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Gay Affirmative Therapy Lit Review

Gay Affirmative Therapy Lit Review

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Published by Douglas Sadownick
Gay Affirmative Literature Review
Gay Affirmative Literature Review

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Published by: Douglas Sadownick on May 11, 2011
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08/20/2013

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BritishJournalofGuidance
&
Counselling,Vol.
28.
No.1,2000
Gayaffirmativetherapy:acriticalanalysisoftheliterature
NIGELHARRISON
SchoolofHealth,LiverpoolJohnMooresUniuersity,
79
TithebarnStreet,LiverpoolL2
2ER,UK
ABSTRACT
A.literaturereviewindicatedthattheconceptofgayaffirmatioetherapy
is
fragmentedandinneedoffurtherevaluation.Aresearchapproachwasadopted,basedonthenotionthatknowledgeissociallyconstructed.Aqualitativeapproachanddescriptive
study,
usinganon-tra-ditionalformat,wasused.Thisreportedeventsastheyoccurred,structuredbyafivestage'framezoorh+model.Theresearchsampleconsistedof
33
journalarticlesandsummariesofconferencepapers,daredbetween
1982
and
1995.
Fifteenthemeswereidentifiedasfeaturesofgayaffirmativetherapy.Theseweresynthesisedtotormanintegratedmodel.Evidenceofcounsellorsworkingatamicroandmacrolevelwithinthreeinterconnecteddomainsemerged.Agayaffirmativeapproachwasidentifiedinindividualcounsellors,urahinorganisations,andwithinasocialmovementorpro-fessionalgroup.
Thispaperoutlinesastudywhichfocusedonacriticalanalysisofliteratureongayaffirmativetherapy.Theterm'gayaffirmativetherapy'isadopted,sincemostofthe.literaturereviewedusedthiswording.Variationsexist,including'gayaffirmativepsychology'and'affirmativedynamicpsychotherapy'.Theterm'gay'willbeusedtodenotegay,lesbianandbisexualinanendeavourtowriteconcisely,whilerespectingthatthesesexualidentitiesdiffer.Thereportwillbewritteninthefirstperson.Webb(1992)statesthatthisisacceptableif'appropriatetothemodeofresearchreportedandwhereanauthorisgivingapersonaljudgmentarrivedatonthebasisofreasonableevidence'(p.747).Iamassertingmyrighttoclaimownershipofpersonalviewsexpressed,andknowledgegeneratedfromthestudyisviewedasmine,forwhichIamaccountable.Theresearchwillbepresentedsequentially,adoptingthechronologicalstructureinwhichtheresearchoccurred.Distinctsectionsonthemethodologyandresearchfindingsarenotincluded,butembeddedwithinthemethodofdataanalysisused.Thisisknownas'framework'(Ritchie
&
Spencer,1994).Introduction
Personalbackground
My
interestingayaffirmativetherapyemanatesfrommypersonalexperienceasagayman,havingaadoptedagaylifestyleinasocietywhichcontinuestooppose
ISSN0306-9885(print)ISSN1469-3534(online)
/00/Ol0037-17©
2000CareersResearchandAdvisoryCentre
 
38NigelHarrison
humandiversity.Icommencedcounsellingasaclient,when'comingout'.Althoughthiswasapositiveexperience,Ifeltthatthecounsellorcouldhavehadabetterunderstandingofgaylifestylesandfamiliaritywithgayresourcesandnetworks.Overthepast15yearsIhaveexperiencedverbalandphysicalabusewhichIbelievehasenabledmetounderstandtheneedsofgayclients(\1Vebb,1992).Iacknowledgethatsomeresearchersprefertokeepsilentabouttheirsexualidentityforfearofothersquestioningtheobjectivityoftheirwork.However,IprefertoactonCoyle's(1995)conjecturethat'academicworkonlesbianandgaysexualitiesisoftenundertakenbyacademicswhoarethemselveslesbianorgaywhowishtowrestcontrolofpsycho-logicaldiscourse...fromthosewhoprefertopromoteanegative,condemnatory,pathologicaldiscourse'
(p.
2).W'hileIwasemployedasacounsellorwithinaprimary-caresettinginManchester's'gayvillage'andattheManchesterLesbianandGayCentre(lVILGC),Ibecameawareofdifferences
in
theservicesprovidedbythetwoorganisationsanddifferencesbetweenthecounsellorsemployedintheseorganisations.However,Iwasunabletoidentifydifferencesinthefeaturesoftheservicesorinthecharacteristicsofthecounsellors.Myexperienceasagayman,nurse,lecturerandcounsellorprovidedmewithavaguenotionofamodelofcounsellingappropriatetoworkingwithgayclients.Thisrequiredfurtherexplorationforintegrationofthesenebulousideasandstrands.
In
particular,Iwasmotivatedtoclarifyaspectsofgoodpractice.Cooper(1989)statedthat'reviewscanattempttointegratewhatothershavedoneandsaid,tocriticisescholarlyworks,tobuildbridgesbetweenrelatedtopicareasand/oridentifythecentralissuesinafield'
(p.
13).Inconductingthereview,however,Iacknowledgethatithasbeeninfluencedbymypersonalandprofessionalexperience.Thishasshapedmyperspectiveonlifeandmyvaluesandbeliefsjincludingmyattitudetowardscounsellinggayclients.Webb(1992)suggeststhatwithinterpretiveapproaches,researcherswillinevitablyinvestanddivulgemuchofthemselvesintheirresearch.Thisresearchisthereforepartlyautobiographical.Itisadescriptivestudy,whichaimedtoexploreandclarifyexistingknowledgeandtodevelopnewthemes.
Literaturereview
Historically,Weeks(1985)attributestheinfluencesonsexualityoverthelastthreecenturiestoreligion,medicine,lawandpolitics.Theseinstitutionshaveviewedhomosexualityinthepastassinful,sickandillegal.Duringthe20thcentury,thenotionofsininecclesiasticallawwasgraduallychangedtoascientificdebate,inwhichhomosexualitywasseenassickratherthanbad.Thispromptedasearchforabiologicalcause(Ruse,1988)andphysiologicaltreatments(Marshall,1987).Eveninthelasttwodecades,'cures'haveincludedaversiontherapyandpsychoanalysis(Davies
&
Neal,1996).Marmor(1965)admitsthat'therapeuticpracticesoftenseemedlessdesignedtohelpthepatientthantoenforcethevaluesofthetherapistonthepatient'
(p.
41)...~Lobbyingbygayactivistsinfluencedtheremovalofhomosexualityasadiagnos-ablementaldisorderbytheAmericanPsychiatricAssociationin1973(Dawson,
 
