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Many of the members of Poly Counselling UK are able to provide training for counsellors, therapists and other practitioners who want to build their expertise in this area. Contact us through the members list for details.

The synopses below give an idea of two of the training sessions which are possible.

Working with openly non-monogamous relationships

Duration: One Day

Overview: This day will introduce the diversity of types of openly non-monogamous relationships which are found in the UK, focusing on the most common versions: swinging, open relationships and polyamory (having multiple relationships). These kinds of relationships will be situated in the current cultural context of shifting relationship rules which we will explore more broadly in terms of the impact that this has on our clients. Research will be introduced covering the motivations that people have for engaging in open non-monogamy, and we will outline the structures of relationship that are possible. We will then spend some time examining the kinds of contracts and arrangements that people put in place in openly non-monogamous relationships and what the aims of these are. We will also look at the language of non-monogamy which has developed in order for people to make sense of their relationships. Towards the end of the day we will look at the relationships that fall somewhere between monogamy and non-monogamy and begin to question whether this distinction is, indeed, a useful one. The possibility of monogamy continuua will be introduced as a useful basis for working with all clients around such issues. As well as thinking about how we might work with individuals and couples who are non-monogamous, we will explore the ways in which larger polyamorous groups might engage in therapy.


  • To introduce the variety of forms of open non-monogamy common in the UK today,
  • To situate this in a cultural context, considering the shifting rules of monogamy in relationships
  • To explore the kinds of arrangements which non-monogamous people might be in, or be considering, and their potential motivations for this
  • To introduce the languages used by openly non-monogamous clients
  • To think about how such issues might be relevant to all clients exploring issues around monogamy
  • To develop ways of working with individuals, couples, and polyamorous groups, in relationship therapy

Course structure: 
09.30 – 10.00 Registration and Coffee
10.00 – 10.30 Introductions and experiences of open non-monogamy (clients, media, friends, etc.)
10.30 – 11.30 Cultural context: The rules of monogamy
11.30 – 11.45 Coffee
11.45 – 12.15 Doing it differently: Styles of open non-monogamy, motivations for non-monogamy
12.15 – 13.00 Case study discussion: Clients considering opening up their relationship
13.00 – 14.00 Lunch
14.00 – 14.30 Contracts, arrangements and the language of non-monogamy
14.30 – 15.00 Case study discussion: Negotiating the contract
15.00 – 15.30 Monogamy continua
15.30 – 16.00 Case study discussion: Working beyond the couple
16.00 – 16.30 Final discussion and questions


Working with common tensions in non/monogamous relationships

Duration: One day

Overview: This day follows on from the first session, which outlined the main types of openly non-monogamous relationships and began to question the distinctions we have between monogamy and non-monogamy (suggesting that a continuum may be a more useful model). Having explored, previously, how to work with people considering opening up their relationships and thinking about their arrangements, this session focuses in more on specific issues and how they may play out on relationships on the spectrum from monogamy to non-monogamy.
The day will be grounded in the key tension underlying romantic relationships: that between freedom and belonging. We will outline the existential understanding of this tension and consider how it plays out on the monogamy continua and also in relation to issues such as privacy, boundaries, commitment, values, time, and space, in relationships. Following this we will focus on jealousy as a key form of conflict and explore the related issue of how people treat themselves and others. What are people looking for from others in relationships? May the grasp for that as hard in non-monogamous relationships as they do in monogamous ones? We will consider the different between objectifying relationships and mutual relationships. We will think about problems of rigid rules, and the importance of self-care, as well as how to deal with relationship conflict and break-up.
In the afternoon we will turn to two key aspects of relationships: sex and gender. We will consider the relationship between different sexualities and different styles of relating, as well as the role of various sexual practices in non/monogamous relationship (such as group sex, partner-swapping, and BDSM) and how these things work. Turning to gender we will look at the double-standard of sexuality, implications of non-monogamy for men and women, and also the potential of non-monogamy for opening up multiple experiences of gender.


  • To expand competency in working with people in non/monogamous relationships by focusing on key issues that may be brought to therapy
  • To ground our understanding of relationship difficulties in the key tension between freedom and belonging
  • To examine how jealousy is understood and worked with in non-monogamous relationships
  • To consider how people relate to themselves, and others, in non/monogamous relationships and how this may be shifted
  • To explore sexual issues in non/monogamous relationships, particularly those relating to sexual identity, sexual practice, and the role of sex in the relationship
  • To explore gender in non/monogamous relationships, particularly masculinity, femininity, and the possibility of opening up gendered experience.

Course structure: 
09.30 – 10.00 Registration and Coffee
10.00 – 10.30 Introduction and recap of previous session
10.30 – 11.00 The key tension in relationships: freedom and belonging
11.00 – 11.30 Case studies: Working with clients around freedom/belonging
11.30 – 11.45 Coffee
11.45 – 12.05 Jealousy in non/monogamous relationships
12.05 – 12.20 Case studies: Working with jealous in non/monogamous relationships
12.20 – 12.40 Relationships to self/other in non/monogamous relationships
12.40 – 13.00 Case studies: Working with conflicts and relation to self/other
13.00 – 14.00 Lunch
14.00 – 14.30 Gender in non/monogamous relationships: femininity, masculinity, trans and non/monogamy
14.30 – 15.00 Case studies: Working with gender roles in non/monogamous relationships
15.00 – 15.30 Sex in non/monogamous relationships: sexual identity and non-monogamy, BDSM and kink, asexuality, sexual issues
15.30 – 16.00 Case studies: Working with sexual issues in non/monogamous relationships
16.00 – 16.30 Final discussion and questions


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