Same-sex couples counselling
11th February, 20110 Comments
Sometimes, relationships are not all chocolates and roses. Communication breaks down, sex becomes infrequent and pressures from work and family make it seem like things will never get better.
This is where couples counselling comes in. It can be a safe space for couples to talk openly to one another with the important benefit of an impartial third party who is able to listen objectively to the different points of view being expressed. Committing to couples counselling can in and of itself be a sign of the importance of the relationship to both parties.
However, when same-sex couples seek couples counselling, all the above can be a secondary factor. The primary concern becomes whether the counsellor will understand them or make them feel that their relationship is somehow not normal. Same sex couples may seek counselling for the same reasons as heterosexual couples: to deal with infidelity, intimacy concerns, or difficulties with parents or children. But heterosexism continues to play a big role in our society, with many people, including mental health professionals, making assumptions about the sexual orientation of their clients.
So how do same-sex couples find the right counsellor for them? Firstly, as with any client looking for a counsellor, it’s important to find someone that you feel comfortable with. If you think that talking about your sexual preferences would make the counsellor ill at ease then it’s likely you’ll find it difficult to feel able to talk about the things that are really bothering you and your partner. Secondly, look for gay affirmative language. If you talk about you and your partner, does the counsellor make the assumption that your partner is of the opposite sex? Also, watch out for the “over-compensating” therapist, one who accentuates the positives without allowing room for the problems relating to sexual orientation to be engaged with effectively in the therapy.
Taking the time to think about what makes a person the right counsellor for you and your specific needs can help the whole process of therapy go more smoothly in the long run. Getting a few things right, from the beginning, such as feeling confident that you don’t have to settle for something which doesn’t feel comfortable for you, not feeling the need to protect the counsellor, and not worrying about judgements being made on you, can lead to increased understanding of yourself and your partner and increased communication between you which can help the relationship progress in the right direction.
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