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ini berfokus kepada hubungan homoseksual di kalangan wanita, iaitu lesbianisme. Masalah golongan minoriti lesbian memang sukar difahami kerana lesbian merupakan 'golongan yang tidak diiktiraf' di negara kita. Namun, untuk menjadi seorang kaunselor yang berkesan, perlu ada persediaan diri dan kelayakan profesional yang mencukupi untuk memberi khidmat kaunseling kepada mereka yang memerlukan. Masalahnya tidak ramai yang tahu latar belakang kehidupan lesbian dan bentuk permasalahan yang dihadapi oleh golongan ini. Kertas ini cuba memberi pendedahan tentang kehidupan dan latar belakang lesbian di dalam masyarakat kita. Tumpuan utama akan diberikan kepada pendekatan yang boleh digunapakai untuk memberikan khidmat kaunseling kepada golongan lesbian. Isu yang berkaitan dengan etika dan nilai masyarakat dalam membantu klien lesbian turut dibincangkan. Introduction In the Malaysian context, it is generally unknown how much people know about lesbianism and to what extent they would accept the lesbians' existence and their unique lifestyle. It is undeniable that an abundance of information about lesbianism exists on the internet, in newspapers, magazines, films, novels, books, and other sources. However, we do not know whether this information is meaningful to Malaysian people. Being in a Muslim majority country with strong traditional values, most Malaysians tend to view lesbianism as a disgraceful and shameful act. Malaysian society in general also rejects homosexuality. The phenomenon of lesbianism can be detected if one truly pays attention to the "hidden" issues normally discussed in newspapers or magazines. The most frequently sought-after columns that lesbians use as a medium of expression are "Bisikan Rasa", "Nostalgia", "Nukilan Rasa" and the like. Lesbianism has been known and practised secretly among a minority of female students at boarding schools (especially at segregated schools), and among artists, police and army officers, and even among professionals and intellectuals. How to understand lesbianism in the Malaysian context and how to deal with the lesbian community are the major concerns of people in the helping profession. It is also the focus of this paper. This paper is aimed at describing lesbianism with special focus on the various approaches for counseling lesbian clients. Some ethical and value issues in counseling lesbian clients are also discussed to help counselors and counselor trainees to be aware of, and predict, the potential problems.
Masalah Pendidikan Jilid 26 Hakcipta@2003 Fakulti Pendidikan Universiti Malaya
Obvious lesbianism .Definition and Female Sexual Identity Problems The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) classifies lesbians and gays in Group A referring to sexual disorders due to sexual identity problems. Transverse-style refers to women who like to dress and act like men but have no intention of changing their sexual organs. According to Dr. Transsexual. Sometimes. An interview with a registered counselor (Hushim Salleh. Types of Female Homosexual In Malaysia. married lesbian women carry out lesbian activities without their husbands' knowledge. 2002) in Malaysia was conducted and it was hypothesized that the roots of lesbianism are two-fold: (1) these women have gender identity crisis and seem to not know themselves completely. 116 Masalah Pendidikan Jilid 26 Hakcipta@2003 Fakulti Pendidikan Universiti Malaya . and in expressing their feelings. 1988). worry. or fear. mak nyah or pondan (Mohd Tajudin & Mohamed Mansor Abdullah.refers to women who are in great need of finding another woman to sleep with. They may act like ordinary women but their object of desire is another woman.refers to women who secretly practise lesbian actrvitres. Transsexuals. 3. Lesbians fall under this category of gender identity disorder. This group of women is also sexually interested in men. 1999). 1988). are women who feel like men and want to change their sexual organs in order to feel complete (Meriam Omar Din. They are also known as heterosexuals or bisexuals or locally known as bapok. and Homosexual. Mat Saat Bald (in Rozienah Husain. 2001). sexual identity disorders can be classified into three different types: Transverse-Style. they may also be women who are very proud of acting and feeling like men without a need to change their sexual organs (Rozienah Husain. They differ from the first two categories because they are only interested in women (physically and sexually).refers to women who portray themselves as lesbians without shame. they are proud of their lesbian lifestyle. However.refers to women who accept themselves as lesbians and live like lesbians and who can easily adjust themselves to their environment. 2. The homosexual type refers to women who have sexual relationships with other women. on the other hand. Secretive lesbianism . 1988). sexual satisfaction. They may know they are females but they do not understand their sexual desires. Addicted lesbianism . there are six types of female homosexual behavior that counselors or counselor trainees should be aware of (Rozienah Husain. Adaptive lesbianism . 4. They accept themselves as women and do not want to be associated as men (King & Bartlett. and (2) they have gender disorder because they are attracted to females only in terms of obtaining love. 2001). in fact. Only those very close to the women know about their hidden agenda. These are: 1.
