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):
[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.
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).
Amy C. Moors
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):
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.
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:
Charles Moser, PhD, MD
Dave Doleshal, Ph.D.
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.