So You Want to Hire an Intimacy Professional… Here are Some Things to Help you Find the Right Person

Jul 03, 2023

By Lauren Kiele DeLeon

The time has come! Your company/organization has decided on a production with a good amount of simulated sex and/or nudity and you’ve realized that you need an intimacy professional’s help. Great! That’s the first step! But, turns out, you’ve never had to hire an intimacy professional before. How are you going to find the elusive Intimacy Professional? And, once you do, how will you know if they’re qualified and the right fit for the job? 

Here are some helpful questions to ask during the process and ways to assess the answer to find and hire an Intimacy Professional for your steamy show!

What Intimacy Training do they have?

This can take many forms. Some people may have certification and others may not – both are fine! What matters is that the person is qualified. 

Intimacy is a specialized and high-risk discipline, so we recommend that the person you hire has plenty of training, and both in-person and online is ideal. For reference, our certification program requires over 100 hours of training. 

Qualification may also look like a lot of training from a variety of organizations as well as related skill sets in disciplines like movement, trauma stewardship, and mental health! You will want to check for things like the number of training hours, whether that was in person or online, diversity of classes taken, and which organizations they have trained with.

Pro tip: If you have specific needs for your production, like a Kink/BDSM scene, you may want an IP who has taken courses in that specific area or to consider bringing in a consultant who specializes in that work!


What supplemental additional training have they taken?

On top of intimacy specific training, you want to see if this professional is well versed in areas of EDI, accessibility, gender/sexuality, trauma-informed practices, Mental Health First Aid, bystander intervention, and more! All of these additional training are what make a well rounded Intimacy Professional. Intimacy work goes much deeper than just being able to choreograph a steamy scene! There are multiple ways to have gotten this training, as well, that can range from in person or online courses, books, independent study, etc. Making sure the IP you hire is able to provide you with a list of those trainings will help support your decision in bringing them on or not!

At IDC we require our certified professionals to have completed a specific number of self-study hours in:

  • Mental Health First Aid, Trauma Stewardship, or related training

  • Allyship and Advocacy

  • Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Training

  • Anti-Harassment/ Anti-Sexual Harassment Training

  • Mediation or Conflict Resolution Training

  • Bystander Intervention

  • Anti-Racism/EDI training


What kind of intimacy work do they do?

This may feel more simple but is still an important factor! If you’re working in TV/Film then you’ll be looking for an “Intimacy Coordinator” while if you’re working in Live Performance/Theatre you’ll be looking for an “Intimacy Director.” And sometimes you’ll come across an Intimacy Professional who does both! 

Making sure you have someone with the right training for your needs is important – Intimacy Direction and Coordination are very different practices! There is nuance to each practice and having a professional with that specific knowledge base will help your production thrive!

Do they have past experience working professionally?

Now this one can be tricky. Because intimacy work is so new, relevant work experience may not always show up with “intimacy director” or “intimacy coordinator” as the credited title – this means that they likely weren’t credited with that title despite doing the work and may have been given a different title or left off billing altogether. Looking at whether this person has a history of working as an intimacy professional, or working closely with intimate material, will help you decide if they’re the right fit. Do they list multiple shows that they’ve worked on on their resume? If they haven’t, do they have enough training that you feel confident giving them their first shot/does the show you’re working on need someone more experienced? 

A great way to help make the decision about whether past experience working professionally matters is based on the type of intimacy your production calls for! Perhaps you have a single kiss and embrace, then giving a first time professional the chance to work is great! However, if you have a full simulated sex act with partial nudity,  we would recommend having a more seasoned Intimacy Professional who is confident in the work.

With scenes that involve a high level of intimate content (like the example above), it can sometimes actually create a LESS safe working environment to bring in an individual without the necessary experience and tools than to work without an intimacy professional at all. While that may sound counterintuitive at first, it can be useful to compare it to other specialities within the entertainment community. For example, if a play tells the story of characters in a circus and the production brings in an aerialist coach who is inexperienced and unqualified, the actors may actually be more likely to get hurt by following the direction of that individual; whereas if there was no aerialist coach in the room, the team might collectively decided represent the scene in a less literal or find another creative solution to the storytelling in a way that works within the boundaries of the performers.

How does the IP personally identify?

For your production, is the identity of the characters involved in the intimacy a key part of the intimacy? If so, do you need an Intimacy Professional who also shares that lived experience to best portray the story? For example, are you telling the story of two non able-bodied individuals? Then perhaps your story would be best served by someone who is able to understand the mobility needs of those characters/actors! Perhaps you’re telling a specific story of queer, Black love that’s a central theme in the show. Then, maybe, an Intimacy Professional with that identity would be the best choice for the show!

On the flip side, maybe your show’s intimacy is more comedic or less nuanced and you are looking for someone whose identity is less important for the content. That’s also great! If you’re working on something where identity is a central theme for the intimacy you may want to bring in someone who will relate more closely to the actors/characters! The answer is always, it depends…

Okay great, I know all this… But where can I even find an Intimacy Professional???

We’re so happy you’ve asked! Finding an IP can be a difficult task, many people know they need one but have no idea where to look. Need some ideas?

IDC has a fantastic online registry of all IP’s who have completed or are in the final level of our certification program. This is a great place to start as you can filter by location, TV/Film or Live Performance, and more!

Looking for someone else? Reach out to your community! Many people know of others who do this work and can easily reference candidates for you! Even the professionals on IDC’s list may have some other people to connect you with. 


In Conclusion…

Finding and vetting an Intimacy Professional can feel like a daunting task if you don’t know where to look or how to start. By familiarizing yourself with what makes a good intimacy professional, you’ll be able to ask the right questions and judge the answers with honesty and integrity so that you end up with a confident, competent professional for your production! We recognize with the rise in popularity of this field there is a large array of potential candidates – making sure you’re taking the right steps in your hiring process will help the sustainability of this field as well as the safety of your cast and crew.

Still uncertain? Feel free to ask your questions and comments in the Consent Studio and we’ll be happy to help you out!

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