Category: Couples / Close Relationships

Mini Workshop

Mini Workshop 13 - Delivering Culturally Competent Behavioral Couple Therapy When Working With Same-Sex Couples

Saturday, November 18
10:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Location: Aqua 300 A & B, Level 3, Aqua Level

Keywords: Couple Therapy | Couples / Close Relationships | L / G / B / T
Presentation Type: Mini Workshop
Level of Familiarity: Basic to Moderate

Same- and other-sex couples evidence similarities on multiple measures of relationship functioning (e.g., quality, satisfaction, and communication). However, same-sex couples exist within a social context associated with minority stress. For instance, same-sex couples must manage exposure and reactions to stigma and discrimination (e.g., deciding whether to come out in various areas of one's life; responding to legalized or institutional forms of discrimination) and must navigate multiple barriers if wishing to bring children into the family. Despite unique relational strengths (e.g., use of humor to manage conflict), same-sex couples are at heightened risk for relationship dissolution.
Evaluations of behavioral interventions designed to strengthen male and female same-sex couples relationship skills have been shown to be efficacious. Program attendees reported that the intervention techniques being taught were useful. However, adaptation of these strategies to include foci not typically addressed in traditional relationship interventions is needed. For instance, when working with male same-sex couples, broadening the application of communication skills to include discussion of nonmonogamy agreements was beneficial. Further, both same-sex couples and couple interventionists indicated that additional interventions may be useful, including strategies for managing experiences with stress (e.g., discrimination and microaggressions).
As LGBT individuals have not consistently experienced mental health providers as equipped to provide culturally competent care, same-sex couples may be cautious when seeking services. Clinicians' ability to avoid unintended microaggressions while simultaneously signaling one's ability to provide culturally sensitive care to these couples is critical.
This workshop will provide information on delivering evidence-based behavioral couple intervention techniques in a culturally sensitive manner. Additionally, providers will learn strategies for signaling cultural competence to same-sex couples seeking services.

Learning Objectives:

Recommended Reading: Whitton, S. W., Weitbrecht, E.M., Kuryluk, A. D., & Hutsell, D. W. (2016). A randomized waitlist-controlled trial of culturally sensitive relationship education for male same-sex couples. Journal of Family Psychology, 30, 763-768.
Scott, S. B., & Rhoades, G. K. (2014). Relationship education for lesbian couples: Perceived barriers and content considerations. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 13(4), 339-364.
Khouddouma, A. M., Norona, J.C., & Whitton, S. W. (2015). Individual, couple, and contextual factors associated with same-sex relationship instability. Couple and Family Psychology, 2, 106-125.

Brian Buzzella

Director, Family Mental Health Program
VA San Diego Healthcare System


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Shelby Scott

Women's Mental Health Psychologist; LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator
Denver VA Medical Center


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Sarah W. Whitton

Associate Professor
University of Cincinnati


Send Email for Sarah Whitton


Mini Workshop 13 - Delivering Culturally Competent Behavioral Couple Therapy When Working With Same-Sex Couples

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