In my last post, I discussed how online counseling may be an ideal approach to therapy for LGBTQ couples.  In this post, I will go into what options exist for treatment and how they would be used by a couple.

So what are the options?

Email Exchanges: Writing an email can be a very therapeutic tool.  For these emails, clients and their therapist interact asynchronously, or at different times – they do not need to be online at the same time.  By writing an email, clients can take time to put their thoughts into words and send that information to their therapist via encrypted secure emails.  In turn, a therapist can also take time in responding to a client’s pressing issues in a manner that allows reflection on the therapist’s part.

Online Chat, Video-chat, or Telephone Conference Sessions: Chat sessions, whether they be via a secure chat program, video-chat, or telephone conference can all allow the client to engage with a therapist in real-time. In these sessions, or synchronous sessions, the client and therapist are online or engaged in a telephone interaction at the same time. Work towards therapeutic goals is completed at a set appointment time.  Homework or other exercises are assigned as needed by the therapist, depending on the school of thought from which they draw their clinical expertise.

 

How do these work with couples?

With email exchanges, one option is to have each partner take turns writing emails to the therapist.  The therapist will then reply to the individual email.  Another option is to have the couple create an email as a unit – a relationship email journal. Concerns shared by the couple can be explained to the therapist and again, the therapist can reply to them in one email or a series of exchanges.

In chat or telephone sessions, couples can take part in a session with the therapist – all three can take part in the process. Here, both partners can have the opportunity to voice concerns.  Another choice would be for each partner to meet the therapist individually for an online session.  Any of these approaches can also include video options, which would enable the couple to see the therapist and vice versa.  Personal preferences often dictate which method will be best suited for a couple.

As I have already mentioned, a culturally sensitive therapist, such as one that considers the many specific challenges faced by the LGBTQ population will best be suited to help clients with their concerns, whether online or face-to-face.  Being able to find a therapist to speak to you about  your deepest thoughts should not be something contingent on whether they will accept you based on your sexual orientation.  Fostering a safe environment for personal growth is key to therapeutic success, both at the individual  and couples level. This is even more so when the client is asking to be listened to without judgment.

How can we as a community increase our cultural sensitivity, specifically with the LGBTQ population? Any ideas? I would love to hear from you.

 

Belky Perez Schwartz is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Florida. Read more about Belky Perez Schwartz on her website.

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