Understanding Queer Affirmative Therapy Practices

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Understanding Queer Affirmative Therapy Practices

Posted: 3-30-22 | The Affirmative Couch

Understanding Queer Affirmative Therapy Practices

The LGBTQ+ community deal with an array of unique struggles and challenges because of heteronormative societal standards that disallow them from living a life free of prejudice and oppression. Because of these challenges, queer people and members of the LGBTQ+ community must have therapy available to them that fits their specific needs. This article will show you why understanding queer affirmative therapy practices is so important in the world of psychotherapy.

Queer Affirmative Therapy

Queer affirmative therapy has roots going back to the 1980s when Alan K. Malyon developed a practice called “Gay Affirmative Therapy.” Malyon’s approach involved affirming the sexual identity of his clients rather than trying to convert them to heterosexuality, which was the norm in therapeutic methods of the time. Malyon organized a four-phase outline for the process of gay affirmative therapy.

Phase I:

Building therapeutic rapport and connection.

Phase II:

Analyzing client challenges and conflicts. Gathering insight on client attitude and state of mind. Then, begin cognitive restructuring.

Phase III:

Consolidate one’s identity and develop healthy intimate relationships.

Phase IV:

Establish a sense of personal meaning and purpose in one’s life.

Queer affirmative therapy aims to shift and transform the anxiety, depression, shame, and guilt experienced by members of the LGBTQ+ community and recognize the systemic and societal stigmas and prejudices that cause these feelings and experiences. In addition, this therapeutic practice affirms its clients’ sexual and gender identities, empowering them to live in their truths and open up a safe space within therapy where they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

Queer affirmative therapy also requires that the practicing therapist challenge their own belief systems, attitudes, and biases that come from heteronormative conditioning and assess how this may affect their treatment of clients. Within this therapeutic practice, therapists must also use affirming pronouns for their clients that recognize their individual identities and break away from heteronormative worldviews that perpetuate the oppression of the LGBTQ+ community.

Understanding queer affirmative therapy practices is essential for any psychotherapist who treats members of the LGBTQ+ community. The Affirmative Couch offers gender-affirming therapy training to further educate therapists on the importance and techniques of affirmative psychotherapy.


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