Gay affirmative therapy: A theoretical framework and defence

Langdridge, D (2007). Gay affirmative therapy: A theoretical framework and defence. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy, 11(1/2) pp. 27–43.




Gay affirmative therapy (GAT) has recently emerged in an attempt to rectify previously discriminatory psychotherapeutic practice with lesbians, bisexuals and gay men. GAT aims to achieve this by providing a framework for practice which is affirmative of lesbian, gay and bisexual identities. This "positive framework" is clearly challenging for psychotherapies which seek to avoid imposing specific expectations on their clients, and a number of humanistic and existential psychotherapists have challenged the applicability of such a framework for their practice. This paper examines these arguments and suggests that Ricoeur's formulation of hermeneutic phenomenology may provide a solution. It is argued that incorporating a version of a hermeneutic of suspicion and critique of the illusions of the subject into psychotherapeutic practice would enable therapists to recognise and work with the twin impact of the psychotherapist and social world on the construction of a client's sexual identity.

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