12 Pages

A New Paradigm for Women’s Sexual Orientation: Implications for Therapy

In the past 50 years, scientific research has challenged many wide­ spread beliefs about women’s sexual orientation and has led therapists to reconsider their own assumptions about women’s sexuality. Three important models of women’s sexual orientation have failed to be sup­ ported by research. Today, therapists and their professional associations reject an “illness model” which suggested that heterosexuals are normal and mentally healthy, but homosexuals are abnormal and impaired in their psychological functioning (see review by Gonsiorek, 1991). In­ stead, an affirmative approach to practice has emerged that focuses on helping lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals to cope adaptively with the impact of stigma, minority status, and difference from the heterosexual mainstream (see the Guidelines for Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients that were adopted in 2000 by the American Psy­ chological Association Council of Representatives).