Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Good Gay Day

- by Stacey Prince

During the first week of August I was in Long Beach, CA at a training for VA mental health professionals who are learning an evidence based approach to treating relationship distress called Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy. I’m one of the consultants on the project, which is part of a larger rollout of empirically validated treatments for a variety of veteran issues including PTSD, depression, family conflict and relationship distress. As a consultant on the project I will be providing phone supervision to the therapists, who are from VA hospitals and Vet Centers around the country. Prior to the training, I asked the organizers if same-sex couples would be treated as part of the project. Despite Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender veterans (primarily not active duty, for obvious reasons) and their families have traditionally sought mental health treatment at VA’s. These numbers will likely increase as DADT is likely to be repealed as soon as this Fall.

I was told by the project coordinators that yes, the therapists would be working with same-sex couples, and they then asked me to prepare a talk on the topic to be added to the week-long training schedule. This felt like a small victory—both that same-sex couples would be included, and that material on issues of importance to LGB clients and couples would be presented. Unfortunately, because the week’s programming was already set, my talk was squeezed in to the lunch hour during one of the training days. This felt somewhat marginalizing (for example, people had to choose between taking a break in the middle of a long day and coming to my talk) and a few participants noted that. The organizer did arrange for box lunches to be delivered, which helped a lot.

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