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Table for More than Two: How to Manage Consensual Non-monogamy in Couple Sex Therapy (Part 1 & 2)

1h 17m

Francesca Tripodi

Psychotherapist & Sexologist

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Content and Aim: Most of us desire (and have) a “one and only”—that one person who “completes” us in every way. Humans tend to be serial monogamists, entering one sexually and romantically exclusive relationship after another. However, in consensual non-monogamous relationships, people can have several “one and only” or at least more than one sexual partner—and it is not considered cheating. The umbrella term of “consensual non-monogamy” (CNM) covers everything from the casual sex of swingers to the loving, long-term relationships of polyamorists. If it involves more than two people, sex or love, and everyone has consented, then it’s CNM. These relationships are more common than we likely think. Research shows that around 5% of adults are involved in this type of arrangement at any given time, and about one in five has engaged in some form of consensual non-monogamy in their lifetime. These relationships are also more regular than we probably imagine. Unflattering stereotypes of polyamorists as damaged, dysfunctional, or secretly coerced by pushy partners are all belied by research. Monogamy and non-monogamy may be similar in terms of outcomes and people’s demographics. However, it’s still true that CNM relationships tend to have unique habits that many clinicians simply do not know. Moreover, the clinician cannot assume that an individual presenting as a patient maintains a monogamy-valued view of their intimate relationship. Patients may experience conflict between the cultural monogamous ideal and their actual sexual behaviours. This conflict may be critical in understanding a patient’s sexual concerns and in treatment planning. Awareness of these issues will aid sexologists in their clinical practice. This course will focus on the clinical management of 3 couples presenting with a sexual problem and CNM issues. Learning Objectives: Participants will learn about and get inputs on:
    1. The different forms of consensual non-monogamy
    2. The common themes within these couples
    3. The various help requests they can ask a clinician
    4. How to orient and build a treatment plan with these couples, considering their real needs
    5. How to distinguish couples who are willing to collaborate for treatment from those who are uncertain or will manipulate the setting.
Produced in 2021

Francesca Tripodi

Psychotherapist & Sexologist
Lecturer and Supervisor

Francesca Tripodi, PsyD, ECPS, is a psychologist, graduated as clinical sexologist at the Institute of Clinical Sexology, Rome (4-years training course, integrated approach) and as psychotherapist at the Roman School of Family Psychotherapy (4-year training course, systemic approach).

She got her diploma at the Oxford School of Sexual Medicine and the title of EFS-ESSM Certified Psychosexologist (ECPS). She is currently working as a psychotherapist, sexologist, lecturer and clinical supervisor at Institute of Clinical Sexology in Rome. Her 25-years clinical experience covers a wide range of sexual issues, but her focus is primarily on female sexual dysfunction and couple therapy. She collaborates as sexual counsellor, research partner and supervisor at some public and private medical and psychological services and departments in Rome and is an active member of the Italian Federation of Scientific Sexology (FISS). Since 2013, she is co-director of and lecturer at the ESSM School of Sexual Medicine. Current member of the ESSM Educational Committee, the ESSM Scientific Committee, the EFS/ESSM Exam Committee, the European Accreditation of Psycho-sexology (EPSA), the EFS Executive and Educational Committees. Author of more than 20 original articles, she has extensive (more than 20 years) lecturing and supervising experience. She is the co-author of the “Syllabus of ESSM Sexual Medicine” (2013), and co-editor of the “EFS and ESSM Syllabus of Clinical Sexology (2014) and the “ESSM Manual of Sexual Medicine” (2015). Over the last 15 years, she participated with lectures, oral communications or poster the most important conferences and international meetings organized by the main scientific societies of sexology (EFS, WAS, ESSM), as well as other congresses in the field. Moreover, in the last 15 years she worked to improve sexual quality of life through media (TV, radio, magazines, newspapers). Reviewer for The Journal of Sexual Medicine and for the Sexual Medicine Reviews, Elsevier. Abstract reviewer for the WAS congresses (2015, 2017), EFS congresses (2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016), ESSM congress (2019). She has participated to many research projects, as scientific collaborator or coordinator. 

Her research areas are mainly: 

  • training in sexology  
  • biopsychosocial approach in sexual treatments 
  • male and female sexual dysfunctions  
  • sexual development during the life span 
  • gender identity and orientation  
  • sexuality education  
  • atypical sexual behavior, sexual preferences, paraphilias  
  • hypersexuality 


English, Italian

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