Like any other married couple, same-sex couples have challenges in their relationships. Sometimes they can work things out on their own. Sometimes they need help to sort things out.
Counseling for same-sex couples is in some ways much the same as heterosexual couples. The dynamics of the issues and treatment approaches are very similar. Your therapist will help you to explore and identify the issues of the relationship. You’ll learn ways to talk about and solve problems together while strengthening your bond as a couple.
However, same-sex couples face some challenges that are different from straight couples. Same-sex couples often struggle with concerns of acceptance and comfort when deciding to seek couples counseling. Partners may be apprehensive about speaking openly and honestly about their feelings and the particulars of their relationship.
Not all marriage therapists are experienced in working with same-sex couples. Some marriage therapists specialize in treating same-sex couples. Still others may be experienced in marriage counseling with heterosexual couples only but completely open to working with a same-sex couple.
It’s OK to ask counselors about their experience in working specifically with same-sex couples. As with counseling other types of relationships, having had the experience of a same-sex relationship is not a prerequisite for being able to counsel same-sex couples. What is necessary is having training and experience in marriage therapy and understanding the unique needs of a same-sex couple.
Because comfort is such a significant issue, you may want to look for counselors who offer a “meet & greet” session or consultation. Sometimes these are free or have a small fee. These are brief meetings between the therapist and potential client to see if they are a good fit for each other. This meeting also allows you to see the office and meet the staff. Do you feel comfortable? Do you feel welcome? Is the therapist and staff warm and inviting? As with any other counseling situation, feeling like it all “fits” is critical to a positive experience. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s ok to try another therapist.
If you’re in a same-sex relationship and are in need of counseling, don’t let your fears hold you back from seeking help. Experienced and compassionate marriage counselors are ready to help you and your partner heal and nurture your relationship.