Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Psy.D. Doctor of Clinical Psychology

Academic Discipline

Clinical Psychology - Florida School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Gary Howell, Psy.D.

Second Advisor

Patricia Dixon, Psy.D.


Relationships in the United States are often assumed to adhere to heteronormative and mononormative standards, which is problematic because a significant minority of individuals are neither heterosexual nor monogamous (approximately 4.5% and 4% of the United States population, respectively). As a result of mononormative biases in particular, alternatives to monogamy, such as consensually non-monogamous relationships, are often socially stigmatized and clinically pathologized. The existing research on consensually non-monogamous individuals indicates, despite negative assumptions, those who engage in consensually non-monogamous relationships demonstrate psychological well-being, physical health, and levels of relationship satisfaction comparable to their monogamous counterparts. While engaging in consensually non- monogamous relationships is not in and of itself pathological, individuals in consensually non- monogamous relationships are often stigmatized and discriminated against by others, including the general population and healthcare providers. Furthermore, individuals in consensually non- monogamous relationships do not benefit from the legal protections (e.g., employment, housing, marriage benefits) monogamous individuals are privileged with. Therefore, bias and discrimination can lead to clinically significant psychological distress (e.g., minority stress, internalized stigma), which is unique to the consensually non-monogamous population. This distress may be compounded by multiple intersecting minority identities, lack of access to appropriate (e.g., validating, non-pathologizing) mental and physical healthcare, and perpetuation of heteronormative and mononormative biases in healthcare systems. In identifying issues that are unique to the consensually non-monogamous population and recognizing areas of growth in the mental health field, suggestions for clinical practice and systemic reform have been provided, and an inclusive intake assessment tool was created.