What is Sex Work and How do I Support a Sex Working Client Workshop with Jay McCarthy

What is sex work? Why do people do sex work? What experiences might sex workers...

Last updated 10 July 2024

What is sex work? Why do people do sex work?

What experiences might sex workers have faced when seeking mental health support? How does sex work affect mental health?

How do I navigate supporting a sex working client? Where does their work fit in my paradigm of health and growth?

This three part session begins with ‘Sex Work 101’, giving you a firm foundation in what sex work is and why different people might do sex work. It looks at sex work and the law, familiarising you with concepts such as the ‘Nordic Model’ and ‘decriminalisation’.

We will then go on to look at sex work from the counselling perspective, exploring studies into sex worker mental health and sex worker experiences of counselling. One excellent paper outlines what sex workers seek from counsellors, and we will imagine ways to meet these needs in our practice.

Finally there will be a chance for you to ask the difficult questions you might have around sex work. Discuss the barriers you might face in providing sex worker affirming counselling. Share resources for supporting sex working clients. This interactive part of the session does not require cameras – please engage in a way that feels comfortable and accessible for you.

Learning Objective Participants Can Expect From This Event

  • A greater understanding of what sex work is (and isn’t).
  • Guidance on how to counsel sex workers.
  • A chance to reflect on our own attitudes and beliefs surrounding sex work.

Who is This Workshop Appropriate For?

  • Any practitioner who may come across a sex working client (that means all counsellors, psychotherapists, mental health professionals, coaches etc – as any of us could have and probably have had a sex working client!)

How May This Workshop Impact Your Practice?

  • Participants will be more culturally competent when working with sex working clients.


Jay McCarthy

My name is Jay McCarthy and I have been working as a counsellor since 2017. I gained an MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice from the University of Nottingham in 2023. I am an accredited member with the NCPS.

I am passionate about providing inclusive and accessible counselling. Many people find themselves let down by mental health services and not knowing where to turn. I specialise in working with individuals with diagnoses and experiences that may have been a barrier to treatment in other settings (such as BPD, ADHD, autism, learning disabilities and histories of trauma). I also work with those whose identities or ways of life may have been discriminated against in other settings (such as those who are trans/non-binary, kinky, polyamorous, asexual, or sex workers).

I have previously worked as a counsellor for various organisations, including RoSA (a charity working with survivors of rape and sexual abuse), the Human Flourishing Project, and Trentside Medical Group.

I provide training on working with Gender, Sexuality and Relationship Diverse (GSRD) clients. I have previously delivered seminars for the University of Nottingham and at the Person Centred Association’s 2023 GSRD Conference. I will be co-presenting research on Autistic Authenticity at the BACP Research Conference in May 2024.