In June, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the nation. The decision was met with responses ranging from cries of joy to waves of protest that rippled through every state. More recently, the arrest of Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, served as a blatant example of how a change in law does not equal an automatic change in the mind-sets or behaviors of individuals.
As much as we would love to believe that therapists are exempt from such discriminatory mind-sets or practices, we know this not to be the case. Not all therapists are made equal when it comes to working with individuals who identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) or who are involved in same-sex partnerships.
Deciding to see a marriage counselor can be a difficult decision for any couple; inviting a stranger into your sacred partnership can feel daunting and overwhelming. Finding the right marriage counselor can be tricky, but here are some factors to consider when seeking a counselor for your same-sex relationship:
- Do a little digging. Take the time to read a variety of therapists’ bios and systems of approach prior to setting up an appointment. Does the therapist you’re researching specifically mention working with LGBT people or people in same-sex relationships? Is he or she a member of organizations that advocate for LGBT individuals’ civil and human rights? It’s worth your while to dig. Knowing a little bit about where your therapist stands and his or her level of expertise on issues that affect LGBT and same-sex couples can save you a lot of stress.
- Ask questions. It’s common practice during an intake session for a therapist to ask you and your partner questions about your lives and present concerns. Therapists do this to get a solid understanding of who you are and what you would like out of therapy. However, it does not have to be a one-way street. Do not be afraid to ask your therapist about his or her experience working with same-sex couples in the past or experience working with your particular concerns.
- Call a friend. Not everyone is comfortable revealing that he or she is receiving marriage counseling; however, asking another couple for recommendations can yield great results. Friends, family, and even coworkers can be rich referral sources and can often cut out a lot of the legwork by sharing the name of someone they think will be a good fit. Alternatively, consult provider listings from LGBT organizations you support, as they typically feature therapists who are both experienced and understanding of LGBT and same-sex partnership concerns.
- Open your eyes. Look at bulletin boards in stores and spaces that are LGBT-focused and -friendly. Coffee shops, adult shops, bookstores, and other social venues are opportunities to search for a therapist’s card or brochure. If a therapist took the time to put his or her information there, he or she might be a fit to address your needs.
For same-sex couples, the new law of the land opens up opportunities in terms of marriage counseling. It’s an exciting chance for such couples to feel validation and to work on their newly recognized unions with a professional. Doing a little homework about your counselor prior to setting up your first appointment will save you time, money, and emotional energy, and pave the pathway to greater counseling success.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.