If you are in a non-monogamous relationship, or are considering entering one, you may need the same help and professional advice that couples in a monogamous relationship would need regarding setting boundaries, building intimacy, and communicating. However, you may find it difficult to find a counselor who has experience working with polyamorous couples or groups. To make sure that you find a counselor who is prepared to help you, you should follow these five tips.
Ask About Their Experience With Alternative Relationships
Before setting up your first appointment, you should ask your potential counselor about their experience with alternative relationships. Since monogamy tends to be the default practice for relationships in the United States, many counselors will not have experience working with couples or groups in polyamorous relationships. You should ask whether your counselor has studied or has extra training with polyamory. You may also ask if they have worked with people exploring polyamory or if they have practiced or currently do practice polyamory. This will give you a better idea of whether they have a strong grasp of the unique issues polyamorous couples and groups face.
Ask About Their Personal and Professional Beliefs Regarding Cheating and Polyamory
Some counselors may have a deeply ingrained personal belief that any sexual or intimate relationship outside of a monogamous relationship constitutes a form of cheating. Others may believe that cheating involves breaking rules that have been established in a relationship, and others may not focus on cheating at all, but instead focus on boundaries and feelings of trust and safety.
You will want to select a counselor who can understand your beliefs and respect the arrangements that you make in your relationship.
Make Sure They Have Experience With LGBTQ Couples, If This Pertains to You or Your Partner
If one or more of the people that you are in your polyamorous relationship identify as LGBTQ, it is important that you find a counselor who is comfortable working with LGBTQ couples. Again, their experience of working with actual couples may be more important than their willingness to work with someone who identifies as LGBTQ, so be sure to get references when possible.
Chose a Therapeutic Approach That Works For You
There are many different types of couples therapy, such as Imago, Emotionally Focused Therapy, and Internal Family Systems Based Therapy. Each of these different styles of counseling uses a different approach and focuses on different aspects of the individual or the relationship between individuals. Many counselors blend methods to create a custom style of therapy that works for your particular relationship.
You should research the different types of relationship therapy that are currently in use and find one that everyone who will be attending sessions can agree to participate in. Then, look for a counselor who specializes in that particular technique. However, you should try to remain open to exploring different techniques at the suggestion of your counselor.
Make Sure You Feel Respected and Comfortable During Your Sessions
Once you find a counselor, it is important that everyone who attends sessions feels heard, respected, and comfortable. Occasionally, you may feel uncomfortable if your counselor asks you to explore areas of your relationship that are currently difficult for you or to question beliefs that you hold. Occasionally, your counselor may tell you things about your behavior and relationship that are difficult to hear.
However, you should feel comfortable that your counselor will not shame you or make you feel unsafe in any way. If you feel uncomfortable with your counselor, you should begin looking for a new one that fits your needs better.
Finding a couples counselor that you trust and feel comfortable with can be a long process for any couple. However, as part of a polyamorous relationship, it can be even more difficult. It is important that you find a professional with experience that can help you with your particular issues. To get started, contact a company like Drake Counseling Services.