Same-Sex Therapy – Same Same But Different

What the best approach is for same-sex couples’ therapy.

Therapy 09th Aug, 2021

Choosing which theory to use when working with couples should reflect the personality and abilities of the therapist. It should also be valuable and respectful of the needs of the client. The most famous couples’ therapy theory was developed for heterosexual couples who wanted to avoid divorce. Since then, many more theories have been developed, therefore, therapists working with gays and lesbians must ensure that the approaches they incorporate into their relationships are appropriate to the goals set by the partners. 

Differences In Treatment For Same-Sex Couples: 

When searching for a therapy to help your same-sex relationship, make sure to do some research to pick the correct theory. In doing this, the first objective should be to consider whether the factors of the couple’s problems would be the same for a heterosexual couple. Most times, same-sex couples and heterosexual couples share a common goal: the desire for better communication, shared values, the need to deal with personal differences to complement each other, and the desire to feel committed to their partner. 

Couples’ therapists, however, must be aware of expected differences in same-sex relationship experiences due to their gender identity. The way society has historically treated homosexuals, same-sex couples may be more vulnerable to relationship distress. They face the challenge of dealing with the development of their gender identity, social discrimination, and the concealment of their sexuality from friends and family. Additionally, common problems in lesbian and gay relationships revolve around the commitment phase, monogamy norms, and varying degrees of HIV risk that are not typically present in heterosexual couples. 

The Gottman Method Can Be Ideal For Same-Sex Couples: 

The Gottman method is a multidimensional treatment method that helps partners in the conflict stage. It is efficient in assisting couples to stop their arguments and create more comfortable communication, by improving basic social skills. The method also aims to develop an awareness of interpersonal conflicts associated with relational behaviours such as criticism, contempt, distancing, and obstruction. The end goal of the Gottman Method is to express dissatisfaction in a more civilised way, and to create a culture of appreciation, acceptance, and mutual responsibility for problems. 

A study published by the Gottman Institute in 2017 used Gottman’s method to collect and measure gay couples’ relationship satisfaction at five different times. The data showed that both gay and lesbian couples improved significantly after 10 treatment sessions. This study showed that the Gottman method is very effective for same-sex couples. In almost half of the sessions of a typical heterosexual couple using the Gottman Method, the improvement for homosexual couples was more than double that of most heterosexual couples. 

This is generally due to the belief that because of lower gender roles and inequality, same-sex couples perform typically better than opposite-sex couples. For same-sex couples, the degree of socialisation is usually similar. They may have similar communication styles to heterosexual couples. 

The study also shows that although problems with same-sex couples are not necessarily easier to deal with than opposing partners, the Gottman method creates a way for couples to discuss their unique preferences in a more civilised manner. The use of Gottman’s method intervention provides same-sex couples with ways to improve relationships. These methods of communicating criticism and defensive antidotes can be applied to your unique challenges. Same-sex couples also reported that, thanks to the new communication skills taught in the Gottman method, they received support in establishing friendships and rekindle the sexual spark in their relationship.

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