The LGBTIQ community is misunderstood in may ways, not only by society and one’s community, but in one’s own home by the parents, siblings, and other associated extended family members. This causes anxiety, stress, and depression to the individual because of the fear of what the family will decide. Disownment from ones own parents is a hard situation for one to be in and depending on the individual’s age, could produce irreversible damage to that individual’s behavior, way of living, and mental status. Structured family therapy is in place to help families work with the situation. This enforces support and understanding among all individuals involved and can help create a nurturing, loving, accepting environment for everyone involved.The distinction between individuals who are LGBTIQ are difficult to understand and a precise definition of each is explained along with family structures. This is to help inform everyone of the family system with the addition of same sex relationships and gain a further understanding of children in this situation. Psychology is faced with different problem with therapists having an open, understanding mind about the changes in the environment and human behavior that has come to the attention of the public. Some individuals are still not open about the situation (which could have something to do with the individuals religious background and faith) but the majority of the individuals are interested and want to learn more about these individuals. If a therapist falls into the first category, he or she should refer the individual out to another therapist because the therapist has a bias view point and can do more harm than good toward the individual.
Lesbian- The term lesbian was rumored to originate from an island called Lesbos, which is the third largest island in Greece. It is said that in ancient times, women were more important than males and males had little use (Merriam-Webster). This term still means the same today as it did in ancient Greece, relating to homosexuality between the female population (Plante, 2011).Gay- The term gay can relate to different circumstances and is often confusing. When the word gay was first used, it related terms such as happy, merry, and joyous. For example, Christmas is a gay season. In modern times, such as 2013, most individuals use the word gay as slang that does not mean happy or joyous. In fact, it is the exact opposite, usually meaning lame, boring, or out-of-date (Merriam-Webster). The gay community in the LGBTIQ refers mainly to the homosexuality between two male partners (Plante, 2011).Bisexual- This term is defined in two completely different ways. The first referrers to a hermaphrodite, which is a human who was born containing the sexual organs of both man and woman. The second, and most commonly known and understood by the general population is an individual who is attracted to both males and females, with no sexual preferences (Plante, 2011).Transgender- This relates to an individual who identifies with, or expresses gender identity issues. Basically the individual sees or understands him or her self as the opposite gender in which he or she was born into (Merriam-Webster). A human whose five characteristics are not either all typically male or all typically female are intersexed.Intersex- When a human is born, there are 5 categories tested that determine if the sex of the child is male or female on the birth records. These categories seem simple to most individuals by looking at the genital region of the baby. This is not as simple as one may think. First, the baby is tested for the number and type of sex chromosomes. Second is the type of gonads, which are usually either ovaries or testicles. The third test involves the sex hormones themselves. Fourth factor involves the reproductive organs, such as the uterus in females. Lastly, involved the examination of the babies external genitalia (Merriam-Webster). Queer- This term was first used to identify something that was strange or unusual. In 2013, it is an umbrella term that covers all of the sexual and gender minorities described above (Merriam-Webster).
Structured Family Therapy (SFT) is found on the notion that a disorder is not entirely the fault of a single individual. The problem must be examined in a contemporary social context. This involves the immediate family, extended family, friends, and any other social or physical activity that effect the individual and the family (Plante, 2011). Family systems as defined by Minuchin (1974), “family structure is the invisible set of functional demands that organizes the ways in which family members interact. A family is a system that operates through transactional patterns. Repeated transactions establish patterns of how, when, and with whom to relate, and these patterns underpin the system.” When understanding the concept of structure, one must also understand the concept of boundaries. Boundaries describe the pattern between members of a system to the exclusion of others. SFT tries to find the organization within a household or family and help the individuals involved understand his or her roles. For example: the parent, the siblings, the family unit as a whole, and the individual. Once each individual understands his or her role within the system, the system can work together as a whole (Plante, 2011).
An issue related to the change in family structure is lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. The populations that are most affected by this issue include lesbian and gay couples, heterosexual individuals and couples, religious groups, and politicians. Lesbian and gay couples have made a change in the typical family structure even adopting and maintaining a marriage-like relationship. Heterosexual populations are obviously affected because they make up the norm and choose to either accept this lifestyle or not. These groups also affect religious groups because they often take stances against the lifestyle (Oliveto, 2002). One group that is uniquely affected are politicians because of the strides they have made for or against the homosexual/transgender population.
