Therapy Today, November 2008 issue by Margaret Evans

Gay affirmative therapy for the straight clinician:
the essential guide

Dr. Joe Kort
WW Norton & Company 2008
ISBN 978-0393704976
Therapy Today, November 2008 issue
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Gay Affirmative Therapy review in Therapy Today November 08 (736K)

This book, written in a highly accessible style, is suitable for both novice and experienced
counsellors whose earlier training may have omitted lesbian and gay issues. It is essential reading for
the straight therapist who has not explored his or her own prejudices and has little knowledge of the
lesbian and gay world.
The comprehensive text is broken into small sections which aid clarity on each page. The author involves himself in the text as counsellor and supervisor and therapists are given specific suggestions on how they should treat their clients, illustrated with plenty of relevant case examples.
Kort’s interesting concept is that lesbian and gay people suffer not only from internalised homophobia, but
actually from posttraumatic stress disorder rooted in their upbringing of ‘covert cultural sexual abuse’ and family disapproval.

He references Erikson’s developmental model, but identifies ‘developmental insults’, and suggests a differential diagnosis using gay affirmative therapy principles for common mental health disorders.
As an American book the language sometimes arrests and there are some notable British names missing from the references (e.g.Davies and Neal). Kort surprisingly takes a polarised position on the gay/straight divide. ‘Queer’ is only briefly mentioned and without full explanation of its use in challenging binary notions of gender as well as sexuality. Bisexuality is scarcely mentioned, although some case examples would indicate bisexuality. Transgender issues are also deliberately missing. Gay parenting is omitted, but there are some useful sections on helping family adjustment when children come out.
Couple counsellors will find two valuable chapters on counselling lesbian and gay couples not found in many other texts. This includes counselling married couples where one partner is gay, or lesbian and gay couples where one has previously been in a heterosexual relationship, as well as other common difficulties in same-sex couple relationships.
Kort believes passionately in challenging ignorance and he insists that therapists must be ‘gayinformed’.
He has succeeded in providing readers with a good start by providing basic specific information needed to equip counsellors to work therapeutically with lesbian and gay clients. Acomprehensive glossary covers language used in lesbian and gay cultures which is generally common across the American/British divide.
Margaret Evans BACP (Snr Accred)
Sexual minority accredited therapist, supervisor and counselling lecturer
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