Polyamorous Clients in Therapy: What You Didn’t Know You Needed to Know

Stephanie M. Sullivan, M.S., LLMFT 

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Course Description


Consensual non-monogamy is a relationship style in which all individuals within the relationship agree to not being monogamous, and all individuals involved in the relationship are aware that it is not a monogamous relationship. Polyamory is a type of consensual non-monogamy in which people are able to be in committed, long term, intimate relationships with more than one person. An estimated 4-5 percent of the American population openly reports being involved in a consensual non-monogamous relationship – though this number is still fluctuating and difficult to determine (Moors, Conley, Edelstein, and Chopkin, 2015; Winston, 2017). Of this, Sheff (2014) estimates that somewhere between 1.2 million and 9.8 million people in the United States are polyamorous. Despite these numbers, many mental health clinicians are unaware of how to work with consensually non-monogamous clients. This gap in knowledge has led to creating psychological distress for polyamorous clients due to marginalization, discrimination, and pathologizing their chosen relationship style. There have been multiple calls for awareness by mental health providers in recent years, asking for more trainings on working with polyamorous clients to help this group become more accepted and understood in therapy (Anapol, 2010; Graham, 2014; Williams & Prior, 2015). Polyamorous people face a culture of mononormativity, in which monogamy is assumed to be the default, “normal,” and most “ideal” relationship style, but clinicians can assist in dealing with this minority stressor.

This course will train mental health professionals to provide more inclusive and culturally sensitive services to their polyamorous clients by educating them about the nuances of working with polyamorous clients in a therapeutic environment. The course will begin with a basic overview of minority stress theory and terminology for therapists to understand the diversity within relationship structures. The presenter will teach therapists to work with various clinical issues related to polyamory, such as creating relationship agreements, navigating jealousy, and developing healthy, ethical relationships. Abuse as it may present in polyamorous relationships will also be covered. The effects of mononormativity on both the client and therapist will also be examined. The course will discuss compersion, which is generally considered the “opposite” of jealousy – when a person feels joy over their partner also experiencing joy. Vignettes will be utilized to further deepen understanding of clinical work.

Learning Objectives

After completion of this course, participants should be able to:

  • Describe at least 2 ways minority stress affects polyamorous clients
  • Differentiate between hierarchical and nonhierarchical types of polyamorous relationships
  • List at least 2 unique forms of abuse that may occur within polyamorous contexts
  • Describe at least 2 interventions therapists can use to help clients struggling with jealousy develop compersion

$90 $45

Read more

Licensed therapists who work in nonprofits price is $60 $35. (Enter code npocoupon at checkout)

Student/unlicensed price is  $30 $25. (Enter code plcoupon at checkout)

This course will be archived on March 15, 2024

Stephanie M. SullivanAbout the Presenter 

Stephanie M. Sullivan, M.S., LLMFT – Stephanie M. Sullivan is a Limited Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at A Compass Within Personal Consulting in Rochester, MI. As a therapist, Stephanie specializes in anxiety, self-care, trauma, sexuality, polyamorous relationships, and other forms of consensual non-monogamy. She also offers speaking engagements, education, and consultation.

Additional Information

Instruction Level
This course is meant for an intermediate to advanced audience.

Who should Attend
Psychologists, counselors, and marriage and family therapists and social workers.

Recorded video from April 2019

Completion Requirements

After watching the video for each section, you will be able to mark it as “complete” and continue to the next section. There is a quiz at the end consisting of 24 questions. To get CE credit, you will need to take the post-test with at least a 80% score in order to receive your certificate for a homestudy course.

Financial Support

The Affirmative Couch pays course presenters for their teaching. There is no other financial support for this course.

Conflict of Interest

There is no reported conflict of interest or outside commercial support for this course.

Contact Information

For any inquiries related to subject matter, problem resolution, corrections, grievances, or anything else, please contact us.


The Affirmative Couch will work to accommodate reasonable accommodations requests. Requests can be emailed with “accommodation request” in the subject line. Requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.


Excellent program!  I learned so much!  I work with many polyamorous clients but am monogamous myself and was hoping to find a workshop to help me see my blindspots.  I feel this workshop helped me do that.  Thank you!

It was a wonderfully helpful course.

I loved the vignettes. They were extremely helpful in thinking through the information imparted. I also appreciated the pause the video moments for reflection

It was well presented. I really appreciated the content, and everything was laid out in a way that it was very understandable, and digestible. 

I learned so much!

Very informative especially for people who need the 101s of polyamory & polyam couples

This was a fantastic intro course to polyamory! I learned a ton.

This course expanded my knowledge of polyamory extensively. I feel much more competent, as a clinician, that I will be able to provide a safe and open space for my clients in consensual non-monogamous relationships.

Information on terms, relationship structures, agreements and differentiation around jealousy, compersion and abuse were all very helpful.  These are all helpful in supporting my work with non-monogamous clients.

Really enjoyed it. The information on terminology was very helpful and helped me learn a lot. The focus on managing jealousy was VERY helpful even for clients not in polyamorous relationships.

Offered content that some of us never learned or thought about in school 🙂

Overall the course was well done. I have attended several trainings on working with poly clients and learned new information here. I like how well everything was cited.

Very informative and on a topic that I have very little previous knowledge of.

Almost everything I learned was new which is great. They do not teach this in graduate school and because I want to specialize in relationships, it is important that I know how to address the unique stressors that this population encounters.

I learned things to look for in poly relationships and how to distinguish between what may be a red flag and what may just need to be worked on.  Additionally, I learned ways to challenge my personal biases.


Other Courses by Stephanie M. Sullivan

Text "Multiplicities of Desire: Working with the Intersection of Bisexuality and Polyamory Presented by Stephanie M. Sullivan, MS, LLMFT, 3 CE Course" under a bisexual flag with three white unicorns representing how many bisexual polyamorous women are called unicorns and how therapy can help bisexual polyamorous clients manage stressors


Text "Feminist Structural Family Therapy with Polyamorous Clients presented by Stephanie M. Sullivan, MS, LLMFT & John Wall MS, ALMT 2.5 CE Course" under an image of several rows and columns of people's faces intersected with dotted lines to represent a genogram within a polyamorous family         

APA Approved
The Affirmative Couch, LLC is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Affirmative Couch, LLC maintains responsibility for this program and its content.


Polyamorous Clients in Therapy: What You Didn’t Know You Needed to Know

$90 $45

Read more

Licensed therapists who work in nonprofits price is $60 $35. (Enter code npocoupon at checkout)

Student/unlicensed price is  $30 $25. (Enter code plcoupon at checkout)

This course will be archived on March 15, 2024


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