Clinical Counselling in Voluntary and Community Settings

By Quentin Stimpson | Go to book overview

Chapter 8

How does the nature of the client group or the presenting problem affect the clinical work?

Sue Cottrell and Alison Elgar

This chapter will be dealing specifically with the issue of sexuality and asking whether separate counselling services should be available for lesbian or gay clients. We will not be including the issues relevant to bisexual clients although we acknowledge that some of what we discuss is relevant to bisexuality. We will also not be looking at the question of gender in any detail. Lesbian and gay are often put together, yet there are differences between the two, not just in terms of culture but also in terms of gender. This will not be discussed in this chapter. We hope to be raising more questions than we answer and offering food for thought, consideration and reflection, rather than the definitive guide to lesbian and gay specific counselling.

As authors we are committed to the idea of lesbian and gay specific services. However we believe these will not be without their own difficulties. It could be argued that sexuality is inherently about relationships, and it is the therapeutic relationship that concerns and interests us as therapists. The different aspects of working with lesbian and gay clients, as 'out' lesbian therapists, provides much 'grist for the mill'. It is working for lesbian and gay services that proved insights and further explorations not necessarily available within a generic counselling setting. It is the provision of counselling for lesbians and gay men, by lesbians and gay men, within a safe, supportive, non-pathologising environment that forms the basis for healing.

Both authors of this chapter have worked for specialist lesbian and gay counselling services. This work informs our discussion of counselling services for lesbian and gay men, providing services specifically for lesbians and gay men and those questioning their sexuality. We are counsellors and come from different theoretical orientations. What we have in common is the fact that we both positively identify as lesbian.

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