Lesbian Identity and Contemporary Psychotherapy
A Framework for Clinical Practice
Routledge – 2003 – 212 pages
Recent contributions to the psychoanalytic and psychotherapeutic literature have moved beyond traditional views of lesbianism, but they have tended to address lesbian identity from one theoretical vantage point or another. Rarely have new ideas been linked to the process issues that arise in actual clinical situations. Lesbian Identity and Contemporary Psychotherapy undertakes this very task, and, in so doing, documents the therapeutic gains that result from validating lesbian sexual identity and life experience.
Drawing on contemporary relational thinking and new perspectives on gender and sexuality, Goldstein and Horowitz describe and illustrate an affirmative approach to clinical work with lesbians at various stages of the life cycle. Adolescent, young adult, and family issues are all brought within their compass. Making ample use of case vignettes, they demonstrate the ways in which therapists can elicit their patients' personal narratives of self-acceptance as lesbians and coming out experiences; work with the transference and countertransference dynamics subsequent to such disclosures; and finally explore the collaborative process through which therapist and patient seek to understand their therapeutic interaction.
A range of life circumstances are brought within the authors' refreshingly "hands-on" clinical approach. Special consideration is given to issues arising when lesbians date and initiate romantic relationships and to the relationship problems that develop in ongoing partnerships during the middle and later years. The book concludes by discussing the issues faced by lesbian therapists in treating lesbian patients and in interacting with heterosexual colleagues.
An exemplary overview of newer views of lesbian identity and of the challenges of lesbian life, Lesbian Identity and Contemporary Psychotherapy is equally valuable as an up to date, relationally informed guide to clinical work with lesbian patients.
"Goldstein and Horowitz have written a superb teaching text that will be useful to students and experienced clinicians, to straight and queer therapists alike. They not only provide a comprehensive introduction to psychotherapy with lesbian patients but offer richly detailed and moving clinical illustrations that include verbatim accounts of actual sessions. The reader not only learns about lesbian relationships and lesbian identity but, more importantly, learns to struggle with his or her own personal and subjective responses to lesbian patients."
- Lewis Aron, Ph.D., Director, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis
"Goldstein and Horowitz ably provide the reader with a view of the psychosocial and relational matrices in which treatment with lesbian patients takes place. At the same time, responsiveness to the needs of the individual patient remains the central focus of their clinical work. Their approach to transference and countertransference admirably demonstrates how one goes about translating psychoanalytic theory into actual practice. All this makes Lesbian Identity and Contemporary Psychotherapy an extremely useful volume both for clinicians wishing to learn more about gay affirmative treatment and for those interested in psychotherapy in general."
- Jack Drescher, M.D., Author, Psychoanalytic Therapy and the Gay Man (Analytic Press, 1998)
"Lesbian Identity and Contemporary Psychotherapy is an indispensable resource for all psychotherapists. Goldstein and Horowitz provide a feast of clear, lively, and detailed clinical case examples. And their sophisticated, wise use of contemporary psychoanalytic thinking helps illustrate the diversity of lesbian experience as well as the clinical challenges and pleasures of working with lesbian patients."
- Maggie Magee and Diana C. Miller, Authors, Lesbian Lives (Analytic Press, 1997)
Introduction. Psychoanalytic Theory and Lesbianism: The Changing Landscape. A Framework for Clinical Practice. Lesbian Narratives and the Treatment Process. Working with Transference. Working with Countertransference. The Initial Stage of Lesbian Relationships: Clinical Considerations. Issues in Midlife and Later Life: Clinical Considerations. Experiences of the Lesbian Therapist.
Eda Goldstein, D.S.W., is professor at the New York University Shirley M. Ehrenkranz School of Social Work and consulting editor to various professional journals, including Clinical Social Work Journal and Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services. Her publications include Ego Psychology and Social Work Practice (1984/1995) and Object Relations Theory and Self Psychology in Social Practice (2001).
Lois C. Horowitz, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst in private practice who specializes in individual and couples treatment and clinical supervision. She has written and lectured on lesbian identity and psychoanalytic theory.