Tara Baluck

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School


Committee Member

Stephen Jefferson, PhD,

Committee Member

Karen Saules, PhD

Committee Member

Heather Janisse, PhD

Committee Member

Melissa Grey, PhD


Despite a sizeable body of research demonstrating that consensual non-monogamy (CNM) is a viable alternative to monogamy, anti-CNM bias amongst individuals in the general population has been a consistent research finding. While more recent research on this topic has focused on CNM clients’ perceptions of their therapists’ cultural competence working with CNM clients, few studies have addressed therapists’ cultural competence or bias in working with these populations. At the time of this study’s proposal, only two studies were found which examined therapists’ attitudes directly, but these findings are more than 30 years old. The present study attempted to address this gap in the literature by assessing how general multicultural competence, CNM specific knowledge, and contact with CNM therapy clients are related to therapists’ attitudes of CNM. Differences in therapists’ perceptions of a fictitious client as a function of relationship orientation (e.g., monogamous, polyamorous, sexually open) were also assessed. A sample of 127 therapists and graduate student therapists-in-training was obtained. As predicted, therapists’ CNM knowledge and general multicultural competence was found to be positively associated with more favorable attitudes toward CNM and negatively associated with unfavorable ratings of a fictitious client depicted as being involved in either a polyamorous or sexually open relationship. However, there was no relationship between the number of CNM clients a therapist had worked with previously and the therapists’ evaluation of a fictitious client in a polyamorous or sexually open relationship, nor did therapists’ number of CNM clients relate to therapists’ scores on CNM attitudinal measures. Counter to what was hypothesized, therapists’ ratings of the fictitious therapy client’s symptom severity, romantic relationship dissatisfaction, and their level of discomfort/perceived incompetence in working with the client did not differ as a function of the client’s relationship orientation. Several exploratory mediating and moderating models involving CNM knowledge, CNM attitudes, and multicultural competence were tested; multicultural competence was found to be a significant mediator on the relationship between CNM knowledge and CNM attitudes.

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