Or if the first was with a man and it was a bad experience. Lesbians in the relationship have their own social roles. is perceived as best friends. 1988).refers to women who seek female partners while at college or when there are no men around. there are five factors that contribute to lesbianism. One will take the "masculine" role and the other will take the "feminine" role. for example cross-dressing. but they behave like normal women outside. Sex roles are played accordingly and interchangeably.refers to women who have sex with other women as a means of getting money. the lesbian lifestyle is very difficult to detect compared to gays' because lesbians are perceived as normal women living together as housemates and their relationship. Sometimes this applies to the woman's first sexual experience. Contributing Factors in Lesbianism According to Mat Saat Baki (Rozienah Husain. 1999). In Malaysia. If the first was with a female partner. 6.5. the woman might tum to another woman for sex. Noriah Ishak. On the other hand. If the woman found her female partner more sexually satisfying. the ego-dystonic lesbian is sexually attracted to another woman but at the same time feels guilty about it. This is the type of lesbian that can be bought when needed. Prostitute lesbianism . even though sexual in nature. 1988) and other experts in the area (Meriam Omar Din. Masalah Pendidikan Jilid 26 Hakcipta@2003 Fakulti Pendidikan Universiti Malaya 117 . 2001. she may no longer want to have sex with a man. First is the woman's childhood experience. she views herself as abnormal and is always in a state of fear. Most lesbian clients in Malaysia have the egodystonic stance. and this relationship will determine the child's identity and social interaction in later years. the child might use this experience to guide her future actions. Those women who have had experience of sex with both male and female can develop a personal preference for the better partner. If parents encourage the child (intentionally or unintentionally) to behave inconsistently with her gender. Seasonal lesbianism . Second is the woman's sexual experience (Diamant. Lesbians' lives are established by their stance and this can be classified into two types: egosyntonic or ego-dystonic lesbianism. she does not worry about being lesbian and happily accepts herself and enjoys her life as a lesbian. About 10% of them will remain as lesbians after school or college life. and about 90% will behave like ordinary women and have relationships with men. Lesbian Lifestyle Lesbian couples behave like spouses in a house. 2001). She feels forced to act and behave like a lesbian because of her sexual instinct. The ego-syntonic lesbian feels comfortable with her life as a lesbian. Due to this guilt. then there is a possibility that it will continue. A child's first contact and interaction is with parents. Their sexual relationship does not involve usage of artificial penis or other sexual gadgets because most lesbians confess that orgasm with female partners is much more satisfying than with male partners (Rozienah Husain.
