With doctors opening up more about polyamory lately, this post from Cunning Minx is both timely and important: "What healthcare professionals need to know about poly and kink." The post was written after Minx participated in an event at Bastyr Center for Natural Health called the "human library," which allowed naturopathic practicioners to ask questions of human "books" from various communities.
The practitioners were most concerned about how to determine whether a patient is poly or kinky, and what those terms actually mean. In order to create a safe, non-judgmental space, Minx suggests practitioners refrain from assumptions and use open-ended language when asking questions -- e.g., "what is your relationship structure?" Another example from her personal experience:
My favorite personal experience with this was a fantastic gynecologist who, when I was in the stirrups, asked, "Do you sleep with men, women, or both?" I'd never heard "or both" before, and I was delighted she'd asked! I answered, "both," to which she replied with a cheery, "Good for you!" And just like that, she established trust. I knew I could tell her about my partners, probably even my kinky proclivities, and she wouldn't flinch, blink or judge.
Minx also recommends practitioners get their hands on Opening Up, The Ultimate Guide to Kink, and a paper entitlted "What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory."
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Recently, a panel of experts convened at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Philadelphia and held a session on polyamory. The session was called "Polyamory (responsible non-monogamy), an emerging relationship orientation/presenting issue: Research and clinical information to improve care," and it was quite possibly the first formal discussion about polyamory at a psychiatry convention.
An article for the Philadelphia Inquirer recounts the session. The experts leading the panel were psychiatrist William Slaughter, sociologist Eli Sheff, and psychologist Richard Sprott. Aside from educating the audience on the meanings of words such as "primary," "secondary," "swinging," and "compersion," the experts also explained that the number of poly folks is increasing and discussed why the poly relationship model is not only acceptable, but successful.
A panel of experts at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in Philadelphia last week said that open relationships between more than two people can work, but it requires a lot of talk about rules, boundaries, and time spent with various lovers.
William Slaughter, a psychiatrist in Cambridge, Mass., who has been treating polyamorous patients for about five years, said they need to have very good communication skills and be especially good at "mentalizing" or understanding others' emotional reactions.
. . . The important point for therapists, she said, is that polyamorous families are "not definitionally pathological." While they don't follow conventional morals, they do establish clear ethical codes that emphasize honesty and treating others well.
Read the rest at the Philadelphia Inquirer.