The populations most effected by the issue of changes to family structure include different groups. One of those groups includes married couples (the norm) with children of his and her own. This also includes single individuals because they are marrying at a later age (Plate, 2011). Single parents also fit this category. Those couples that are cohabitating prior to marriage can also fit this change in family structure because this is an ever-increasing trend to live with your partner prior to marriage. Remarried couples and those divorced will fit this category because 50% of the population currently gets divorced.
LEBTIQ affects on psychology- In 2000, the APA adopted guidelines to help individuals who suffered from sexual disorders. In 2011, the APA still kept psychotherapy but removed the over-all stigma of a disorder from the APA guidelines. The APA established 21 guidelines for psychologists to provide the correct procedures to an already touchy subject. The psychologists attitude toward homosexuality and bisexuality should be unbiased and open to exploration (APA, 2008). These guideline set forth by APA standards seem to help therapists understand that just because someone is gay, lesbian, or bisexual he or she is most definitely a human being and should be treated as such.Attitudes Toward Homosexuality and Bisexuality1. The therapist needs to understand the stigma behind the label. The violence, discrimination, and prejudice these people experience every day should not be present in a therapy session.Being an individual in this category does not indicate a mental illness is present.One cannot change human sexuality and the feelings for the same sex are normal.If a therapist has mixed emotions about the gay and lesbian community, he or she should provide the individual with a referral instead of taking on a client they are not comfortable helping.The therapist must recognize and try to understand the uniqueness if the experiences of bisexual individuals.The therapist should distinguish issues related to sexual orientation from those related to gender identity when working with an individual who is bisexual, lesbian, or gay.Relationships and Families7. Therapists need to respect the importance of gay, lesbian, and bisexual relationships.8. Understand challenges and experiences faced by the parents of gay, lesbian, and bisexual children.9. Recognize that the family also includes extended family members who may not be a direct relation.10. The therapist should understand the way an individual’s sexual orientation affects the family, either directly or indirectly.Issues of Diversity11. Therapists must recognize the challenges related to multiple and often conflicting norms, values, and beliefs faced by lesbian, gay, and bisexual members of racial and ethnic minority groups.12. Consideration of influences contributed by religion,spirituality, and other beliefs.13. Recognizing cohort and age differences among lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals.14. Understanding the uniqueness of risks and problems in existence for gay, lesbian, and bisexual youths.15. Recognize the challenges among the individuals who have physical, cognitive-emotional, or sensory disabilities.16. Understand the impact of HIV/AIDS on the lives of these individuals and the communities he or she resides in.Economic and Workplace Issues17. The therapist should consider the importance of the individuals socioeconomic status in relation to the physical well being of the individual.18. Understanding of the uniqueness of workplace issues that exist.Education and Training19. Psychologists strive to include lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues in professional education and training.20. Psychologists are encouraged to increase their knowledge and understanding of homosexuality and bisexuality through continuing education, training, supervision, and consultation.ResearchIn guideline 21, the use and dissemination of research on sexual orientation and related issues, psychologists strive to represent results fully and accurately and to be mindful of the potential misuse or misrepresentation of research findings (APA, 2008).
Clinical psychologists must be aware of and sensitive to the changing face of, what is considered- the typical family. A married couple living with their own children is considered the “minority” of families. Divorce and remarriage are commonplace, and many households include single or remarried parents with blended families. Other changes to the typical American family include children and parents of mixed ethnicity, race, or religion, as well as gay and lesbian parents, single parents, and straight parents with gay and lesbian children. Families in these situations have unique needs and concerns that need a unique touch to help the family values structure (Plante, 2011).
A challenge in treatment options for Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender are a lack of integrations between medical doctors and psychological treatment facilitators. In particular, transgender patients are often times medically required to receive psychological assessment and treatment prior to, throughout, and post operation, and when the communication between professionals is not taking place, the patient may have feelings of that he or she are misunderstood or misrepresented or may experience mixed or conflicting information. Transgender assignment surgery is paired with a multitude of physical issues, such as hormonal side effects, liver abnormality issues and sexual dysfunction (Lee, 2001). Cross communication, and more helpful, integrated treatment are not readily available for transgender patients, thus creating a gap in treatment and a disservice and challenge in treatment for these patients as well.
