Ways that Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy Can Help Gay and Lesbian Couples
by Ian Hammonds
When coming into therapy, many couples want to know how their couples therapy will be approached. Couples come into therapy for a variety of reasons. Hurt feelings, resentment, betrayal, and ambivalence. One of the approaches that I have found to be the most effective is Emotionally Focused Therapy. I have especially found it to be useful for gay and lesbian couples. In this post, I list why.
1. It provides a neutral, nonjudgmental space for you and your partner to address your attachment injuries. These injuries exist in every partnership, but they may be more rampant in a relationship if you identify as gay or lesbian due to various everyday problems we face as a community.
2. Couples, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, have an innate need for attachment and fear of abandonment. There have been studies showing that we are driven by companionship, and this theory holds that staying in a healthy relationship will improve your quality of life. This viewpoint is definitely needed if you are in a gay or lesbian relationship.
3. The therapist provides a validating and collaborative demeanor that enables you and your partner to process heteronormative stressors experienced by a gay or lesbian couple. This sort of validation is necessary in slowing down the unhealthy cyclical pattern that many gay and lesbian couples find themselves stuck in by the time they make the first call to a couples therapist.
4. It allows the couple to be guided in new ways to consolidate healthier relationship patterns. Healthy reconciliation is much needed in a relationship regardless of how long two partners have been together. Emotional unpacking and making sense of these emotions alone can be extremely therapeutic for a gay or lesbian couple who are in constant fear of losing each other.
5. It slows down the unhealthy cycle that the couple walks in with that is increasing the couple’s anxiety in their relationship. When you and your partner are in fear of losing one another, you both can display such patterns as pursuing too much or too little as well as withdrawing too much or too little. The therapist highlights your negative cycle in a warm and validating way while opening room for newer and healthier attachment bonds to improve your relationship in the long-term.