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Old 06-15-2010, 07:41 PM
joyfulgirl26 joyfulgirl26 is offline
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Default Experiences with therapy?

does anyone here have experience with therapy (psychological/talk) in the context of poly?

i am in indiana and had a really hard time finding a therapist who was even LGBT friendly, and i've been to her twice now and gotten some signals from her that although she has no PROBLEM with poly or kink (i am both), she doesn't really "get" either of them or understand how important and integral they are to my happiness.

my husband and i are currently trying to determine whether we can/should stay together and our first session with this therapist was a little frustrating for me in that she aligned herself with him during the discussions.

most notably: i tried to explain to her and my husband how compersion works for me (and i was NOT insinuating my husband should feel this way, just relating my own experience)...how i need a little less time and energy from my husband when i see him happy with someone else because THAT becomes part of the reward feedback i am getting from him at that point. but i ended up trailing off completely because it was clear from their facial expressions that neither she nor my husband had ANY idea what i was talking about, and neither of them prompted me to finish, which made me feel like they weren't interested in understanding it either.

so i guess my question is two-fold (or maybe three-fold): if you have experience with therapy in the context of poly, has it been positive, negative, helpful? was the therapist poly-friendly at all and if not, how was that handled?

i may have the heart and energy to go into more detail about the situation in the future, but i wanted to start with this for now and get some thoughts on therapy in general. thanks in advance from a very exhausted and frustrated wife.

Last edited by joyfulgirl26; 06-16-2010 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:14 PM
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River River is offline
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Originally Posted by joyfulgirl26 View Post
... she doesn't really "get" either of them or understand how important and integral they are to my happiness.

my husband and i are currently trying to determine whether we can/should stay together and our first session with this therapist was a little frustrating for me in that she aligned herself with him during the discussions.

most notably: i tried to explain to her and my husband how compersion works for me (and i was NOT insinuating my husband should feel this way, just relating my own experience)...how i need a little less time and energy from my husband when i see him happy with someone else because THAT becomes part of the reward feedback i am getting from him at that point. but i ended up trailing off completely because it was clear from their facial expressions that neither she nor my husband had ANY idea what i was talking about, and neither of them prompted me to finish, which made me feel like they weren't interested in understanding it either.
I've never been in any sort of relationship / couples coucelling, but I'd like to encourage you to trust your instincts here. Not all people, and not all therapists, "get it" about compersion, polyamory, etc. And some apparently don't want to get it, either. If you want guidance on how to paint watercolors or fly a space shuttle, best go with someone who has had a little experience. But if there are no experienced painters or pilots to choose from, at least find one who can respect your desire to paint or fly!
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:16 PM
jkelly jkelly is offline
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Default What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory

Send your therapist What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory and make it clear that you expect her to read it and digest it as a condition of continuing to work with her.

Your therapist may not see "how compersion works for you" as the most rewarding thing to spend a session on, but I wonder about your husband not following up on it -- that's definitely something I'd want to hear my partner talk about at length (although perhaps outside of the session). It may be that what you experienced as your therapist "aligning with him" was a tactic on her part in order to increase his level of comfort in communicating, but you need to trust your therapist to be an ally for both of you in order to accept that.
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:43 PM
joyfulgirl26 joyfulgirl26 is offline
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Send your therapist What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory and make it clear that you expect her to read it and digest it as a condition of continuing to work with her.

Your therapist may not see "how compersion works for you" as the most rewarding thing to spend a session on, but I wonder about your husband not following up on it -- that's definitely something I'd want to hear my partner talk about at length (although perhaps outside of the session). It may be that what you experienced as your therapist "aligning with him" was a tactic on her part in order to increase his level of comfort in communicating, but you need to trust your therapist to be an ally for both of you in order to accept that.
absolutely, and i actually made it a point to not respond to any of the accusations he was making during the first session because he is VERY wary and not trusting of therapy at all, so i wanted to make sure that he felt like he could talk, since i'd already had a solo session with her. unfortunately, i'm now spinning on the horrible thought "what if the therapist took my silence for agreement?". i had actually seen that pamphlet before and meant to print it out for her but totally forgot. next time!

i actually had a solo session with her first, partly because i was starting to question my own sanity and partly convince my husband to go to therapy, again because he's pretty anti-therapy. in the solo session, she asked me if i could ever be mono. and if i was poly because i'd never been happy in a mono relationship. which are valid questions, but a little unsettling to hear when my marriage is in crisis and poly was one of the foundational agreements of our marriage.

as i mentioned, she has had some experience w/poly scenarios (she mentioned 3 different couples/groups she's worked with), and based on her feedback, it seems like she gets poly as a philosophy and thinks it can work. however, the flavor of poly which i am most comfortable with and thought my husband was most comfortable with (which is of course, the crux of the crisis) is just so foreign to her, she can't even really grasp why i feel the way i do. like why the year-long relationship i have with my boyfriend is important to me. why kink is an important emotional outlet for me and that it's really ok with me if my husband isn't into it. why i feel like i really CAN love my husband and my boyfriend in different but equal ways without detracting from my marriage. why i feel like integrating the people we date into our lives in meaningful ways (not just dating in a vacuum) can and does enrich our relationship. why an ultimatum scares the shit out of me (and i'll give you a hint: it's not because it means losing my boyfriend -- although that would really suck balls, and not in the fun sexy way). and so on. it instead felt a little bit like she thought my relationship with my boyfriend was something to "manage", which is the attitude my husband has taken in the last 2 or 3 months.

but my husband just told me he has written some stuff up for us to go over tonight, so i guess depending on that, we may not be going to any more sessions. =/ we'll see!

