Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

February 8, 2019

Psychology task force on polyamory & CNM is off to a roaring start

The American Psychological Association (APA) has a Division 44 that deals with LGBTQ and gender issues. Within it, as reported here earlier, Heath Schechinger and Amy Moors are spearheading a task force to overhaul therapists' understand of polyamory and other forms of consensual non-monogamy (CNM). The intent is to train America's psych professionals to serve CNM clients well, which often does not happen now.

Schechinger recently posted a progress report to the Polyamory Leadership Network (the emphases are mine):

Heath Schechinger
[In January] I had the privilege of representing the Consensual Non-monogamy Task Force at the bi-annual Executive Committee meeting of the Society for Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity (APA Division 44). It was clear throughout the two-day meeting that Division 44 is supportive of the CNM Task Force and our initiatives.

I was thrilled by the gestures of support, with many going out of their way to express their excitement, acknowledge awareness of the historical significance of the Task Force, and/or their desire for the CNM Task Force to become a Standing Committee ensuring ongoing representation.

Amy C. Moors
They also unanimously approved our Task Force a year ago (as well as our modest budget proposal this year), were supportive of our petition to support relationship diversity, and asked me to do a Q&A in their newsletter to highlight the Task Force and de-mystify the process of getting involved with Division 44. The incoming editor expressed interest in receiving CNM research for the Div 44 academic journal, Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity (PSOGD).

It was clear they were not merely tolerating us, but celebrating our presence. This seems to highlight the shift we are witnessing in the non-monogamy movement, as one of the most powerful psychology organizations in the world is demonstrating a clear interest in addressing monosexism and acknowledging the historical erasure of non-monosexual relationship structures.

We also have 75 volunteers who are contributing to our 12 Initiatives. The co-leads [Schechinger and Moors] have identified their goals and are in the process of contacting their contributors to strategize their efforts to accomplish their goals.

And what are those initiatives? Here's the current list (also available as a better formatted PDF with an introduction):

1. Consensual Non-monogamy Fact Sheet  (Lead: Amy Moors, Ph.D. & Heath Schechinger, Ph.D.). An easy-to-read infographic that provides helpful information about CNM, including a definition, stats, dispelled myths, and recommendations for further reading.

2. Healthcare Brochures  (Co-leads: Michelle Vaughan, Ph.D. & Heath Schechinger, Ph.D.).  Resources designed to educate medical and mental health providers about consensual non-monogamy.
3. Consensual Non-monogamy Inclusive Practices Tool (Lead: Heath Schechinger, Ph.D.). A benchmarking tool to highlight inclusive clinical practices and policies related to equity and inclusion for people engaged in CNM.
4. Therapist Recommendations (Co-leads: Heath Schechinger, Ph.D., Dossie Easton, Geri Weitzman, Ph.D., & Amy Moors, Ph.D.). This team is creating a guide with empirically informed recommendations for therapists working with clients who engage in consensual non-monogamy.
5. CNM Literature Project (Co-leads: Daniel Cardoso, Ph.D. & Michelle Vaughan, Ph.D.). This team is creating and supporting resources designed to summarize, index, and organize peer-reviewed and historic CNM literature that can be used by researchers, educators, and clinicians. These resources include the Consensual Non-monogamies Literature List and the Kenneth R. Haslam Collection on Polyamory.
6. Special Call Campaign (Co-leads: Lisa Dawn Hamilton, Ph.D., Sharon Flicker, Ph.D., Daniel Cardoso,
Ph.D., & Ashley Thompson, Ph.D.). This team is responsible for organizing special calls (e.g., journal issues, conference symposia) related to consensual non-monogamies.
7. Intersecting Identities Campaign (Co-leads: Leonore Tjia, M.A., Roberto Abreu, Ph.D., & Christopher Stults, Ph.D.). This team is promoting awareness of issues facing individuals engaged in consensual non-monogamy with multiple marginalized identities through writing a peer-reviewed paper on the topic, compiling a list of advocacy groups that work intersecting CNM identities, and challenging common homogeneous narratives about CNM.
8. LGBTQ Resources Campaign (Co-leads: Dawn Brown, M.S. & Stephen Forssell, Ph.D.). This team will work with local and national LGBTQ leaders to increase CNM representation in LGBTQ resources. They are creating resources addressing the intersection of CNM and LGBTQ identities and providing recommendations for how to can be inclusive of CNM.
9. Legal Issues Campaign (Ashley Thompson, Ph.D. & Ryan Witherspoon, Ph.D.). This team is committed to addressing legal and discrimination issues related to consensual non-monogamy, such as the effects of stigma and discrimination and the implications for family law and employment discrimination, as well as CNM being a protected status. This team is producing a peer-reviewed paper.

