Conceptual and ethical issues in therapy for the psychological problems of gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals


  • Gerald C. Davison

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Southern California
    • Correspondence and requests for reprints should be sent to: Dr. Gerald C. Davison, Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089–1061;
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Reviewed here are a number of conceptual and ethical issues surrounding the study and treatment of gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals (GLB), with particular emphasis on the frequently overlooked political and ethical dimensions of what therapists choose to treat, indeed, on the goals patients themselves want to work towards. Several issues are discussed, including the relevance and irrelevance of sexual orientation and the role of therapist biases in assessment and treatment planning, the need for better understanding of how the problems of GLB patients are construed and the associated dangers of stereotyping, the challenges of coming out and the ways therapists can help patients make the decision and how to implement it, the extra effort required to be a GLB person in terms of the formation of an unconventional social and sexual identity, the trust issues that can arise when one partner in a committed relationship requests protected sex, the challenges and rewards of parents “coming out” as family members of a gay son or daughter, the social invisibility of lesbians and the deleterious effects this can have on them, social support issues for GLB youth, and the need for professionals to take a broad, institutional community psychology perspective to their study and treatment of GLB individuals. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. J Clin Psychol/In Session 57: 695–704, 2001.