Contextual Issues in Couple and Family Therapy: Gender, Sexual Orientation, Culture, and Spirituality
Historically, one of the primary criticisms of family therapy was the failure of family therapy to see relationships in context (Taggart, 1985). Fortunately, as family therapy has evolved, therapists have come to recognize the powerful inﬂ uence that context has on individuals and their relationships. Individuals and families live in a society in which contexts such as gender, sexual orientation, culture, and spirituality are important and life shaping. To ignore the inﬂ uence of these issues is to do a disservice to families. For instance, a large body of literature shows that egalitarian couples are more satisﬁ ed in their relationships (Gottman & Silver, 1999; Larson, Hammond, & Harper, 1998; Rabin, 1996; Schwartz, 1994; Steil, 1997) and that spiritual rituals can improve health and healing (Hill & Pargament, 2003; Koenig, McCullough, & Larson, 2001; Walsh 2009). On the other hand, negative consequences occur when individuals develop intimate relationships based on power differentials (e.g., Canary & Stafford, 1992; Erickson, 1993; Gottman, 1991; Rabin, 1996) or hold harmful religious beliefs regarding homosexuality (Long & Andrews, 2011).