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What is LGBTQ+ Couples Therapy?
LGBTQ+ couples therapy is a form of therapy specifically tailored to the needs of couples in the LGBTQ+ community. The LGBTQ+ community includes diverse people identifying as lesbian couples, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, and others who don’t conform to traditional gender or sexual norms. In addition, the community includes people of all ages, races, ethnicities, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
LGBTQ+ couples counseling is a process that involves working with a therapist trained and experienced in working with couples, married or not, who are navigating issues related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and other aspects of the LGBTQ+ experience.
One of the unique aspects of LGBTQ+ couples counseling is its focus on validating and supporting the experiences and identities of each partner. This can be particularly important in a society that may not always accept LGBTQ+ individuals and relationships. Experienced therapists may also work to help couples develop strategies for coping with external stressors and building resilience in the face of adversity.
Overall, LGBTQ+ couples therapy can be an essential resource for couples seeking to strengthen their relationship and navigate the unique challenges that can arise due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
A relationship is not necessarily over if you have to go to therapy for it. Seeking treatment for your relationship can be a positive step towards improving your communication, resolving conflicts, and strengthening your connection with your partner.
Many couples seek therapy to address issues such as communication, intimacy, infidelity, or conflicts related to life transitions such as moving, having children, or career changes. In addition, seeking therapy can help couples gain insights into their relationship patterns and develop new skills to overcome challenges.
Therapy can also help couples identify underlying issues and work through them in a safe and supportive environment. Sometimes, couples may find that therapy helps them grow individually and as a couple. As a result, they may be able to build a stronger and healthier relationship.
While therapy does not guarantee that a relationship will survive, it can provide a path for couples to explore feelings, develop new perspectives, and make positive changes. Ultimately, whether a relationship is over depends on each couple’s unique circumstances and willingness to work together to overcome challenges.
Insurance may be able to help cover the cost of therapy. Find out if your insurance provider can help with the costs by filling in our confidential insurance verification form below.
Statistics on LGBTQ+ Couples and Therapy
- According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to experience mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety than their heterosexual counterparts. This can lead to a greater need for therapy services for the LGBTQ+ community.1
- The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) notes that LGBTQ+ individuals often face unique relationship challenges, such as discrimination and social stigma. This can make LGBTQ+ marriage counseling or gay couples counseling a beneficial resource.2
- The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law found that same-sex couples are more likely to seek couples therapy than different-sex couples. In a study of over 1,000 couples, 20% of same-sex couples reported receiving gay couples counseling in the past year, compared to 14% of different-sex couples.3
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to experience social isolation and rejection from family members. This can adversely affect their mental health. Therapy can help individuals and couples navigate these challenges and develop healthy coping strategies.4
- The National LGBT Health Education Center reports that LGBTQ+ couples are more likely to experience relationship violence than their heterosexual counterparts. This can be due to several factors, including social stigma and discrimination.5
- The American Psychological Association (APA) notes that LGBTQ+ individuals often experience unique stressors related to their sexual orientation or gender identity, such as fear of discrimination or rejection. This can lead to higher rates of mental health conditions and a greater need for therapy services.6
Signs It May Be Time for LGBTQ+ Couples Therapy
Several signs may indicate it’s time for LGBTQ+ relationship counseling. Here are a few examples:
- Communication problems: You and your partner have difficulty communicating effectively. This may include frequent arguments or a sense that you’re not being heard or understood by your partner.
- Conflict over LGBTQ+ issues: You and your partner are experiencing conflict related to your sexual orientation or gender identity. This may include disagreements over coming out, navigating family relationships, or addressing discrimination.
- Intimacy issues: You and your partner are experiencing difficulties with intimacy or sex. This may include a lack of physical or emotional connection, difficulty expressing your needs and desires, or concerns about sexual health.
- Life transitions: You and your partner are experiencing a significant life transition, such as moving, having children, or career changes. These transitions can be stressful and can put a strain on your relationship.
- Feeling stuck or disconnected: You and your partner feel stuck in your relationship or disconnected. Gay couples counseling can offer a secure and encouraging setting to explore your and your partner’s feelings and work through problems.
These are just a few examples of the signs that may indicate it’s time for LGBTQ+ couples therapy. If you’re experiencing any of these issues or other challenges in your relationship, seeking treatment can be an important step towards improving your communication, resolving conflicts, and strengthening your connection with your partner.
What to Expect in LGBTQ+ Couples Therapy
The process for LGBTQ+ couples therapy can vary depending on the therapist and the couple’s needs. It can be similar to other types of couples therapy. Still, there are some unique considerations that may be taken into account.
