Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples need therapists who understand the distinct quality of their relationships. While LGBT couples are similar to heterosexual couples in many ways, including a shared desire for love, connection and understanding, they often have unique challenges.
Many LGBT couples live with a number of challenges:
- They have prejudice and homophobia around them
- Their families may not accept all aspects of them as individuals and in their relationships
- They have different ways of achieving sexual connection with each other
- Relationships with friends and ex-partners can sometimes be a source of conflict
- They have to decide what equality means in the home environment, and how responsibilities are managed
- They have extra pressures and questions around types of commitment, marriage and children
Often these issues are ignored or given superficial treatment by inexperienced psychotherapists who are not familiar with the needs of LGBT couples.
At the Center for Psychological and Interpersonal Development, we work with lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender clients using Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT), a highly effective form of couples therapy. When a relationship is going well, you feel that you can turn to your partner and express things that are difficult to feel and to say, and that your partner will continue to be there for you and to accept you.
The Negative Cycle
When relationships aren’t going well, we may feel like our partner isn’t there for us when we turn to them to discuss our needs or when we need them for support. We may not even feel like they really love or accept us, and we become disconnected further from them. With EFT, we can help unlock the emotional reasons for disconnection and help change them into ways to partners connect more deeply with each other.
John and Steve (not their real names) come in with concerns around sexual differences. John says that he would like sex more than once a week, but Steve isn’t responding to his desires. John feels unsatisfied and has suggested that they open the relationship as a solution. However, Steve views this idea as a way for John to move away from him and he feels angry, so that he shuts down and refuses to have any sex with John. John in turn feels more rejected, and becomes further disconnected from Steve.
In EFT therapy, we would look at how John and Steve are acting towards each other in this fight about sex, how attachment is being disrupted between them, and how fear, sadness, loneliness and anger are expressed by each partner. We would help identify alternative approaches for them to share their fears and hopes. Often as a result of this process, a couple like John and Steve may realize that the bigger issue is one of emotional connectedness, and the sexual concerns become easier and much more manageable when the two of them feel secure with each other.