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"The Polyamorist On The Couch: Q&A With Tamara Pincus On What Therapists Should Know About Big Love"

on Thursday, 12 December 2013. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Huffington Post

The New York Post says that polyamory is having a fashionable moment.

"Open relationships are becoming so common that when singer Robin Thicke gripped Lana Scolaro’s barely covered butt at a VMA afterparty at 1OAK last month," the tabloid wrote in October, "his indiscretion reportedly didn’t get him into trouble with his actress wife Paula Patton."

But if open relationships are becoming more common -- or, in any case, more visible amongst celebrities -- Tamara Pincus, a D.C.-based therapist with a practice advertised as "psychotherapy for the open-minded," says there's still a long way to go before polyamory goes fully mainstream.

Pincus, who hosts a monthly discussion group for people who are interested in, as she puts it, "consensual non-monogamous relationships," recently reached out to a group who might not realize they're interested in these relationships: She published a primer on polyamory aimed at clinical social workers.

That paper is behind a paywall, but here's a similar paper published earlier in the Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Work's newsletter. Both start similarly -- here's the beginning of the new one:

Polyamory is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the full knowledge and free consent of everyone involved. (see Wikipedia) In our culture, monogamy is generally seen as the only viable form of romantic relationship. Many people have never even heard of the concept of polyamory and often when they do come across polyamorous people they believe that their relationships are fundamentally and morally inferior to monogamous relationships.

For some, being polyamorous is an identity that they use to describe themselves along with their gender and sexual orientation. When a polyamorous client experiences this form of prejudice in therapy it can be highly damaging and cause them to quit therapy without addressing the needs which brought them in. Often if a therapist seems too closed off or if the client has too much shame their sexuality the client will not bring up their poly lifestyle or identity in therapy.

HuffPost caught up with Pincus to find out more. (This interview has been lightly edited for space and clarity.)

Why don't we start with you telling me about the paper you wrote -- what is it about, and who is it for?

It was a paper for social workers and psychotherapists about polyamory. Specifically giving them information on what would be good information to have in working with polyamorous clients.

Currently, there is not a lot out there for social workers about polyamory. A lot of them have never heard of it or think that it only happens when a couple is not doing well but not ready to break up. They don't understand the concept of poly identity and why people choose polyamory aside from a desire to have sex with more than one person.

This can lead to marginalization. A lot of poly clients in therapy don't come out to their therapists which means they don't work on a lot of the issues that come up. Also often when they do come out they feel judged by their therapists or misunderstood.

Often even the most well-meaning therapists will not understand polyamory so clients will end up spending their time educating their therapists which is not a service they should necessarily have to pay for. ...

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