Challenges in treatment options are present for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender population, but specifically the lesbian, gay, andbisexual patients experience specific challenges. Challenges that LGBT patients face when seeking treatment options can be; fear and lack of knowledge by both providers and patients can lead to suboptimal or no provision of health care (Lee, 2001). Practicing practitioners who need improvement in awareness and open minded approach, lack of desire to treat homosexuals or hostility toward them via professionals, lack of family support in general and in involvement in treatment and a lack of community outreach and acceptance.The lack of current awareness, prior bad experiences, and discrimination causes many homosexuals to not mention his or her sexuality to the psychologist or health care provider, thus creating a void for gays in health and wellness studies. With 41 out of 50 states still allowing open sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace, and many states notincluding sexual orientation as a hate crime (Lee, 2001), gay people need a safe havenat minimum in the health field, and in many instances are being failed there as well. Gay, Lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender people are faced with unique health issues, be it physical or psychological or both and arefacedwith a lack of research, awareness, concern, acceptance, insurance coverage, andcommunity outreach and support, these are treatment options that need of attention.
Helping family support his or her LGBT children can be very difficult in so many families. LGBT children may find it very difficult to reveal his or her sexual orientation to his or her family. Fear of rejection and negative behavior from his or her parents and siblings may cause a LGBT from openly sharing his or her sexual identity (Ryan, 2011). Parents and sibling of LGBT family member may be in denial or refusal of accepting his or her child or sibling is LGBT. Family rejection of an LGBT family member can affect the physical and mental well-being of an LGBT person. Families can decrease negative behavior if they are aware they are causing the LGBT family member mental issues (Ryan, 2011). However, there can be changes made to support an LGBT issues within a family structure. Communication through psychotherapy is key to help eliminate the LGBT issues to the family structure. Virginia Satir contributed to the communication approach toward the family system goal (Plante, 2011). Satir believed that family relationships are the source of great pleasure and of great pain. Satir believes that a problem experienced by one family member is the whole family’s problem. In family system therapy the LGBT family member, parents, and siblings must work together as a group to resolve the problems that each family member has concerning the LGBT issues. Family therapy will help focus on the specific problem causing distress among the entire family. Satir believed if the family members work together they can improve communication and change his or her thinking pattern toward LGBT issues. Doing so will help reshape distorted perceptions and interactions directly with the LGBT family member (Plante, 2011).
The therapist and family members work on resolving the issue and improving the entire family relationship. Additionally, programs such as PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians), assist family members in accepting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender family members (Ryan, 2009). Educating families through community and online resources on LGBT issues can help family have a better understanding on homosexuality issues. Doing so will eliminate rejection and negative behavior toward the LGBT family member. The potential changes I foresee occurring with the LGBT and family structure issues is that families will began to have an acceptance toward the LGBT community (Ryan, 2009). Therapy, education, and so many resources are available to help families come together when faced with LGBT issues. Marriages and equal rights are at the forefront for the LGBT community and are accepting around the United States. Therefore, families are becoming more accepting and the LGBT community is more comfortable in letting others know about his or her sexual identity. Therefore, I believe the changes in the family structure concerning LGBT issues will be more accepting in modern day times (Ryan, 2009).
The word “contemporary” means to do with the current time, modern, new, and in many instances this is a good thing, however, when it pertains to the medical treatment of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer community (LGBTIQ) knowledge, acceptance, and communication in the treatment of these people can be anything but up to date. When there is a world where prejudice, discrimination and lack of acceptance are still acceptable and practiced in reference to the people of the LGBTIQ community, taking measures to ensure that communications cross treatments, acceptance, community support and outreachis not only needed and missing, but it is mandatory. The more that is learned and practiced, the better the medical field can service a population of people in need.
All pictures courtesy of Google Image Search
Stacie Foss, Yolanda Johnson, Nikki Orlosky,
August 12, 2013
• Fear of loss
• Fear of identity
Structured Family Therapy
• Helps the family understand
• Be more accepting
• Help the individual
Times have changed
• Therapists must also change
• Therapy should be tailored to the individual
Gay and Lesbian individuals
• Are human beings and should be treated as such
• Deserve equal rights
• Should feel safe talking to a therapist
• American Psychological Association. (2008). Report of the APA task force on gender identity and
gender variance. Retrieved August 9, 2013 from
• Lee, R. (2000, June 17). Health care problems of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
patients. Western Journal of Medicine, 403-408. Retrieved August 9, 2013, from
• Merriam-Webster (2012). Encyclopedia Britannica Company.
• Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and Family Therapy. Harvard University Press.
• Oliveto, K. P. (2002). Movements of reform and movements of resistance:
Homosexuality and the United Methodist Church. A case study. (Order No.
3065680, Drew University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 225-225 p.
• Plante, T. (2011). Contemporary Clinical Psychology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley
• Ryan, C. (2009). Helping Families Support Their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and
Transgender (LGBT) Children. Washington, DC: National Center for Cultural
Competence, Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development.