Understanding Polyamory

Understanding Polyamory

An interview with Dana McNeil, LMFT, about polyamory and ethical non-monogamy. Curt and Katie talk with Dana about the basics that every therapist should understand about polyamory. We cover some of the vocabulary, the values and perspectives within the polyamory community, as well as the biases many therapists hold and what therapists often get wrong when working with polyamorous clients.

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

Interview with Dana McNeil Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Co-Founder of Confident Couples Therapist

Dana McNeil is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and is the founder The Relationship Place, a group practice located in San Diego, California. Dana’s practice specializes in couples’ therapy and utilizes an evidence-based type of couples’ therapy which is known as the Gottman Method. Dana is a certified Gottman Method therapist and Bringing Home Baby instructor.  Dana’s practice works with all types of relationship issues from pre-marital counseling, dealing with the aftermath of extramarital affairs, partners working through addiction recovery, military deployed families, parents of special needs children, LGBTQ, and polyamorous clients.

Dana has been featured on many relationship podcasts and in publications such as the Business Insider, Authority Magazine, Eat This-Not That, Parade, Oprah Living, Martha Stewart Living, Ladders, AARP, and is the resident relationship expert on the Cox Communications show “I Do.”

Dana is also the co-founder of Confident Couples Therapist, a consultation and training program. She and her partner Nancy Ryan teach the tips and techniques to build a successful cash pay practice working with couples.

In this episode we talk about:

  • Polyamory and ethical non-monogamy (ENM)
  • The faulty assumption that therapists don’t have skills to work with polyamorous clients
  • The complexity of the non-monogamous relationships
  • Jealousy versus compersion
  • Metamour, Polycule, and new relationship energy
  • The goals and aspirations within the polyamorous community
  • The underlying reasons for entering into polyamorous relationships
  • The poly identity and lifestyle
  • Typical biases therapists hold related to ethical non-monogamy
  • The difference between boundaries and rules and agreements
  • The negative tone that can express bias to client
  • Dana’s use of the Gottman method with ENM clients
  • The reality of how ENM relationships – emotional and practical logistics
  • The importance of transparency, clear communication within these relationships
  • Considerations related to when members of the polycule are parents, who and how they are introduced to children
  • Sex, fluid bonding, protection and testing
  • Swingers have sex as sport, open relationships are sexual, poly relationships may be for love and romance and not sex
  • The stigma and misunderstanding that these individuals may face

A Message from Therapy Reimagined:

Therapy Reimagined 2021 – The Modern Therapist Conference

Therapy Reimagined 2021 will be held virtually again this year September 23-25th! We are looking for fresh, diverse voices to speak on topics that often aren’t covered in grad school or in other continuing education platforms.

Our learning tracks:

  1. Business and Technology
  2. Ways of Being (focused on the therapist)
  3. Ways of Doing (focused on innovative treatment and populations who are often ignored by our profession).
  4. Misfits, Outliers, Subversives, and Skeptics: Challenging the Status Quo


Learn more here: https://therapyreimaginedconference.com/become-a-speaker/

Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Website: https://danamcneil.com (https://confidentcouplestherapist.com has been taken down)

Facebook: @confidentcouplestherapy

Instagram: @confidentccouplestherapist

Website: http://www.sdrelationshipplace.com

Facebook: @sdrelationshipplace

Instagram: @sdrelationshipplace

The Ethical Slut by Janet W. Hardy

More Than Two by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert

Relevant Episodes:

Privileged and Biased

Connect with us!

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

Get Notified About Therapy Reimagined Conferences

Our consultation services:

The Fifty-Minute Hour

Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at: http://www.curtwidhalm.com

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also Past President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at: http://www.katievernoy.com

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch:



Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapist’s Group





Voice Over by DW McCann https://www.facebook.com/McCannDW/

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano http://www.crystalmangano.com/

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