Thoughts on choosing a therapist?
I have posted a couple times before, but the short version is that I am having a lot of garden variety but very intense jealousy problems dealing with my poly relationship. I have been looking for a therapist to help me work things out.
The two I have seen have seemed to generally not be open to the idea of polyamory. I may be misinterpreting, and neither said anything explicitly condemning it, but from the questions they ask me and the comments they make, it seems clear that they think the solution to my jealousy problems is to give up this wacky idea and just be monogamous.
After months of pain and soul-searching and talking to people like you all, I really think that if that was the answer I would gladly just do it. But I don't; I think the best course of action for me is to talk through and find ways to manage my jealousy problems.
If I try to find a third therapist, I worry that I am just looking for someone to placate me, and it may not be what I need. Should I keep working with the woman I saw today, and maybe tell her these kinds of thoughts? Or should I just try to be open to the possibility that maybe both of the therapists are right, and I am torturing myself trying to fit a square peg in a round hole? Have you all had any good/bad therapy experiences that might help?
This post of nycindie's has several links to resources to find a poly-friendly therapist. I don't think a therapist who isn't poly-friendly would be very helpful to someone who is or is trying to be in a poly relationship. Having said that, though, I might ask your current therapist outright if she's open to the idea of poly, instead of trying to infer. You deserve a therapist that's actually going to help you work on what's best FOR YOU, so requiring a therapist to be poly-friendly is in no way looking to be placated. It's looking for help that fits your needs, which is generally necessary.
Someone recommended this site for finding poly-friendly professionals (PFPs as they call them, apparently) to me recently. They supposedly keep the list pretty up to date and have a few different search options for various locations. You can also search for online and phone services.
I don't think someone could placate you out of jealousy even if they wanted to :). And that's not a reaction to you, just to the issue of jealousy.
But if you mean you're looking for a therapist who you will not worry is judging you, then it's a totally reasonably idea. You want to be with someone you really feel comfortable talking to, and someone who is open to whatever option might work best for you.
I see no harm in asking your therapist about an underlying bias and whether she thinks it might get in the way. Also no harm in telling a therapist you're feeling apprehensive about her response, if that's an issue.
I think therapy has helped me deal with jealousy, although it wasn't an issue I went in to address. (That would be: I need to stop falling in love with people since I'm already married. With tremendous luck I picked a poly-friendly therapist, so ended up approaching a lot of issues differently than I expected.)
For me, sometimes useful questions in dealing with jealousy are the "why" questions: why do you want that, why do you feel insecure, why do you feel distrustful. It helps to step back and assess whether my feelings are linked to the reality of the relationship or more to my own individual issues.
It's still hard at times though, and I have also wondered whether I'm just not up to the challenge, so I sympathize with your dilemma.
I do sympathise with this issue - I was very worried when I realised that we needed a professional to talk to and there were none labelled "poly-friendly" in our area.
We got incredibly lucky - the lady we worked with did a lot of work for Catholic Charities, locally, so I didn't hold out much hope. She hadn't heard of polyamory but promised to do some research.
Once she had done that she asked me lots of questions to clarify and to try to explore whether this really was what I felt in my heart, and not an excuse to "cheat with permission". She started watching Big Love and laughed about some of the issues that they came up with.
Then we realised that she was very, very good - I could explain stuff to her that my mono partner just didn't understand and she found a way to explain it back to my mono partner in ways that utterly made sense to her, asking me for confirmation and guidance. It was an utterly positive experience. I have since recommended her to other poly folks who have told me that she has been great for them, too.
So I asked her why didn't did say that she was "poly friendly", and she said that that would (unfortunately) cause others to avoid her as an "alternative" therapist, which was a limited niche that she didn't want to dive into. I followed this up with the question about how poly folks should find a good poly therapist when they don't advertise, and she said that in her opinion, any Good therapist should be able to do the research and put themselves in the patient's shoes without judging or looking for "solutions".
However, I have seen on threads here that others have had less than positive experiences.
I guess it's one of those things that you need to find someone you can trust to be open-minded, and that can often take some time.
A while back I bookmarked some articles (don't know how I found them) that are aimed at healthcare professionals working with polyamory patients - I printed some of them out and gave them to our therapist and she said that they were very useful, because they talked about issues from THEIR point of view. Here they are:
I sympathize with your frustration over therapy.
I don't know a secret for finding a poly-friendly therapist. The way I did it was trial and error. It was a long and grueling process.
I definitely recommending finding someone new rather than trying to make it work with your current therapist. I saw a therapist for 8 months who wasn't really helpful--but I felt too guilty to leave. I felt like I should try to make it work with her, like I was being a bad therapy patient if I just wanted someone to tell me what I wanted to hear.
So I wasted a lot of months getting nowhere (and, in retrospect, talking to her was making me feel a lot worse). Finally I quit making appointments with her and didn't see a therapist again for six months.
When I finally got the courage to make an appointment with someone new, I started out by explaining to her that I have an alternative perspective on dating, and that I hadn't been happy with my previous therapist because I had felt she was judgmental and unhelpful in regard to my dating issues.
That started the session off on a very positive note. My new therapist was very willing to approach my issues with an open mind. She admitted that except for one previous patient in an open marriage, she did not have much experience with polyamory or other types of non-monogamy, but that she was willing to learn.
The sense of relief I felt after just one session with her was enormously liberating. I have felt so much happier with myself since I started seeing her.
In retrospect, some of the things my old therapist had told me and asked me were totally ridiculous in relation to my situation. But for a long time I lacked the perspective and self-confidence to seek out a new therapist.
Anyway, that's my advice to you: find someone new and explain clearly what you want.
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