according to Hushim Salleh (2002). Four approaches are relevant to the topic of interest: the traditional approach. Axis III (general medical conditions). Axis IV (psychosocial and environmental problems).Third is the woman's hormonal regulation. Other contributory factors. it means that she has an inclination towards lesbianism. Some women have less female hormones (e. 1988). 2001). The Traditional Approach Psychiatrists normally use this approach because it is heavily based on the medical model where symptoms are the main indicators of the client's problem. object-relation therapy. The following section shall discuss the gist of these approaches. and influence of parenting style (e. for example. she might continue doing it.g. The main reference in counseling a lesbian client is the DSM-IV because this manual classifies all the symptoms a client may portray into five axes: Axis I (clinical disorders or other conditions that may be a focus of clinical attention). Fourth is the experimental experience of the woman. Lesbians and gays fall under the category of gender identity disorder. the non-traditional approach. she may generalize her hatred and hate not only them but the rest of the male population. Counseling Lesbian Clients from Several Approaches In the Malaysian Counseling Association (PERKAMA) 10th Convention held on 12-13 May 2001 at the Academy of Islamic Studies. and the Islamic approach. The convention theme was "Managing Gender Identity Problems: Collective Responsibility". If a woman was raped by her father. and she liked it a lot. Each axis explains the type of disorder or mental illness experienced by patients or clients in the hospital or counseling setting (Mohd Tajudin & Mohamed Mansor. Counselors or other professionals should be cautioned that if a woman experiences any of the abovementioned factors. she cannot be labeled as a lesbian until the woman admitted it herself (Mat Saat Baki in Rozienah Husain. Axis II (personality disorders or mental retardation). are early exposure to socialization (coming from a female dominated family or attending girls' boarding schools). if a woman experimented having same-sex sexual experience. 118 Masalah Pendidikan Jilid 26 Hakcipta@2003 Fakulti Pendidikan Universiti Malaya . and Axis V (global assessment of functioning). estrogen) but more male hormones (testosterone) and this causes the female to act like a man. The last factor is the woman's traumatic experience during childhood or adolescence. University of Malaya.g. having autocratic parents who restrict their daughters' socialization with male friends). However. brother or other male family member. Malaysian counselors and psychiatrists presented several approaches in counseling clients with sexual identity problems such as lesbians.
This is different from the traditional approach used by most psychiatrists because the non-traditional approach does not totally rely on the manual to identify the client's problem. founded by Rogers. (2) building the clients' trust. If the problems are based on the client's sexual orientation. This approach has five requirements: (1) accepting and being accepted. cross-cultural approach. b. 2001). both counselor and client would discuss the pros and cons of each alternative so that the client can take appropriate action. they can encourage and help the lesbian clients to make bigger changes in their lives. If counselors are aware of these small changes. However. Thus. and e. Counselors can thus prevent clients from committing further self-destructive behaviors that invite permanent consequences. where. The changes are observed in terms of their coping mechanism. Masalah Pendidikan Jilid 26 Hakcipta@2003 Fakulti Pendidikan Universiti Malaya 119 . how and why they were involved in lesbianism. 2002). Hushim Salleh (2002) reported that lesbian clients he helped had problems with their sexual orientation. beliefs. trauma analysis Mohd Tajudin and Mohamed Mansor (2001) suggested that all these factors can give holistic information on the nature of the client's problem. c. The non-traditional approach discusses the client's case based on the following five factors: a. then the best theory to use is Rational Emotive Theory (Hushim Salleh. (4) detecting clients' awareness in terms of the changes that happened to them. gender role analysis. They use the manual as reference in addition to the humanistic approach in their counseling process (Mohd Tajudin & Mohamed Mansor. (3) encouraging clients to share their subjective experience.The Non-traditional Approach Counselors and psychologists who use the DSM-IV manual as reference normally use this approach. and communication skills. Then comes the problem identification stage. the counseling process will start with rapport in order to establish truce before focusing on the exploration stage. thoughts. physical appearance. This exploration stage is crucial because the clients will disclose their history: when. Meriam Omar Din (2001) suggested a typical Person-Centered Counseling (PCC). followed by generation of alternatives. locus of evaluation. In the next stage. d. The final stage would be (5) helping clients to tackle "here-and-now" problems in a continuous manner so that they understand the actual problem. ecological analysis. life stage developmental approach.
