Same-sex couples face challenges similar to those of straight couples, aside from challenges with sexual orientation. LGBT couples counseling can help gay and lesbian couples navigate the various hurdles of being in a same-sex relationship.
Additionally, a couple’s therapist can help gay couples learn how to increase intimacy and develop a therapeutic alliance, especially in open relationships. Counseling also helps:
- Create strategies for staying connected for a more fulfilling long-term relationship
- Deal with the fundamental differences
- Regulate their emotional responses during disagreements
- Find healing after divorce, grief, and infidelity, and
- Communicate more efficiently.
Guide To LGBT Relationship Counseling
Couples counseling provides the framework and guidance for spouses to discuss all kinds of issues ranging from finances to childbearing. They include:
- Grief and loss
- Breakdown in communication
- Domestic violence
- Alienation by family and friends, and
- Divorce and separation.
Consult with your partner so that each party is comfortable with going to therapy. What’s more, ensure the therapist you settle on is not only gay friendly but is experienced and educated in providing lesbian and gay therapy services. A typical therapy session involves therapists asking questions to both parties and allowing them to share their perspectives on the challenges they face.
The couple’s therapist acts as a neutral party, offering impartial and honest observations and sometimes advice along the way. The therapist may also incorporate activities in the session to improve clear communication or intervene when arguments arise.
What Approaches Are Used in Counseling Same-Sex Couples?
Affirmative therapy is a therapeutic approach used in psychotherapy for same-sex couples where the counselor validates and gently guides the client towards self-acceptance. The strategy focuses more on gay and lesbian couples. It also helps individuals become comfortable in their identity and not let their sexual orientation limit their attempts at embracing self-actualization.
Behavioral therapy is used to tackle various problems, including eating disorders and relationship/marital issues. It focuses on the individual recognizing and reevaluating any distortions in their thought and behaviors. Couples also get a better understanding of their behavior and learn coping and communication skills.
Emotionally Focused Therapy
It was developed in the ‘80s and focused on the couple’s emotions. It aims to cultivate and strengthen a secure bond between individuals in a relationship. The approach is excellent at helping couples address pending concerns in their marriage while maintaining a secure bond.
This approach is popular in gay couples therapy and is excellent in improving communication, thus minimizing arguments and developing intimacy and affection. With the Gottman method, couples therapists teach individuals how to improve the quality of their partnerships, ensuring individuals feel heard and seen.
Imago Relationship Therapy
IRT uses an entirely different approach compared to other standard psychotherapeutic techniques. The therapist encourages conflict within the relationship as an opening for healing. It relies on one’s self-image in relation to love and romance.
It’s effective for those in committed relationships and encourages them to examine their history and its influence on their dating patterns and choices.
By analyzing yourself, you identify any blind spots and old wounds that might negatively affect your relationships.
Gay or Lesbian Relationship Issues Addressed in Relationship Counseling
Couples therapy is beneficial at teaching LGBT couples how to address and deal with various sources of conflict in the relationship. Navigating through life and society as a member of the LGBTQ community is hard enough without the additional stresses of being in a commitment.
Marriage counseling teaches gay couples new skills designed to deepen the connection between husband/wife. A couples therapist teaches them the basics of a healthy relationship, such as healthy boundaries, vulnerability, and good communication. Gay/Lesbian couples counseling and LGBTQ counseling (see premarital counseling here) as a whole help individuals address the various challenges common in a same-sex couple. These include:
Society’s heteronormative attitude can make it difficult for LGBTQ couples to thrive. According to traditional gender roles, men are expected to provide and protect while women are considered caregivers and nurturers. Conversely, gay men and LGBTQ couples do not adhere to said gender roles and can cause friction with intolerant and homophobic members of society.
Stigma and Discrimination
Gay couples therapy is instrumental in helping couples tackle concerns such as stigma and discrimination from society. Gay men tend to experience more hostility and, sometimes, physical harm due to HIV/AIDS-related stereotypes than lesbian couples.
Abandonment and alienation by friends and families also contribute to the stress associated with a lack of support by society. LGBT counseling can help individuals work through such traumatic events using therapeutic approaches such as talk therapy and CBT.
Relationship Stage Differences
Gay and lesbian couples navigate through attraction and romance differently from heterosexual couples. As a result, the differences in development in terms of identity and sexuality can sometimes clash, resulting in one partner getting jealous and doubting their loyalty. However, with therapy, couples can learn how to be open and connect without conflict.
Can LGBT Relationship Counseling Help Save My Lesbian Relationship?
Lesbian and gay couples counseling offers meaningful guidance and solutions for couples going through a rough patch. Personal struggles can sometimes make it hard to manage emotions, causing strain in a marriage.
Many couples face challenges in maintaining intimacy in their relationships. Couples therapists are exceptionally skilled at helping couples maneuver through the various life challenges in their relationships.
Couples therapy can help tackle common lesbian relationships issues such as:
Lesbian Bed Death
The term is used to describe the decline in intimacy and passion in lesbians in long-term relationships. Such couples will report having less sex or none at all. The physical aspects of such relationships can be described as waning or non-existent.
A therapist will provide valuable advice and pointers on staying connected and bringing the spice back into the union.
U hauling is an offensive term used to describe the rapid succession of relationship stages observed in most lesbian couples.
Lack Of Social Support
Lesbians, gay men, and other members of the LGBTQ community face additional stress from stigma and discrimination as a result of their sexuality.
Problems With Intimacy
it’s a common issue in long-term lesbian partnerships, especially those with children. The therapist will suggest activities they can do to liven up the relationship.
Where Can I Find A Therapist Who Specializes in Same-Sex Relationship Issues?
The Internet is a great place to start; there are several listings online for mental health professionals specializing in same-sex relationships. You can filter your search according to your preferences.
Similarly, the LGBTQ community is also an excellent source. The best place to look is in the pages and groups on social media. They can recommend suitable therapists, or you could ask allies around you for places that offer LGBTQ therapy.
For same-sex partners, marriage counseling is vital not only for conflict resolution but as a tool to improve various aspects such as emotional connection and openness. With therapy, couples can save their relationships and ensure each partner feels seen, heard, and validated.