Counteracting the effects of invisibility in work with lesbian patients


  • Carolyn Saari

    Corresponding author
    1. Loyola University
    • Correspondence and requests for reprints should be sent to: Carolyn Saari, School of Social Work, Loyola University, 820 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611; e-mail:
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Lesbian women frequently experience “invisibility,” the failure of others to recognize the significance of their sexuality and partnership relations. Such invisibility can have deleterious effects, such as a reduced ability to relate life stories to others and thereby to extend and integrate aspects of identity and its healthy complexity. Although this invisibility often is intertwined with coming-out phenomena, it continues to exist in many social contexts throughout life. Therefore, it is important for psychotherapists to recognize and understand the concept of invisibility so that they do not perpetuate it within the therapy. Several case vignettes are used as examples of how invisibility can affect a woman's life and functioning and can be counteracted in therapy. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. J Clin Psychol/In Session 57: 645–654, 2001.