11). middle and final therapy.?). Sometimes. an object-relation therapist must focus on the theme of the story presented by clients in the counseling session because this theme has its own unique meaning from the clients' perspective. 2001. It takes into account the self. working models (referring to an individual's cognitive schema). this approach may be of help because the goal of the client and the counseling process would coincide. The therapy also assumes that the individual's meaning of life indicates the individual herself. Thus. 2001. 2001. this approach is used to explore the clients' internal psychological process that refers to their life meanings. (10) help the client to gain insight into her problem. and how these two interact. (9) encourage the client to act and bertawakkal (have absolute trust in Allah). The therapy uses specific concepts such as the third reality (referring to the client-counselor relationship).IOl). i. challenge. and then reconstruct and change old meanings about oneself to others. The Islamic Perspective Islam does not allow lesbianism in Muslim society because "Allah the Almighty condemns those men who appear like women and those women who appear like men" (Asmungi Sidek. The counseling process has three stages: initial. understand. and plan strategy. the significant others. counseling a lesbian client using the Islamic perspective may cause some difficulties because of the conflict between Islamic teachings and lesbianism. This interaction influences and shapes her external and internal life. while remembering the old self' (Noriah Ishak.e. Thus. p. the counselor may say "it is okay to be the new you. The initial therapy focuses on creating a conducive environment. (8) help the client to set goals. and holding environment (referring to the way the counselor should treat the client. Specifically. (4) assist the client in exploring herself. (3) establish therapeutic counseling relationship with client. (2) say prayers to Allah. p. This interaction brings a unique meaning to the person experiencing it and can only be explained by the person. 120 Masalah Pendidikan Jilid 26 Hakcipta@2003 Fakulti Pendidikan Universiti Malaya . The final therapy is where the counselor encourages the client to understand the new internal working model and to use the model as a guide to change. (5) express understanding and empathy. building trust. (6) guide the client's exploration and help her to understand. (7) identify the client's needs. p. tolerate. Norazman Amat (2001) presented 11 steps of the Islamic counseling process as guidelines for Muslim counselors: (1) set proper goal.Object-Relation Therapy Object-relation therapy differs from other therapies in terms of understanding the clients' issues and problems. explore alternatives. The middle therapy is about helping the client gradually see. However. The therapy assumes that each meaning assigned to life episodes is due to the individual's interaction with others. understanding. and oneself to herself. and (11) end the counseling process once the client is ready to act and change. and learning about the client. if the lesbian client would like to change her sexual orientation because of guilt feelings. "seperti menatang minyak yang penuh" (Noriah Ishak. attachment (referring to early childhood attachment and adult attachment).
spouse. 1999). and stereotypes regarding sexual orientation" (p. A client's religious values can be a source of conflict to a person who is struggling with sexual identity issues.is unethical and unacceptable (Corey et al. (1998) commented. Lesbians are known for their desire for a long-term relationship and sometimes this ends up in anguish over the dissolution of a relationship. Counselors who have negative reactions to homosexuals have to be careful not to impose their own values on their clients because they are bound by ethical and moral obligations. prejudice. Counseling lesbian clients may become more challenging when it involves value conflict between religion and homosexuality issues.. The first involves the decision to "come out". the problems of loneliness and grief are common among lesbians. Thirdly. In most cases. and also the fear of infection. Secondly. facing discrimination. Weinstein and Rosen (1988) identified four special situations in counseling lesbians. 