Lesbians recall the experience of questioning in therapy
School for Social Work
Lesbians-Psychology, Lesbians-Identity, Social work with lesbians, Questioning, Interviewing in psychiatry, Sexual orientation, Gender identity, LGBT, Lesbian, Sexuality, Questioning, Identity, Treatment
The purpose of this study was twofold: to pursue an existing gap in the literature on therapy with people questioning their sexuality; and to represent a lesbian perspective on the experience of questioning one’s sexual orientation. A previous study (Jones et al., 2003) found that gay and bisexual people who were uncertain of their sexual orientation at the start of therapy rated the treatment as overall less beneficial than gay and bisexual people who had begun therapy while certain of their identities. This study explored the possible reasons behind this finding by investigating a small (N=13) but diverse group of lesbians’ recalled experiences of questioning while in therapy. Overall, while some participants described overwhelmingly negative or positive experiences, most had middling experiences with therapy. Most participants were content or happy with many aspects of the treatment, but felt their therapists had weak points when it came to discussions of sexuality in particular. Many of these weak points were related in some way to failures in attunement; several possible reasons for these failures are discussed. Openness to questioning on the part of the therapist is linked to openness on the part of the patient, as is the therapist’s self-disclosure. Recommendations are made for a model of practice that openly questions heterosexuality and challenges its normalcy within the therapeutic space.
Willstatter, Emily, "Standing on the edge of the "Rubyfruit jungle" : lesbians recall the experience of questioning in therapy" (2016). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.