Last edited by joyfulgirl26; 06-15-2010 at 08:47 PM.
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:52 PM
joyfulgirl26 joyfulgirl26 is offline
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I've never been in any sort of relationship / couples coucelling, but I'd like to encourage you to trust your instincts here. Not all people, and not all therapists, "get it" about compersion, polyamory, etc. And some apparently don't want to get it, either. If you want guidance on how to paint watercolors or fly a space shuttle, best go with someone who has had a little experience. But if there are no experienced painters or pilots to choose from, at least find one who can respect your desire to paint or fly!
well, that's kind of what i was looking for. i have been profoundly unable to find any poly-specific therapists in indy, so i decided to check out this one who specializes in LGBT issues but mentioned poly on her site...it seemed promising at the time!

and honestly, i really like her. i think if it was just communication or personal issues, she and i would be fine. i think part of me is scared that i'm just not going to find a therapist around here who understands or at least respects what poly looks like from where i'm standing (and what i thought our marriage was built around, ack!).
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:57 PM
joyfulgirl26 joyfulgirl26 is offline
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oh also, for maybe some context:

me: 28
hubby: 35
boyfriend: 40

hubby and me: together 5 years/married 2.5 of those 5 years, never closed our relationship and drafted up poly agreements after ~2 years together

boyfriend and me: together 1 year, he is engaged to his sweetie of 5 years
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Old 06-16-2010, 12:07 AM
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Honestheart Honestheart is offline
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I too have had issues too with therapists,
One thing i read about in another thread that i felt was helpful was to keep your audience in mind...
i would avoid some of the terminology and just say how i felt. I called poly "open relationship but not just about sexual relations", and when it came to compersion i just said how i felt... then once i felt they had a good grasp on the ideology etc i started using the terms but careful to explain what they meant...
and as for finding a therapist who is poly friendly, again from personal experience i found a few websites online for psychologist associations in the state i was in. and then on the website they listed the "specialties" of the therapists. i then searched for one who "specialized" in relationship therapy plus in gay/lesbian or as they termed it "alternative" relationships. reason i put specialize in ->"<- is just b/c they do not list it, they have experience sumtimes...
anyways the first therapist i saw was absolutely bias and judgmental and did not understand or want to understand poly...in her eyes it was wrong. so after 4 sessions, i left her and thats when i searched by state associations and i went to somebody who specialized in gay and lesbian relationships and found that therapist was amazingly open to poly and we hit it off immediately. she understood the parallels to poly relationships in terms of social stigma, got compersion (again i didnt use the terms tho) and actually encouraged me to not stop poly just cus of one bad relationship!
just remember, sometimes a therapist just is not a "good fit" for you and they realize it is not uncommon for you to want to try seeing somebody else b/c not all therapists are alike an have different techniques... it is important to find sumbody u feel understands you, poly, and your SO's too. try as many as you need too till you find the right one. iw as lucky enuff that therapist #3 was the right one! my experience has been, if by session #3 or 4 u still dont feel they are right, then move on...
not saying it will always work, but seemed to for me anyways...
good luck to you! its hard, but i found that helped me a lot! hope it helps you.
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Last edited by Honestheart; 06-16-2010 at 12:11 AM.
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Old 06-16-2010, 12:18 AM
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Honestheart Honestheart is offline
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oh and, if i couldnt find what i needed on the websites, i emailed the presidents of the association ins question and told then what i was looking for and for members in their association who had practices in that field...
and again i'd say
"alternative relationship therapy" and they assumed i wanted gay and lesbian relationship therapy and i just went from there :-)

i never did fine somebody who was "poly specific"

here was an amazing site which i selected the advanced search option and allowed me to search by city, zipcode, and specialty i selected "sexual orientation" and i also selected "gay/lesbian/bisexual" for "has experience with"
but just to elt you know...i am not gay, lesbian, or bi. i dd explain this to the therapist in my first session, and she was awesum at understanding why i searched that way:-)
http://www.helppro.com/HP/Search/advancedsearch.aspx
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Last edited by NeonKaos; 06-17-2010 at 04:02 PM.
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  #9  
Old 06-16-2010, 01:47 PM
joyfulgirl26 joyfulgirl26 is offline
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awesome, thank you for the link!

yeah, i'm very careful to not use "poly" terminology in sessions, since i know the therapist probably isn't super familiar with any of it. i don't use primary/secondary, i simply explain their roles in my life. i didn't use compersion, i simply tried to explain one of the benefits of my husband having a girlfriend. and unfortunately, they were both confounded by my explanation. blargh.

husband didn't cough up anything that he had written up last night, so i am still in limbo. maybe another session will help. good idea to give it 3-4 sessions before i make a decision about moving on or not. for all i know, jkelly is spot on and that first joint session was just her making him comfortable enough to speak up...she may be looking for more of my take in future sessions.

thank you guys for the ideas and support!
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Old 06-16-2010, 04:43 PM
Ariakas Ariakas is offline
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Originally Posted by joyfulgirl26 View Post
a
yeah, i'm very careful to not use "poly" terminology in sessions, since i know the therapist probably isn't super familiar with any of it. i don't use primary/secondary, i simply explain their roles in my life. i didn't use compersion, i simply tried to explain one of the benefits of my husband having a girlfriend. and unfortunately, they were both confounded by my explanation. blargh.
Usually therapists aren't dumb. If you give them a term that is used, they may take the time post session to look it up and get a better understanding for the next session. Trying to talk around established and functional labels may be causing confusion.

I am anti-therapist, but I have had one in my childhood that was amazing (for very different reasons). They are out there, but if you are trying to baby step them through what your relationship is, and the terms you use confidently, then all thats going to happen is your therapist second guessing you.

Obviously, if the don't take the time to understand then they suck, but why take the chance on having them misunderstand you.
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