I’m proud to announce that I’ve written a new article with my friend and colleague Dr. Deb Coolhart for the journal Family Process which is published in its latest issue. Our article, titled “Expanding the Therapy Paradigm with Queer Couples: A Relational Intersectional Lens” is part of a special issue edited by Dr. Robert-Jay Green of the Rockway Institute, focused on cutting-edge work with GLBTQ clients.
Dr. Coolhart and I particularly wanted to highlight the way that our queer couples are often challenging the status quo in many dimensions of their lives, not just their gender and/or sexuality. Same-sex couples are more likely to have large age differences, and to include partners of different races, religions, ethnicities, class backgrounds, and educational levels, than mixed-sex couples. They are also more likely to choose negotiated non-monogamy (sometimes called “open relationships” or “polyamory.”)
Bringing these dimensions into the conversation also requires us to consider our own identities as the therapist. As a woman, when I work with two men or two women, the subject of gender comes up differently than it does if I work with a male/female couple, but my cisgender identity should also be considered particularly when one or both partners are transgender or genderqueer. Couples are often looking for signs that the therapist might be favoring one member, so when I share some of my identities with one partner but not the other, I want us to talk about how our similarities and differences are part of the conversation even before any of us speaks a word in session, to get potential concerns out in the open and consider how they might influence our relationship.
Dr. Coolhart and I actually think that our article has a lot to say that is helpful to therapists working with straight couples as well – after all, it’s not just queer couples who navigate difference and similarity (and the power imbalances they can create) on a daily basis. We’re excited to have our article published in the most influential Family Studies journal out there, and hope to get the chance to follow up with some writing about our experience working with polyamorous relationships sometime soon.