Building towards plurisexual health equity: Exploring impacts of partner sexual orientation identity and counselling experiences on plurisexuals
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Research indicates that plurisexuals experience a range of health inequities, faring worse on several indicators of mental health and well-being as compared to both their heterosexual and gay/lesbian counterparts. They also report elevated rates of unmet mental health needs as compared to other populations in Canada. It is therefore important that counsellors are able to understand the distinct factors that may shape plurisexual client experiences both inside and outside of the therapeutic environment. Drawing on an interpretative phenomenological analysis methodology, the study uses semi-structured interviews with optional post-interview reflections of six plurisexual participants. A central aim of the study is to examine how plurisexual mental health disparities might be informed by the variable of partner sexual orientation identity and the dynamics of mixed- and same-orientation relationships. In addition, it examines how plurisexual participants conceptualize the factors that contribute to creating safe and supportive counselling environments that account for the distinct needs of plurisexual populations. Results suggest that partner sexual orientation identity shapes the mental health risk and resilience environments available to plurisexuals, with mixed- and same- orientation relationships offering different positive impacts and challenges. Moreover, the results indicate that monosexism is a central factor that influences how plurisexuals navigate different interactions, including how they seek out and engage with counsellors in therapy. Findings are examined with specific attention towards their relation to Meyer’s minority stress model, the interplay with partner gender/sex, and the role of microcommunications. Additionally, recommendations are discussed regarding how the findings can inform plurisexual-affirming clinical practice and future research.