polyamory coach

How to Spot a Relationship Expert

relationship expert open relationship coach polyamory coach nonmonogamy

GAH! Here I am trying to eat between sessions and I run into yet another set of terrible relationship advice by some online "expert!"

Folks giving out awful advice and opinions abound online, here's what you need to know to find someone who can actually help you.

BOUNDARIES

When you're seeking advice consider the source.  If you want ongoing support for your relationship you need someone who understands clear boundaries, expectations, and communication.  If they can't do it in a professional setting, be sure they can't help you learn to do it in a personal one.

Find someone with clear professional guidelines they follow. This helps them be sure they can support you without getting tangled up in your (or their own) shit.  

I outline my boundaries on my website, in contracts, in initial sessions, screening calls, and by following the ethics codes of two professional organizations.  If you're hoping to work with someone ask them about the boundaries of their work.

EXPERIENCE

Find someone with lived and professional experience related to whatever topics you want to focus on.  Lived experience helps them have empathy and deeper understanding.  Of course, if they have solid boundaries they're not going to use your time to go into great detail about their own stuff- but you can ask if they've experienced similar struggles.  

At the same time be sure they don't ONLY have personal life experience, but also PROFESSIONAL experience to back up their work.  There are far too many opinionated "experts" who just want to teach you the way they do relationships who don't actually know what they're talking about, or how to help you. Hire someone trained. 

You can ask them about their experience- or better yet, ask them how many folks they've supported (professionally) who are working on the stuff you want to focus on.  If they haven't had much experience hire someone else, you're not here to train them.

EDUCATION

Lived and professional experience is critical, but they are two of three critical pieces of this work. You also want someone who has studied or read a few things to back up whatever they're selling you.  Ask them what books, teachers, research, and training they draw from when they work with people.  Be sure you hire someone who knows what's up.

PROOF

Ask to see proof their work actually, well, works.  Do they have testimonials or data that shows they're good at what they're doing?  You don't want to hire someone who over-promises in an inauthentic program, but you need to know what to expect.  Ask how they measure success in their work.

NON-JUDGMENT

Finally (but probably most importantly) it is essential you find a professional who takes a non-judgmental approach.  Far too many therapists, coaches, and healers come to the table with their own biased agendas that will compete with your needs.

Are they pushing non-monogamy? Do they believe monogamy is the best path? Are they really shame-free about sexuality? If they've got hang-ups in these areas they're going to carry over into your work.

If you can't say things to them for fear of judgment, shame, or criticism, please please please hire someone who can set all of that aside and meet you with clear presence.

Thanks for reading through my rant.  I get protective of my clients and see far too many people who've had negative experiences with couples therapists, marriage counselors, and sex educators along the way.  It's super risky to reach out for help- I hope this helps you discern a solid fit for your vulnerability work.


Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

gina senarighi polyamory coach open relationship coach
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • shift stuck communication & codependent relationship patterns

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online and in Portland, Oregon. 

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Polyamory Advice: How to Find Professional Support

poly therapist polyamory couples counseling nonmonogamy open marriage therapist polyamory coach 

Ask me anything is a relationship advice column written by Gina Senarighi, a couples therapist turned retreat leader who offers online support for non-traditional relationships of all flavors.  

Submit your Ask Me Anything question right here or read more Ask Me Anything here.


THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: WHERE CAN WE FIND PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT?

 

From my inbox:

What would be your recommendations for attempting to find a similar practice locally to (STATE NAME) state? I'm in (PLACE NAME) so odds are if anything is at least as far as (CITY), a 1 hour drive. But I am sure you get this question a lot.

Me and my fiance are starting poly and I know I am a human so I will hurt her feelings, eventually. I just want to look up all the options to setup a healthy and timely recovery system. I know I need strong communication skills and that's another thing I want to work on.

 

From my sent box:

Thanks for reaching out!  I see far too many people dive into non-monogamy after a lifetime of monogamy without setting clear intentions, expectations, and boundaries or cultivating necessary communication skills.  I often wish more people were proactive.

I don't know of anyone doing this work locally for you, but I actually have other clients in your area, and we've worked together three months without issue.  If you're at all interested in relationship coaching via FaceTime I am happy to support you.  

If you want to find a couples therapist or coach in your area I would recommend contacting them via Psychology Today or the International Coaching Federation and asking four screening questions:

1) How many polyamorous, open, or otherwise ethically non-monogamous couples have you worked with in the past?

2) What professional training do you have to support your work with consensually non-monogamous couples?

3) What personal beliefs do you hold about the health and wellbeing of non-monogamous couples that might impact our work together?  

4) Do you have any lived experience in consensual non-monogamy?

One other thing I can recommend is looking into Nonviolent Communication (NVC) training in your area.  It is NOT the same as therapy or coaching for you as a couple (I would recommend both) and while it's not specifically designed just for non-monogamous folks, NVC has helped polyamorous couples communicate effectively across/through challenging emotions for decades.  I strongly recommend finding a training or practice group now to start developing those communication skills.

As far as the hurt that will happen- that part is well within your control.  If you start working on things with a trained professional before you start practicing poly (building emotional or physical intimacy with other people) you can avoid most potential hurt and misunderstanding.  Communication skill development is essential for both of you.  

I hope that's helpful.  Please schedule a free consultation if you'd like to talk about working together.  I'm happy to support you.  

Warmly, Gina

 


polyamory coach | polyamory advice | open marriage therapist

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a retired couples therapist, sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and keeping non-traditional relationships healthy and vibrant.  

She can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move past jealousy, insecurity or codependecy
  • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnection
  • break stale or unhealthy communication patterns 

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).

 

Integrity-Check Your Relationship

polyamory therapist online couples therapy relationship coach

I had the sweetest pleasure today of talking with a group of students at PCC Southeast campus Queer Resource Center during their Sexual Assault Awareness Month programming.  

We spent a couple hours talking about healthy queer relationships, boundaries, and communication through stress.  

It was a lot of fun.  

Students asked great questions about long-term relationships, introverts/internal processors and extroverts/external processors, and issues for transgender folks in marriages.  We covered shame, self-worth, and most of all how to show someone you really love them. 

I mean it, I love talking about love.  Especially with young people.

I walked them through a tool that can be transformative at any stage in a relationship.  It's a simple but profound integrity check for your relationship.  

Integrity-checking is important because it brings back alignment between what we say we want and how we get there.  All too often distance grows between us when we start moving away from our core.

Most couples get out of alignment after they've been together a while.  With just a little self-awareness and personal accountability you can be back on track for better connection.   

This super simple tool will help you identify if you need an adjustment and action steps to bring you back to center.  

If you want to download the guide I gave them for your own relationship integrity-check add your contact info below and I'll send you a copy.  


Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:   rediscover passion in long-term relationships  repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty  move beyond jealousy, insecurity or codependency  resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect  break unhealthy communication patterns   open your relationship and practice polyamory with care  Call me for a  free consultation  to rethink your relationship.      Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, insecurity or codependency
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
  • break unhealthy communication patterns 
  • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care

Call me for a free consultation to rethink your relationship.

 

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.