These days with the number of polyamorous relationships rising, therapists are starting to realize that they need to be more understanding, inclusive, and sensitive to their client’s needs. There’s an unfortunate stigma out there for those in these relationships, and finding therapists who will help give quality care can be difficult.
Therapy for the Polyamorous
Polyamorous individuals are marginalized in our society and don’t receive the quality of care that they should either due to bias, misunderstanding, or lack of sensitivity on the therapist’s part. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t therapists out there who have the skills, know-how, and compassion to treat people in these relationships.
Issues that usually plague polyamorous relationships encompass jealousy, boundary navigation, communication, feelings of neglect or inadequacy, or anything having to do with safe sex practices. These aren’t uncommon for a therapist to juggle with helping clients develop coping patterns or using therapies to overcome them.
Finding therapists who can do this can be difficult if one doesn’t know where to look, so we’ve compiled a few resources.
Facebook – with this inclusive, San Francisco based group on Facebook, members from all around the world can find support. They even have potlucks for members once a month in the San Francisco Bay Area for those that would like to meetup.
Meetup – This is a great place to look for support groups as you’ll find quite a few here that are local to your area if you decide to give it a look. While this isn’t therapy, having support from like-minded people is always a good thing. Usually, Meetup groups will require that someone verifies you to keep their members safe.
AASECT – The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists is a fantastic place to find therapists who have trained specifically in specific topics ranging from polyamory to alternative therapy. Most therapists on this site are well educated and have a complementary view of the areas that they specialize in.
The Open List – This is an excellent site for finding doctors, therapists, alternative medicine, lawyers, and anything else that comes to mind. This website mainly focuses on helping polyamorous individuals find services from individuals who are versed in polyamory and are non-judgmental and inclusive in their interactions.
Kink and Poly Aware Professionals Directory – Another group of therapists that work with keeping individuality, sensitivity, and inclusiveness in mind, the KAP has a knowledgeable base of therapists that are a great resource to choose from.
There are many resources out there to find therapists and other professionals that will support you in your journey within a polyamorous relationship; these are just a few. Explore these options, and you’ll see that you have more resources at your fingertips than you thought.
Do I Need Therapy?
This is a question that gets asked all the time because no one thinks they need therapy. However, that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t benefit from it. Being in a relationship with one person is enough for people to need relationship counseling; being in a poly relationship and dealing with multiple people has a host of other issues that could use a trained therapist’s support and ear.
If you’re feeling alone in your struggles with issues within your relationship, bring it up to your partner and see how they think about going to a therapist. Some will be resistant, and that’s fine. Not everyone is okay with that – there’s an unfortunate stigma around mental health that creates a barrier with many people, and you’ll be fighting against that.
If you feel that therapy is needed and your partner(s) don’t want to attend, go by yourself for a while and see if that helps you deal with the issues you’re having. In the long run, that may help them see that therapy does help as they’ll be seeing a direct impact of the therapy on your relationship as you work through your problems.
What do I Need for Therapy?
There isn’t anything you need in particular for therapy other than yourself and an open mind. Showing up is the first step to improvement, and you’ll do that over time whether you go once a week, once every two weeks, or once a month. Most likely, your therapist will, at first, suggest that you go once a week to establish rapport and get what information they need so you can move forward smoothly.
What if I Don’t Like My Therapist?
This isn’t uncommon. Like people out in the world, sometimes we don’t always click with everyone, and the same is true about therapists. There are so many therapy styles out there, from CBT to Immersion therapy, that it’s hard to tell what will work for you until you try it and figure out what does.
Finding practitioners who know multiple therapy types and are flexible with trying them with you is best, but don’t be afraid. If you don’t like the therapist, cut ties, and move on to another one. This doesn’t mean that you’re a terrible person in therapy; this means that you didn’t click with them and need to find one that’s better suited for you.
What if I Can’t Afford Therapy?
This can sometimes be an issue, and a lot of therapists understand this. If you need assistance with therapy, don’t be afraid to ask about monetary aid or a sliding scale for payment. Most offices will have at least a sliding scale and assist you in that regard; this way, you still get therapy, and it’s at a price that you can afford. However, be aware that most places will require proof of your income or unemployment to use this sliding scale.
In the end, whether you’re in therapy by yourself or with a partner, it’s not a race; it’s a journey on getting to where you want to be in your relationship. Goals can be set and met in time, but don’t expect immediate change. Therapy is about changing over time slowly, making sure that it’s done safely, and ensuring that everyone is experiencing personal growth along the way.