The Gottman Method is an evidence-based approach to couples therapy frequently used when treating same-sex relationships. The Gottman Method is based on research identifying specific behaviors and attitudes associated with successful, long-lasting relationships. The therapist works with you and your partner to identify strengths and areas for improvement and develop specific therapy goals, implementing various techniques and exercises.
Here is a general overview of the process for LGBTQ+ couples therapy:
- Initial consultation: The first step in the process is typically a consultation, where you and your partner will meet with the therapist to discuss your concerns and goals for therapy. This is an opportunity to see if you and the therapist are a good fit and to ask questions.
- Assessment: Once you and the therapist have decided to work together, they will typically conduct an assessment to gain a deeper understanding of your relationship, including your strengths, challenges, and areas for growth. This may involve questionnaires, interviews, or other tests.
- Treatment planning: The therapist will collaborate with you and your partner to create a treatment plan based on the evaluation that details your therapy objectives and the methods you’ll use to reach them. This plan will be tailored to your unique needs and concerns as an LGBTQ+ couple.
- Therapy sessions: Therapy sessions typically last 60-90 minutes and occur regularly, usually once a week. During sessions, you and your partner will work with the therapist to explore your relationship dynamics, develop new skills and strategies, and address any challenges.
- Homework: You may be asked to complete homework between therapy sessions, such as practicing communication skills or reflecting on your relationship patterns. These assignments are designed to help you apply what you learn in therapy to your day-to-day life.
- Ongoing assessment and adjustment: Throughout the therapy process, your therapist will continue to assess your progress and adjust your treatment plan as needed. They may also provide referrals to other professionals if you or your partner would benefit from additional support.
- Termination: As you and your partner make progress toward your therapy goals, you may decide to end therapy. This can be a collaborative decision made with your therapist. Some therapists may also provide follow-up sessions to help ensure that you and your partner continue to maintain the progress you made in therapy.
Here’s what you can expect in LGBTQ+ relationship counseling:
- An affirming environment: A skilled LGBTQ+ therapist will provide an environment that affirms and accepts your sexual orientation or gender identity, helping you and your partner feel comfortable discussing topics related to your identity.
- An exploration of identity: Your therapist may help you and your partner explore your identities and how they interact with your relationship. This may include discussions about coming out, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other aspects of your LGBTQ+ identity.
- Focus on unique challenges: Your therapist may help you and your partner navigate unique challenges that LGBTQ+ couples may face, such as discrimination, prejudice, and social stigma. You may also explore how these challenges affect your relationship and how to cope.
- Communication skills: Your therapist may work with you and your partner to improve your communication skills. This can include learning how to express your needs and desires, listening actively to your partner, and developing strategies for conflict resolution.
- Support for mental health: Your therapist can support any mental health issues you or your partner may be experiencing, such as anxiety or depression. They may also provide referrals to LGBTQ+-friendly mental health providers if needed.
- Relationship skills: Your therapist may work with you and your partner to improve your relationship skills, such as developing empathy, building trust, and increasing intimacy.
Overall, LGBTQ+ couples therapy provides a safe and supportive environment where you and your partner can work through challenges, strengthen your connection, and build a more fulfilling, healthy relationship.
Goals & Success Rates for LGBTQ+ Couples Therapy
The goals of LGBTQ+ couples counseling are similar to those of couples therapy for heterosexual couples, with an added focus on the unique challenges that LGBTQ+ couples face. Some specific issues addressed in LGBTQ+ counseling include coming out, navigating family and social relationships, dealing with discrimination, addressing intimacy and sexual problems, and exploring issues related to gender identity.
Here are some examples of the goals you may work towards in LGBTQ+ couples therapy:
- Improved communication: One of the primary goals of couples therapy is to improve communication between partners. This may include developing better listening skills, expressing emotions more effectively, and resolving conflicts healthily.
- Strengthened relationship: Couples therapy can help partners deepen their emotional connection, build trust, and improve intimacy. This may involve exploring each partner’s needs and desires, improving emotional and physical intimacy, and developing shared interests.
- Conflict resolution: Every couple experiences conflict, but couples therapy can provide tools and strategies for resolving conflicts in a healthy way. This may involve learning how to manage disagreements, negotiate solutions, and find common ground.
- Coping with stressors: An LGBTQ relationship may face unique stressors related to sexual orientation or gender identities, such as discrimination, social stigma, and family rejection. LGBTQ+ couples counseling can help partners develop coping skills to manage these stressors and strengthen their relationship in the face of adversity.
- Improved mental health: Couples therapy can support mental health issues one or both partners may be experiencing. This may include anxiety, depression, trauma, or other relationship issues.
