SUPPORTING POLYAMOROUS COUPLES
Long-time polyamorous couples and long-time open marriages - I GET YOU
Not all of my clients choose open marriages, poly, or other non-monogamous commitments, but for some of my clients it is especially important to know I have eight years experience with this work. I have a masters degree and lots of professional training in this work. Not only do I personally empathize, I have the professional expertise to back it up.
Finding support who affirms non-monogamous love can be critical to supporting your long term connection.
Most of my couples come to me after having frustrating experiences with therapists who intentionally or accidentally invalidate their relationship structure- suggesting there is something wrong with their partnership if they aren't monogamous.
They're relieved to know I have experience and expertise in this field and will not judge your decision to be in an open relationship.
If you're thinking about opening your relationship...
Are you new to non-monogamy?
I also work with a lot of clients who are just beginning to consider an open relationship. Many couples question if this is the right format for their love, and I am happy to help you both decide if there is a less conventional model that might fit for you.
It can be helpful to discuss new territory with a knowledgeable and non-judgmental professional.
It's not uncommon for couples to come to my practice because one partner is interested in non-monogamy and the other is not. Let me help you determine a path that is right for both of you.
Here's a video from one of my non-monogamy focused therapist-mentors, Esther Perel:
WHAT I DON'T DO
- Add shame or judgment to your experience (there's already too much of that in the world)
- Tell you there's anything wrong with your sex-positive and/or queer, and/or non-monogamous lifestyle
- Treat mental illness, so you won't receive a diagnosis, assessment or treatment for mental health conditions
- Treat substance abuse issues, but I can refer you to several great folks who do
- Support couples who are actively violent with one another- your safety needs to come first, then our work together can begin
WHAT I DO
- Have enough knowledge and experience working with (and being in) non-monogamous relationships you won't have to educate me in our sessions
- Create a plan (with you) to change the way you do relationships
- Help you listen and communicate effectively
- Focus on and enhance your strengths
- Create a judgment-free space for you to identify your needs clearly
- Listen and empathize with what's really going on for you
- Keep momentum and hope alive even when you feel stuck
Questions from past clients who practice ethical non-monogamy:
How did you learn about this kind of relationship?
I became interested in couples work when I was in graduate school studying marriage and family therapy. I was fortunate to study in a holistic counseling program that emphasized non-traditional therapeutic styles. I was also really lucky to intern at the Gottman Relationship Research Institute when I finished school and really learn about strengthening trust in relationships.
I wrote my final research on non-monogamy in couples therapy and have only expanded my research and education since then. I left couples therapy as a professional practice in 2016 but my interest in this work continues as a relationship coach. It is my truest passion.
Are you poly/open/non-monogamous?
Yup. But I won't give you a lot of information about my relationship structure beyond that because if we're going to work together I want to keep the focus on you.
How do you maintain boundaries with a community so interconnected?
It's not uncommon for one of my clients to have some familiarity with others. But your confidentiality is of utmost importance. If there's something that feels uncomfortable we'll talk about it, but I won't be able to share information about any of my other clients, famous or not, past or present.
Your information is safe with me.
I also don't discuss my own personal connections, interests, desires, or activities with clients. If I show up at an event and a client is in attendance I will leave. I do this to maintain a professional relationship, instead of beginning a personal one (that could complicate our work together). I'd rather maintain extra distance than harm our work.
What about affairs?
Affairs happen in both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships. I work with couples to rebuild trust and overcome jealousy every week in session. I've helped hundreds of couples move forward after an affair. Read more about my work with infidelity here.