2000). Weinstein and Rosen (1988) contended that when a person comes in for counseling and states that she is a "homosexual". and oppression in a society. or sexual orientation . myths. employer or anyone. In addition. children. friends. At the same time. 1998). lesbians often bring to counseling the struggle between concealing their identity and "coming out" (Taylor. it is important to explore and understand what is meant by that declaration. fears. With the reality of these diseases. These problems are not unique to homosexuals. the American Psychological Association (APA). Corey et al. but they are exacerbated by the lack of societal support. Counselors should not take such labels at face value and at the same time should not negate their possible validity. the lack of support for grieving. (1998) cautioned all counselors to be aware of the conflict between religion and homosexuality because it may pose problems for both clients and counselors.Ethical and Value Issues in Counseling Lesbian Clients Lesbians are a minority group and working with them is challenging especially to those with restrictive attitudes and values towards homosexuals (Peterson. value issues also arise in counseling lesbians. Coming out refers to sharing one's identity with others such as parents.be it race. lesbians often face the loss of friends or partners. the religious and Masalah Pendidikan Jilid 26 Hakcipta@2003 Fakulti Pendidikan Universiti Malaya 121 .lOO). they may project their misconceptions and their fears onto their clients. Lastly. gender. for example. lesbians may have problems with sex-related diseases such as AIDS and genital human papillomavirus infection in women who have sex with women (Marrazzo. workforce or relationship. Therapists must confront their personal prejudices. 1988). ethnicity. the confidentiality in dealing explicitly with the clients may cause some problems because laws in the various states differ with respect to the confidentiality of professional records. The ethical codes of the American Counseling Association (ACA). and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) clearly state that discrimination on the basis of minority status . A number of special situations are likely to produce "a crisis" or need for counseling (Weinstein & Rosen. Besides ethical issues. Corey et al. "Unless counselors become conscious of their own faulty assumptions and homophobia. counselors need to have sufficient knowledge and skills to provide sensitive treatment to lesbians. Is the client expressing a feeling? Is the declaration based on experiential factors? Is it based on fear? All are possible because lesbians have had different life experiences. Thus. 1970).
state. However. We cannot always be the best in helping others but we can always try the best possible way to help them as long as we adhere to ethical guidelines. such as to first critically examine any myths and misconceptions they hold about lesbians. and behaviors. 1986). 1996). Specifically. and then to obtain specialized training in working with lesbian clients. 122 Masalah Pendidikan Jilid 26 Hakcipta@2003 Fakulti Pendidikan Universiti Malaya . Conclusion To understand lesbianism in a society that prohibits the practice of lesbianism is not an easy task because of the many value issues and conflicts a counselor has to consider. and stereotypes regarding sexual orientation (Weeks. 1988. myths. Their benefit is not just in helping lesbian clients but they also contribute to changing society's stereotypes and prejudices toward this minority population so that lesbians get societal support when needed. that is.moral values of counselors can also pose problems in maintaining objectivity when working with clients who want to explore their sexual feelings. (4) to acquire specialized knowledge about the lesbian population in general and about the meaning of a lesbian identity to particular individuals (Schneider & Tremble. (2) to acquire a body of knowledge about community resources for these clients. they proposed the following guidelines when counseling lesbian clients: (1) to change counselors' attitudes toward lesbians. fears. 1986). Schneider & Tremble. In view of this conflict. Most proposed quite similar strategies. and (5) to continue educating themselves about lesbian identity development and management (Eliason. attitudes. Studies have shown that workshops developed to enhance expertise of service providers who work with lesbian clients are proven effective. to accept her sexual orientation and to cope with the possibility of stigmatization (Schneider & Tremble. 1998. many writers have voiced their concern: Is it ethical to counsel lesbian clients without having received specialized training with this population? Implications for Counselors Researchers have given many recommendations to address the issues in counseling lesbian clients. there are ways to prepare ourselves for helping a lesbian client such as by fully understanding the code of ethics. (3) to confront counselors' personal prejudices. Most experts in this field suggest that counselors increase their awareness of ethical and therapeutic considerations in working with lesbian clients by taking advantage of continuing education workshops sponsored by national. Weinstein & Rosen.. 1986). 1985). and following the counseling association guidelines. These guidelines are consistent with the goal of helping the lesbian client advocated by most mental health professionals. always consulting other experienced experts. and local professional organizations (Corey et al. regional.
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