This paper highlights a family psychotherapy session with a lesbian client who faces a challenge to present her case to her conservative parents, and opening up to the reality of her sexuality at age 39. The session takes 40 minutes, marked with various questions that endeavor to help the client to open up on the situation she is facing, to help her make a correct decision regarding the best course of action. Due to her conservative background, the client was invited in the session to think about what it might be like, if she decided to talk to her parents. The counselor helped the client to come into terms with the consequences of revealing what she thinks is difficult. The client various issues, which she had difficulties internalizing, but living up as a lesbian with a happy lifestyle made her realize and pursue her possibilities in life.
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Due to the sensitive nature of the subject, the client was not in most times free to explain fully her feelings; hence, the counselor rephrased questions often to help the client improve her readiness to talk. Here, the question is about helping her to come in terms with the questioning and deciding on how to reveal her sexuality freely. In examination of the client’s thoughts and nonverbal behaviors, it is clear that this subject challenged the client because, for instance in cases where she perceived counselors to have biases regarding issues of sexuality (Polanski & Hinkle, 2000). The client said that issues of sexuality are progressing in contexts that are discriminatory and biased. According to the client, people, especially those with conservative ideas, were likely to internalize the negative concepts of homosexuality. In this case, the client came from a conservative home with conservative values hence is grappling with issues of whether her parents will accept her lesbian orientation (Polanski & Hinkle, 2000).
When asked whether she thinks she wants to be a parent, the client reported that until last month she would have said no. At first, with her situation, she could not come to terms with the idea of having children. She thought that she could be happy without them since she was interested more in her work. However, she explained that her stand regarding being a parent changed when she attended a party where a lesbian couple testified of having adopted a child. She then changed her mindset and believed that being a parent could give her more responsibility than she had. She knew it could happen, but she had neither thought about it practically. She said that the lesbian couple seemed to be happy and stable as they provided for the child. That stirred up some feelings that she had never experienced before, and transformed her perspective on having children.
Being a parent became a new possibility for her and, through the discussion, the client was often uncomfortable with the question. In such cases, smiling helped to break the tension for her as she was helped to realize that the counselor understood the situation. The client indicated that it was hard to disclose to her parents about her decision to leave the man whom she was staying with. In her family, it was her youngest brother who seemed to understand her predicament, and could accept her more than the other family members. The younger brother is more accepting because he is different from the rest of the family. Asked whether it is a bad thing to be different from the other members of the family, the client retorted that being not like mother and father was so difficult for her to bear and was considered a negative thing.
Furthermore, parents are very judgmental when it comes to issues of sexuality. They expect their children to grow up with similar family structures they have brought them in. In this case, the counselor was very careful in handling her, allowing her to explore herself and making the environment open for her. The counselor helped her to make her own decisions on how it can make a difference if she made one choice instead of another. The client considered other possibilities such as changing her relationship with parents if they never come to understand her situation. It often made her nervous when thinking about the problem and particularly thinking that her father and mother might never understand her sexuality. She said that it was hard to tell her mother that she wanted to leave her husband because she was a lesbian.
Polanski, P.J., & Hinkle, S.J. (2000). The Mental Status Examination: Its Use by Professional
Counselors. Journal of Counseling & Development, 78, 357-364.