SUPPORTING POLYAMOROUS RELATIONSHIPS
Long-time polyamorous relationships 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 professional experience with non-monogamous relationships of all kinds.
Not only do I personally empathize, I have the professional expertise to back it up. I have a masters degree and lots of professional training in this area. I wrote my thesis on it (iif that matters to you).
Finding support who affirms non-monogamous love can be critical to supporting your long term connection.
Most of my clients 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.
Listen to my talk from PechaKucha, December 12, 2017 on why default monogamy is a huge problem for relationships.
Check out this video from one of my non-monogamy focused therapist-mentors, Esther Perel to get an idea of my thoughts on relationships.
WHAT I DON'T DO
- Sit and nod - instead, we'll take action (I've been described as "direct and not-coddling")
- Add shame or judgment to your experience (there's already too much of that in the world)
- Assume your experience is the same as anyone else's
- Believe either monogamy or non-monogamy is healthier, natural or inherently better than the other
- Pathologize you (I don't treat mental illness, so you won't receive a diagnosis, assessment or treatment for mental health conditions or substance use)
- 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
- Understand the unique dynamics and issues that arise for long-term non-monogamous couples and triads
- Use a strengths-based approach to help you grow in a positive direction
- Follow a sex-positive kink-knowledgeable framework and draw from extensive experience as a sex educator
- Develop an personalized plan to change stuck relationship patterns
- Help you listen, build trust and communicate effectively with yourself and those you love
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.
Do you work with triads? What about groups and poly-cules?
I have worked with many triad relationship structures in the past and yes, I support lots of multi-person group relationships. However, it is very challenging to track dynamics for more than three clients at one time so I typically see larger groups in dyads. I'm happy to talk with you about what meeting structure will best support the whole of your relationship.
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 in polyamorous relationships?
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.
I can help you revise communication patterns and ignite desire no matter your relationship structure.
I often recommend the following books to clients in long-term relationships. Click the image to order a copy.
Note: most of these focus on monogamy, but the tools and skills can be applied in each pair/duo in your relationship group.
Read something great? I'm always looking for suggestions. Send your book recommendations to email@example.com.