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Date of Award


Degree Type

Dissertation (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Miller Garrison, PhD

Second Advisor

Peggy Hanley-Hackenbruck, MD

Third Advisor

Joan Dayger Behn, PhD


This manual is for the psychotherapist working with lesbian clients and is based on a review of the recent literature on that subject. The manual begins with background data on lesbianism, the history of psychological treatment and research on lesbians, current stances on therapy with lesbian clients, and the value and distinctiveness of lesbian-affirmative psychotherapy. Most topics appearing in the literature since approximately 1980 are reviewed and discussed. These include (a) the importance of special training for the therapist, such as knowledge of the effects of homophobia on therapy and ethical considerations; (b) theory and research on the lesbian identity formation process, and the therapist's facilitation of this process; (c) characteristics of lesbian relationships and the therapist's tasks in working with relationship matters in therapy; and (d) special topics that pertain to lesbians as therapy clients: lesbian mothers, sexuality, alcoholism, youth and aging, and AIDS. Appendices provide exercises for the therapist to enhance her or his understanding of lesbianism, a resource list, and an annotated bibliography of the current literature.