Polyamorous people who have sought therapy (whether couples, family/group, or even individual) often experience challenges in locating a therapist that understands and supports polyamory as a valid relationship option. As we discussed a couple of weeks back at the International Academic Polymory Conference 2013, there are numerous prejudices around polyamorous people and relationships, including such common misconceptions as “poly people can’t commit,” “polyamory is just another word for cheating,” or “polyamory is bad for the children.”
Fortunately for those seeking poly-friendly and poly-knowledgeable therapists, there are now some good resources available. In particular, Joe Decker’s Poly Friendly Professionals site has been in operation for over a decade, and has a pretty good selection of therapists across the US, and some internationally as well. The NCSF Kink-Aware Professionals (KAP) directory is another good resource, especially for folks that are both poly and kinky (but even for poly folks who are not kinky.) Of course, the more metropolitan the area, the better the selection, but even smaller or more rural areas are starting to feature folks who have some knowledge of polyamory. (And of course I also offer phone, Skype or Google Hangout coaching anywhere in the world, or in-person in the SF Bay Area. I’m happy to set up an introductory session if you’re interested.)
There’s also a good written resource for individuals and poly groupings to take to their therapist, to help to educate them on the topic. Normally one could find it on the NCSF site, but they’ve recently reorganized, and the link seems to be temporarily broken. But I found a pdf of the document, called “What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory,” at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
Also, for those who’d like to contribute to the body of knowledge about what therapists and counselors should know about polyamory (and thereby help future people who are seeking these resources), there’s a recently announced survey from researchers Mitchell and Barger at Edgewood College:
Subject: Polyamory Survey: What Therapists Need To Know
Date: 2/27/2013 8:00:37 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
We are graduate students at Edgewood College in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. In an effort to support mental health practitioners in offering culturally competent care, we are conducting a survey to gather information about the experiences and attitudes of polyamorous people, age 18 and over, about therapists and therapy. Would you be willing to post the enclosed link:
qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_ 80O1cks9tv7xjLf and welcome message for our survey and welcome message on your Listserv, Blog, News Letter, or Website or email list?
Polyamory Survey: What Do Therapists Need to Know? If you are 18 or older and polyamorous, please take our survey: https://edgewood.us2.
qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_ 80O1cks9tv7xjLf and help us answer that question. You will be asked questions about your personal and family history, experience you may have had in therapy, views of therapy, and the qualities you see as valuable in a therapist. This information can assist therapists and educators as we work to create and enhance culturally competent models for therapy. A reason we ask for informational on personal and familial history is because without this information, damaging myths, biases, and stereotypes can arise about polyamorous people and why polyamorous people seek therapy. We are interested in presenting a realistic view of polyamorous people and supporting polyamorous people who seek therapy in getting the best quality care. Thank you! https://edgewood.us2. qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_ 80O1cks9tv7xjLf
If you have any questions or would like to contact us, we can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Atala Mitchell and Madeline Barger, MFT Clinical Interns
This project has been reviewed and endorsed by a community advisory board of the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities, a community-based research support organization which includes members of alternative sexualities communities. This project has scientific merit, follows ethical guidelines for research, and avoids community harm in its design and methods. For more information, please contact https://carasresearch.org.
Please note that there have been some issues reported on p. 3 & 4 of the survey. They were supposedly addressed, but last I heard, there were still problems, so just be aware.
Thanks to those of you who choose to participate in the survey, and good luck to all who seek counseling/therapy. And always remember:
No matter who and how many you love, no matter their gender, their body shape or size, their race or the color of their skin, their political affiliation, their talents and abilities, their spiritual or religious leanings, their education…
May you always love boldly, safely, and well,
PS: If you like the T-shirt above, you can get one like it over at Zazzle. Tell the world that your love is ok!
∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥
[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]