Making Friends with Jealousy: Therapy with Polyamorous Clients
For the past 40 years I have been studying, refl ecting on, writing about, and practicing therapy on the subject of living in sexually open relationships and dealing with jealousy. In this chapter I would like to share some of my experience and thoughts on how to work with clients living in these lifestyles, and on how to fi nd equanimity in the intense emotional storms named jealousy. My own theoretical approach to the nature of jealousy will be woven through the chapter, but the focus is on practical guidance which may help other therapists working in such areas. Particularly, I will share interventions that have been useful to clients coming out into polyamorous lifestyles. This should be of interest to academics, as well as practitioners. Few therapists have had experience with clients who explicitly wish to unlearn sexual jealousy, and there has been little research on the subject (see Clanton & Smith, 1977 and White & Mullen, 1989 for some earlier work in this area). Recently, interest in the topic has grown among clients and clinicians as well as in the literature. My own book on open relationships, The Ethical Slut (Easton & Liszt, 1997), has been drawn on and referenced in many recent publications (e.g. Barker, 2004; Klesse, 2007b, and many of the contributors to Haritaworn, Lin & Klesse, 2006, and the current collection). The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships and Other Adventures has come out in a new, expanded edition (Easton & Hardy, 2009).