Polyamory-friendly counselors

Letitbe

New member
My husband and I live in a conservative area and are planning on going to couples counseling. Has anyone found it difficult to find a polyamory-friendly counselor in conservative areas?
 

ThatGirlInGray

New member
A while ago nycindie put together an awesome post full of links to various resources, which includes looking for poly-friendly professionals. If you haven't seen it, that post is here: http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showpost.php?p=133686&postcount=19

I haven't looked for poly-friendly counselors yet, nor do I really live in a conservative area, but the way I look at it, if they haven't heard of poly and aren't willing to learn, you don't want to go to them anyway. Same for someone who has heard of poly but is judgmental of it. If they aren't willing to learn about new things and open their mind, or if they're going to let their own biases and prejudices interfere, they probably aren't a very good counselor. So in some ways, asking how they feel about poly during a phone interview could narrow down your options and make your selection easier!
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
When I first phoned my counsellor to ask about seeing someone, one of the first things she asked me is "Have you ever interviewed a counsellor before?"

The way she said it made it sound not only permissible, but expected.

So get out the phone book and start calling. You won't be charged for asking some basic questions to find out whether it's a good fit, and that can save you a lot of headache down the road.

Oddly enough, I haven't actually bothered asking my counsellor if she's poly friendly. She's definitely queer friendly (being as she's queer herself). But I wasn't going for relationship-related issues, so to me it wasn't really relevant. She's very good at focusing on the fact that my issues are my own, and not to be blamed on the people in my life.
 
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Helo

New member

SisterLauren

New member
+1 to another poster on shopping around!

i'm not in couples counseling but i do have a therapist, and she is very open to discussing my husbands.
 

AJ1

New member
I didn't have any problems finding a counselor. In fact, I was going off a list of specifically Christian counselors, so I was surprised by the open-mindedness I encountered. A good counselor is going to be there for you, to meet your needs - not trying to push their own morality onto your life.
 

Precious1

New member
I check on the Gay and Lesbian Medical Associations Find a Provider

Not directly poly oriented, but professionals who describe themselves as being welcoming to clients with alternative lifestyles. The list isn't huge yet, so if you know of a great therapist or other health care provider who is "all inclusive" you might want to suggest they sign up for a free listing.
 

MeeraReed

Well-known member
One more thought: if you do start seeing a therapist, and after a few sessions you feel that they are not very poly-friendly or are not giving very poly-friendly advice, don't be afraid to seek out a different therapist.

I made a mistake in staying with one therapist for 6 months even though she could not grasp what I meant by "having feelings for more than one person." She could not fathom why I was deeply grieving for the demise of a relationship in which I had wanted to see other people. She kept telling me that I must have Asperger's (I don't) or that I needed serious medication and/ or a full psych exam (which would have cost $2000 beyond my insurance).
 

SJJ

New member
I am new to Los Angeles and it has become clear to me that I need a therapist. However, I really want one that at the very least understands poly. I don't want to be letting somebody into my head and having them not understand why I don't just leave him because he has feelings for somebody else, etc.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
One more thought: if you do start seeing a therapist, and after a few sessions you feel that they are not very poly-friendly or are not giving very poly-friendly advice, don't be afraid to seek out a different therapist.

I wouldn't wait for a few sessions, I would find out before laying down a single dollar. You're within your rights to interview potential therapists before hiring them. If they refuse to interview, walk away. And during the interview, ask them specifically if they are polyamory-friendly. Use the word "polyamory." Whether they know the word will be the first test. Their reaction will be the second test. And a direct question whether they support it will be the final question.

Also, ask them about their general therapy process. For example, mine told me that she does not do long term therapy. She prefers to help people when they're going through a rough patch, and she provides coaching via phone afterwards, but she doesn't see people who need long term care.
 

MeeraReed

Well-known member
I wouldn't wait for a few sessions, I would find out before laying down a single dollar. You're within your rights to interview potential therapists before hiring them. If they refuse to interview, walk away. And during the interview, ask them specifically if they are polyamory-friendly. Use the word "polyamory." Whether they know the word will be the first test. Their reaction will be the second test. And a direct question whether they support it will be the final question.

Agreed, but in my case, I liked the therapist initially and felt comfortable with her after having shopped around for a therapist for a while. Then, a few sessions into it, when we got deeper into my issues, I felt like she was saying unhelpful things and/or wasn't understanding my situation. But at that point, I felt too invested or too guilty to change therapists.

I was also concerned that it was my problem if my therapist wasn't telling me what I wanted to hear. I thought that I had to face uncomfortable truths or something.

I was also severely depressed/unstable at the time and could not have handled interviewing a whole lot of therapists.

Oh, and the biggest issue was, I didn't know I was poly and would not have been able to use or articulate the word "polyamorous" in my search for a therapist. I was indeed dealing with the fallout of a non-exclusive relationship, and I'd had non-exclusive relationships in the past, but part of my problem was that I had no idea why these relationships hadn't worked out or what was "wrong" with me.

This particular therapist kept agreeing that she, too, didn't know what was "wrong" with me, except that it seemed like I wasn't looking for a "real" relationship. (Which is exactly what my ex had told me that plunged me into a crisis in the first place--that he had never considered our [4-years' long] relationship "real" because I had wanted to be non-exclusive).

I finally stopped making appointments with her, but didn't seek out a new therapist until months later. By then, I had learned all about polyamory and had made a lot of strides on my own in making peace with myself and the break-up. For my next therapist, I was much better able to articulate what I was looking for in therapy, and I found a really open-minded therapist who told me right away that she has experience treating people in open relationships.

I didn't even realize how out of sync with me that previous therapist had been until, in retrospect, I realized how much more useful my current one is.

So that's all I mean--even if you like a therapist initially, you may figure out later that you don't click well, and it's not too late to find a new therapist then.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
I was also concerned that it was my problem if my therapist wasn't telling me what I wanted to hear. I thought that I had to face uncomfortable truths or something.

Oooo that is such a good point, and such a Catch-22 of therapy for some people.

In a nutshell, any therapist will tell you some things you don't want to hear. I know mine does. But for that to be "good for you," they need to be the right therapist. How do you know if a therapist is right? Sometimes referrals help, but even then... they have to be good for you. Even a great therapist will be a poor fit for some people. A pair of custom-made Italian leather dress shoes can cost $500 and still be all wrong if you need steel-toed boots.

And to throw water on an oil fire, you need a certain level of mental health and self-awareness to determine whether it's the fit / counsellor who's bad, or just that you don't want to hear what you need to hear.

I remember a recent session I had... I was upset that my husband had started going back on some of his commitments (not major life things, just like... "I'll take your car in to get fixed" and then trying to get out of it). She said something along the lines of the reason I was upset wasn't that he wasn't keeping his commitments, but that I was reading more into his motivation for not keeping them. E.g. I was assuming that he thought his time was more valuable than mine. But that was my projection onto him, not his own words. So... I needed to change my expectations. Well HRMPPHH! I didn't want to change my expectations. I wanted to know how to get him to change his behaviour. But she was right. Next time it happened, I took the time to discuss his motivation. Turned out he had pretty good rationale, so we negotiated a compromise.
 
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