Scroll. Scroll. Click. Click. Search bars string across your desktop as you look into every counseling website imaginable.
Finding the right therapist for your wants can be exhausting, and when it comes to finding a niche therapist- it may feel even more difficult. Poly/ENM therapists are one of these niches.
What is polyamory?
Polyamory as defined by Psychology Today, "is the practice of having multiple intimate relationships, whether sexual or just romantic, with the full knowledge and consent of all parties involved." Along with that, there are many types of polyamorous relationships. The top 9 being:
- Anchor Partners
- Relational Anarchy/Open
- Solo Poly
While these are terms to help people identify their boundaries and wants, they do not encompass all forms of relationships. Determining descriptive words to share your own wants and boundaries can be helpful when meeting new potential partners.
What is ENM?
ENM or ethical non-monogamy encompasses all types of relationships that include varying degrees of connection with more than one partner. For example, you may notice swinging is not listed in the above groupings. While it techincally would fall under Hierarchical, Vee or Solo Poly- it can also be categorized under the umbrella term ENM. ENM is a more discrete descriptor; and recognizes that as long as all parties agree to the rules that have been communicated they can seak out partners. To read more about ENM check out this Bustle article here.
How is ENM/Poly not cheating?
If you are new to poly, this might be a question you or a loved one might ask. ENM/Poly relationships are different from cheating in many ways. That is not to say that someone in an ENM/Poly relationship "can't" cheat. There are still rules and boundaries in these relationships. Therefor, if someone breaks or disregards a boundary in a monogamous OR poly relationship, both are considered cheating/infidelity. ENM/Poly relationships have set rules and boundaries that all people involved had agreed to participate with. The rules just don't always look the same as a monogamous relationship and can be misconstrued by people who haven't learned more about polyamory.
Why choose a ENM/Poly Knowledgable Therapist?
Whether you are just starting to try polyamory or have been poly/ENM for a long time- finding a therapist who understands the communication levels and structure of your relationships is helpful. Poly folks can experience things that would not necessarily arise in the same ways as a more monogamous style of relationship. There might be topics such as jealousy, time spent together/or not, intention, boundary setting, rule breaking or diminished trust, and type of communication you want to have with each other. A poly/ENM knowledgable therapist understands how to bridge the gaps of communication and help you create a more transparent understanding of each other's wants, needs, boundaries, patterns, and emotions.
If you are looking for a therapist, check if their website or description details the demographics they work with. For example, my website details that I am a poly allied therapist. Ask questions in your intake to see if you feel they might be a good fit. Try to remember it could take time to find the right person, but there are lots of clinicians out there! For more information regarding finding the right therapist, check out my article Choosing a Therapist.
*Please note this is an informational blog and does not encompass all people's experiences. This article is also not detailing polygamy as that is not within my particular scope of practice and is very different from polyamory. If you have more questions regarding poly therapy, please click the contact button below or any of the linked articles.
Cover photo by Deon Black