10. Healthcare Provider Directory Campaign (Co-leads: Heath Schechinger, Ph.D., Bree Zimmerman, M.A., & Deanna Richards, Ed.M.): This team is dedicated to removing barriers to accessing culturally competent care through organizing a campaign to include consensual non-monogamy (and/or related terms) on healthcare provider locator directories.
11. Inclusive Education Campaign (Co-leads: Lisa Dawn Hamilton, Ph.D. & Apryl Alexander, Psy.D.). This is developing a pledge campaign to promote CNM inclusion in education and training programs. One project will include recruiting educators to pledge being inclusive of consensual non-monogamy in their courses. They will maintain a database and promote awareness of individuals and organizations who pledge in order to increase visibility and advocate for inclusion.
12. Inclusive Demographic Forms Campaign (Co-leads: Jen Rafacz, Ph.D. & Rachel Ann Kieran, Psy.D. This team is committed to increasing awareness about including relationship status/structure (e.g., monogamous, polyamorous) on client history/intake and demographic forms. A couple initiatives of this group include writing an article addressing inclusive demographic forms, organizing a pledge campaign, and providing sample language for assessing relationship style on demographic forms.

Advisory Board Our Advisory Board consists of individuals with substantial experience in a particular domain (e.g., therapy, public outreach, research) who have made themselves available to provide consultation and guidance to the Task Force Co-chairs and project Leads. Our network of advisors include:
Alan MacRobert
Charles Moser, PhD, MD
Cris Beasley
Cunning Minx
Dave Doleshal, Ph.D.
Dossie Easton
Elisabeth Sheff, Ph.D.
Jes Matsick, Ph.D.
John Sakaluk, Ph.D.
Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D.
Richard Sprott, Ph.D.
Susan Wright, M.A.


It's wonderful to see such an ambitious poly-awareness initiative take hold and advance inside a powerful professional organization.

Looking back, most of what the our movement has accomplished in the last 30 years has been done by amateur volunteers with irregular time and energy, little coordination, and lack of money or organizational structures to carry out big ideas.

As for money: it's amazing that even on pathetic financial shoestrings, we've spread understanding across the Western world about, for most people in mainstream society, a huge new "impossible" idea: that successful, ethical multi-love relationships are entirely possible and actually happening among the many who are suited for it, and who access hard-won poly community wisdom about what works. The "polyamorous possibility" (Eli Sheff's phrase) has become much more widely known. And once known, it is remembered.

But with more people encountering the idea and considering it for themselves, more people need the knowledge and community support to not screw it up. And, more people are likely to face job discrimination, housing discrimination, and official ignorance in court. As the movement grows, the needed work grows.

No dollar donation specifically aimed toward poly awareness and support has ever, anywhere, exceeded four figures to my knowledge1 — with one big exception. That was when Robyn Trask purchased Loving More in 2004 when it was a for-profit print magazine heading toward extinction. She then sacrificed her investment to turn Loving More into the nonprofit organization it is today, so that its advocacy, support efforts, and conferences could survive and thrive. She has also personally made up a number of its financial shortfalls.

So, 15 years later, here I am riding a train to Loving More's 14th annual Poly Living conference in Philadelphia. Everyone who is involved in modern polyamory enough to be reading this site owes Robyn more than you may know, whether that debt is once or twice or ten times removed.


1. Am I wrong? Please share in the comments here.


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Blogger Unknown said...

Please include Kenya Stevens of Jujumama LLC (jla.jujumama.com) on your taskforce. She is an African-American woman, wife of 23 years, mother of 3 (1 adult child, 2 teenagers) and has been living and breathing open relating for the past 13 years of her 23 year marriage. She's also a Love Coach (13 years) and has greatly expanded the dialogue around open relating (particularly amongst African-Americans and black people throughout the diaspora). Her voice and her message are needed in this forum.

February 20, 2019 10:24 AM  

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