In its landmark ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States declared that “The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex,” making same-sex marriage legal across the country. As couples in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) community enter marriage, they may experience the same relational issues as heterosexual married couples, and potentially a unique set of challenges as well. For marriage and family therapists who specialize in LGBTQ couples counseling, understanding those challenges is important.
Our Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy with an LGBTQ couple and family therapy specialization is designed to prepare students to work with clients in the LGBTQ community and to specialize in working with couples and families using a family therapy, systems-oriented approach.
“We feel we have created a very solid curriculum,” said Professor Valerie Glass, PhD, LMFT. “The classes provide an in-depth look at the various forms of LGBTQ families, the possible unique challenges these families might face, the understanding of the social environment surrounding LGBTQ couples and families, and the therapeutic tools for addressing these challenges.”
Understanding the Challenges Faced by the LGBTQ Community
When working with LGBTQ couples, therapists must be prepared to deal with a variety of issues during counseling. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, some of these issues include:
- Discrimination for housing. “Nearly one-quarter (23%) of respondents experienced some form of housing discrimination in the past year, such as being evicted from their home or denied a home or apartment because of being transgender. Nearly one-third (30%) of respondents have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. In the past year, one in eight (12%) respondents experienced homelessness because of being transgender.”
- Discrimination in the workplace. “In the past year, 27% of those who held or applied for a job during that year—19% of all respondents—reported being fired, denied a promotion, or not being hired for a job they applied for because of their gender identity or expression. Fifteen percent (15%) of respondents who had a job in the past year were verbally harassed, physically attacked, and/or sexually assaulted at work because of their gender identity or expression.”
- Discrimination in school. “The majority of respondents who were out or perceived as transgender while in school (K–12) experienced some form of mistreatment, including being verbally harassed (54%), physically attacked (24%), and sexually assaulted (13%) because they were transgender. Further, 17% experienced such severe mistreatment that they left a school as a result.”
- Discrimination in health care. “Respondents encountered high levels of mistreatment when seeking health care. In the year prior to completing the survey, one-third (33%) of those who saw a health care provider had at least one negative experience related to being transgender, such as being verbally harassed or refused treatment because of their gender identity. Additionally, nearly one-quarter (23%) of respondents reported that they did not seek the health care they needed in the year prior to completing the survey due to fear of being mistreated as a transgender person, and 33% did not go to a health care provider when needed because they could not afford it.”
A Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy with an LGBTQ couple and family therapy specialization can prepare students to address issues facing LGBTQ couples, as well as gain at least 100 hours of clinical experience in an approved setting with a qualified local clinical supervisor.
NCU’s MAMFT was the first distance-based program to receive COAMFTE accreditation and our PhD-MFT is the first, and still the only, distance-based doctoral program to receive COAMFTE’s coveted programmatic accreditation.
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