- Individual growth: Couples therapy can also provide an opportunity for each partner to grow individually and in the relationship. This may involve exploring personal goals, values, and beliefs and learning to support each other’s growth.
There is limited research on the success rates of LGBTQ couples counseling, as success can be defined and measured in different ways. In addition, therapy outcomes can depend on various factors, such as the specific issues being addressed, the therapist’s approach, and the level of commitment from the partners.
However, some studies have suggested that couples therapy can be effective for LGBTQ+ couples. For example, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy found that couples therapy was associated with significant improvements in relationship satisfaction and communication for same-sex couples.7 Another study found that LGBTQ+ couples who received therapy reported significant improvements in emotional intimacy and reduced depressive symptoms.8
While there is limited research on the success rates of LGBTQ+ couples therapy, evidence suggests that it can be an effective tool for improving relationship satisfaction and addressing a range of challenges faced by LGBTQ+ couples. Although it is important to note that therapy is a collaborative process, and success depends on the willingness of both partners to actively participate in the therapy process and work towards their goals.
Cost of LGBTQ+ Couples Counseling
The cost of LGBTQ+ couples counseling can vary widely depending on many factors, such as the therapist’s location, level of experience, and the frequency and duration of therapy sessions.
According to a 2019 analysis, the average cost of psychotherapy in the United States ranges from $100 to $200 per session (depending on the state).9 Some therapists charge more or less than this range. As a result, the above might not accurately depict what you’ll pay for gay couples counseling in Tennessee.
In addition, many therapists offer sliding scale fees based on income, making therapy more affordable for those with lower incomes. Some insurance plans may cover the cost of couples therapy. Still, it can vary widely depending on several factors, including the specific plan and the therapist’s credentials.
There are also online therapy platforms that offer LGBTQ+ couples therapy at a lower cost than traditional in-person therapy. These platforms may offer subscription plans or pay-per-session options that can be more affordable for some couples.
In conclusion, the cost of LGBTQ+ couples counseling can vary greatly. Still, options are available for couples seeking therapy with financial concerns. It is important to research and compare the various options and consider factors such as affordability, therapist experience, and insurance coverage before choosing a therapist.
Athena Care is in-network with most major insurance plans with multiple therapy clinics throughout Tennessee. Therefore, filling out our free, no-obligation online insurance verification form is the most efficient method for finding out more about your insurance coverage benefits. After completing the form, one of our expert care coordinators will review your policy and thoroughly explain your options for LGBTQ+ couples therapy. Rest assured, all submitted or discussed information is confidential.
- Medley, Grace, et al. “Sexual Orientation and Estimates of Adult Substance Use and Mental Health: Results From the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 2015, www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-SexualOrientation-2015/NSDUH-SexualOrientation-2015/NSDUH-SexualOrientation-2015.htm.
- Advanced Solutions International, Inc. “Clinical Guidelines for LGBTQIA-Affirming Marriage and Family Therapy.” American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, 2019, www.aamft.org/lgbtqiaguidelines.
- The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. “Same-Sex Couples Archives.” Williams Institute, 2014, williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/subpopulations/same-sex-couples.
- Coffey, Danissa. “Bettering Mental Health Outcomes for LGBTQ+ Youth.” NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, 30 June 2021, nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/June-2021/Bettering-Mental-Health-Outcomes-for-LGBTQ-Youth.
- Ard, Kevin, MD, MP. “Understanding the Health Needs of LGBT People.” National LGBT Health Education Center, Mar. 2016, lgbtqiahealtheducation.org/wp-content/uploads/LGBTHealthDisparitiesMar2016.pdf.
- APA COUNCIL OF REPRESENTATIVES. “APA GUIDELINES for Psychological Practice With Sexual Minority Persons.” American Psychological Association, Feb. 2021, www.apa.org/about/policy/psychological-sexual-minority-persons.pdf.
- Lebow, Jay, and Douglas K. Snyder. “Couple Therapy in the 2020s: Current Status and Emerging Developments.” Family Process, vol. 61, no. 4, Wiley-Blackwell, Sept. 2022, pp. 1359–85. https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12824.
- Guschlbauer, Andrea, et al. “Minority Stress and Emotional Intimacy Among Individuals in Lesbian and Gay Couples: Implications for Relationship Satisfaction and Health.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, vol. 36, no. 3, SAGE Publishing, Mar. 2019, pp. 855–78. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407517746787.
- Baron, Jess. “Top 10 Mental Health CPT Codes 2022.” Simple Practice, 22 Jan. 2023, www.simplepractice.com/blog/top-billed-cpt-codes.
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