What is it? Affirmative Therapy: • Recognizes the importance of minority stress. • Seeks to assist in the development of a positive relationship with their sexual orientation and challenge society’s attempts to stigmatize them. • The idea of homosexuality is not a psychopathology/mental illness. (Bieschke, Perez, & DeBord, 2007) (Kort, 2008)
Application of LGBT Affirmative Therapy Application of Affirmative Therapy: • Children and adolescents—who present a desire to change either their sexual orientation or behavioral expression of their sexual orientation, or whose guardian expresses a desire for the minor to change. • Adults—who present a desire to change their sexual orientation or their behavioral expression of their sexual orientation, or both. (APA, 2009)
Delivering Ethical Affirmative Therapy Delivering Ethical Affirmative Therapy: • Do no harm and guard against conflicts of interest that would lead to the misuse of professional influence. • Helps clients to achieve their goals. • Ensures the protection and safety of clients. • Affirm issues related to sexual orientation. (APA, 2002) (Aducci & Baptist, 2011)
Guidelines For Practicing Affirmative Therapy To be an LGBT affirmative therapist: • Avoid heterosexism by minimizing heterosexists assumptions and constructs. A way to do this is by the therapist examining their own attitudes and beliefs regarding sexual orientation. • Awareness of their own identity development. • Examine identity development from a minority and majority perspective. (Bieschke, Perez, & DeBord, 2007) (Herek, 1995, p. 321)
Guidelines For Practicing Affirmative Therapy To be an LGBT affirmative therapist: • Awareness of the oppression, discrimination, and prejudices the LGBT community has faced and the stigma that is placed on their sexual orientation. • Good, working knowledge of sexual orientation identity development. • Identify social and family support systems. • Recognize that clients may experience a loss of heterosexual privilege. Loss of Institutional, Legal, and Societal freedoms • Create a refuge, a safe place. (Kort, 2008) (Bieschke, Perez, & DeBord, 2007)
Guidelines For Practicing Affirmative Therapy To be an LGBT affirmative therapist: • Current on past and present issues and concerns facing the LGBT population. • Continuing education. • Avoid assumptions: Origins of distress and reasons for treatment are not always linked to sexual orientation. • Honest and Open. • Communicate affirmation with the client. (Bieschke, Perez, & DeBord, 2007)
Guidelines For Practicing Affirmative Therapy To be an LGBT affirmative therapist: • Locate and learn about the local and regional LGBT community. Provides an opportunity for getting to know LGBT individuals Helpful in developing a more positive attitude toward the community • Provide client with resources and information. • Understand the coming out process for the client and what stage of identity development they are in. (Kort, 2008) (Herek,
Creating a Refuge A Refuge—A place of temporary respite, where some of the rules of society are suspended to allow for a different and supportive social experience. • An attitude that nurtures complex ideas about gender and sexual identity. • Suspend the rules of culture. • Therapy becomes a haven to challenge cultural norms and recognize what we know about self and others. (Stone-Fish, & Harvey, 2005)
Heterosexism/Homophobia Be aware of Heterosexist Bias. Heterosexism/ Homophobia: • The ideological system that denies, denigrates, and stigmatizes any non-heterosexual form of behavior, identity, relationship, or community.
Targeting Heterosexist/Homophobic Countertransference According to Kort (2008), heterosexual therapists should asks themselves the following: • Do I question the origins of my clients’ gayness—if not aloud, then to myself? • Do I assume that same-sex attractions have a pathological origin? Do I infer etiology rather than developmental identity formation? • Do I align with my client’s reluctance to admit being gay or lesbian? • Do I think gays and lesbians should not tell other they are gay unless they are asked? • How do I really feel about legal and religious marriage for gays and lesbians? • How do I really feel about gays parenting children? • Do I agree with complaints from gay and lesbian clients that they gay community is immature and too focused on sex and politics? • How comfortable am I talking to 10- to 15-year-olds about the possibility they are gay or lesbian? Do I assume they can’t really know their sexual orientation at that age?
Positive/Negative Transference From The Client As a heterosexual therapist, LGBT clients may display positive and negative transference around coming out. Brief guidelines: • Watch for the desire from client that they can be cured. • Realize that you are standing in for the good, accepting parent. • You may become the target of heterophobia. • Teach them to vent appropriately and respectfully as you will likely a stand-in for all heterosexists. (Kort, 2008)
ReferencesAducci, C. J., & Baptist, J. A. (2011). A Collaborative-Affirmative Approach to Supervisory Practice. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 23(2), 88-102.American Psychological Association. (2002). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. American Psychologist, 57, 1060-1073.American Psychological Association. (2009). Report of the task force on appropriate therapeutic responses to sexual orientation. Washington, DC: American Psychological AssociationBieschke, K., Perez, R., DeBord, K. (2007) Handbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Clients, 2nd Ed. Washington DC: American Psychological AssociationHerek, G. M. (1994). Assessing homosexuals’ attitudes toward lesbians and gay men. In B. Greene & G. Herek (Eds.), Psychological perspectives on lesbian issues: Vol. 1. Lesbian and gay psychology: Theory, research, and clinical applications (pp. 206-228). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Herek, G. M. (1995). Psychological heterosexism in the United States. In A. R. D’Augelli & C. J. Patterson (Eds.), Lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities over the lifespan: Psychological perspectives (pp 321-346). New York: Oxford University Press.Kort, J. (2008). Gay affirmative therapy for the straight clinician: The essential guide. New York: W.W. Norton andCompany.
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