Philly psychiatrists educate on polyamory

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.