Gayaffirmativetherapy39
1994).Themedicalprofessionhadconstructedandthendeconstructedhomosexu-alityasanillness.Todaygayrelationshipsremaincontroversialinpoliticaldebates.InrecentyearsanumberofgayMPshavebeen'outed'bygaypoliticalgroups,andtheloweringoftheageofconsentforgaymento16hasbeenacontentioushumanrightsissuewhichhasbeenthefocusofpoliticaldebate.Weeks(1985)suggeststhatsexologistscreatedthehomosexualthroughcate-gorisingsexuality.Previously,gaypeopleexpressedtheirsexualityandformedgayrelationshipsbutdidnotnecessarilyconstructtheirwholelifearoundtheirsexualorientation.DeCecco
&
Elia(1993)assertthat,morerecently,agayidentityandsub-culturehasemergedduetoapredominantliberalideologyandsocialconstructionistparadigm.Gaycommunitieshavedevelopedconsistingofpubs,clubs,restaurants,clothesshops,hairdressers,taxiservicesandnewspapers.Thisinfrastructureprovidesasenseofbelongingandsecurityandencouragesagaylifestyle.In.thelastthreedecades,gaycommunitieshaveassembledgaypeoplewhohavecollectivelyopposedoppression.Messenger(1992)definesoppressionasthe'sys-tematicandinstitutionalisedmistreatmentofmembersofagroup,eitherbyanothergrouporbysocietyasawhole'
(p.
26).TheGreaterLondonCouncil(1985)providedoneofthefirstdefinitionsofheterosexism,assertingthatitwasanewtermcoined(likeracism)todescribeanattitudeofmindthatcategorisesandthenunjustlydismissesasinferiorawholegroupofpeople;itassumesthatno-onecanbenaturallyhomosexual,sothatahomosexualmustbeafailedheterosexual.Althoughprovisionsforequalopportunitiesexist,theydonotalwaysincludesexualorientation,anareawhichisnotprotectedbylegislation.Anti-oppressivepracticewithgayclientsthereforerelieson'goodpractice',butissubjecttovarying.standards.TheBritishAssociationforCounselling(1993)statesthatcounsellorsshouldtakeallreasonablestepstotakeaccountoftheclient'ssocialcontextandthatcounsellorsareresponsibleforworkinginwayswhichpromotecontrolovertheirownbeliefsandvalues.However,theCommitteeonLesbianandGayConcerns(1990)discoveredevidenceofbiasedpractice,leadingtoinappropriatecare,andmanypsychoanalystscontinuetoviewgayclientsaspathological(Leitman,1995).Moon(1994)statesthat'ascounsellorswearepartofaculturethatpermitsstigmatisationandprejudicetowardsgaypeople'
(p.
277).Counsellorsmayalsobecaughtupinthesamenormativevaluesaslaypeoplewhoareheterosexist(Gurney,1996).Gayclientsmaybenefitfromhavinggaycounsellorswhoself-disclosetheirsexualidentityandactaspositiverolemodels.However,heterosexualcounsellorscanbeobjectiveanddeveloptheirknowledgeaboutgaylifestylesandresources(Moon,1994).Gurney(1996)remindscounsellorsthatthereareasmanydiffer-encesassimilaritiesbetweentheexperiencesofgaymenandlesbians,andthatthereis}!dangerofacounsellorattributingallofadient'sproblemstotheirsexualityratherthantootherorigins.Nevertheless,gaycIienrsdohaveuniqueissuesrelated
to
theirsexualorientationandlifestyle.Ifresponsesfromothersareaffirming,individualsmaybemorelikelytoseethemselvesashavingpositiveseIfworth.

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