part 1

Class Description

Part 1 of 2:

Among the scene negotiations, establishing rules, protocols, and rituals, and discussions around collaring, one of the most important aspects of the committed power-exchange relationships is often neglected: the ending. In this interactive workshop, Heather M. Garner, LCSW-C tackles the less sexy D/s topic of recovering from the loss of a committed relationship. In part one of this two-part workshop, Heather will lead participants on a journey to encourage participants to reconsider many of the things they think they already know about grief. Participants will examine how grief and loss are addressed (nor not addressed) in broader American culture. Heather will provide an overview of the fundamentals of grief, including common responses to loss. The ethical considerations around ending a power-exchange relationship will be explored, such as how to handle it on social media.


Support Heather & Thrive

Thank you for your interest and your support of THRIVE! Because THRIVE is 100% free and not accepting donations, we ask that you pay it forward by donating to our speakers. 

Heather Garner accepts support through buymeacoffee.com/?via=kinktherapist.
If you enjoyed Heather Garner, you can visit her at garneringchange.net, check out her Instagram (@garnering_change), and reach her via email, heather@garneringchange.net

If you would like to support THRIVE’s efforts, consider picking up THRIVE swag at https://www.redbubble.com/people/DevynStone/


After the Uncollaring: Surviving the End of a Power-Exchange Relationship - Part 2

Class Description

Part 2 of 2:

In part two of this two-part workshop, Heather will lead participants in a discussion about the importance of having an "uncollaring talk" before the commitment of collaring, providing concrete discussion points for having this conversation with your partner(s). Participants will explore ways to manage the ending of a committed power-exchange relationship when it is less than amicable. The workshop will conclude with a discussion on recovering and flourishing after an ending.


Support Heather & Thrive

Thank you for your interest and your support of THRIVE! Because THRIVE is 100% free and not accepting donations, we ask that you pay it forward by donating to our speakers. 

Heather Garner accepts support through buymeacoffee.com/?via=kinktherapist.
If you enjoyed Heather Garner, you can visit her at garneringchange.net, check out her Instagram (@garnering_change), and reach her via email, heather@garneringchange.net.

If you would like to support THRIVE’s efforts, consider picking up THRIVE swag at https://www.redbubble.com/people/DevynStone/