Doris Bersing, PhD
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A Victory for Therapists and LGBT: U.S. Supreme Court Says No To Conversion Therapy

NCLR June 30, 2014

NCLR June 30, 2014

I was so happy when earlier today, I received, like many of us, an email from Kate Kendell, Esq, the fabulous executive Director for The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) saying “…Earlier today, the United States Supreme Court declined to review a challenge to California’s law—which NCLR and Equality California helped draft, pass, and defend—that protects LGBT children from conversion therapists. The decision clears the way for enforcement of the first law in the nation that protects kids from unethical counselors and therapists who engage in these dangerous practices to try to change their sexual orientation or gender expression.

For therapists all around the globe these are GREAT NEWS, as NCLR picture shows “…you can not switch off who you are…” While as many as 1 in 3 LGBT people have been subjected to conversion therapy, whether by a licensed clinician, a religious leader, or another trusted adult, the trauma of these experiences can make it difficult to come forward. (Read some survivor stories)

It is really scaring to think that professionals who had studied the harmful effects of pushing a personal agenda into a psychotherapy client can be unethically oblivious of the devastating effects of conversion therapy (Read More About Conversion Therapy

What is next? Converting people of color into white or converting right brain people onto left-brain for the sake of somebody’s new agenda or bias? Give me a break. We therapists are supposed not to harm and be the catalyst for our clients’ process, it is not our place to change anybody but help them to explore their path and desires.

NCLR has launched the project NCLR has launched Born Perfect: The Campaign to End Conversion Therapyin the next five years by passing laws across the country to protect LGBT kids, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous practices.


The Forgotten Elders: They Also Benefit From Psychotherapy.

Elder WomanGeorge Kraus, a geriatric clinical psychologist debunks the stereotypes about working with elderly populations, and shares his discovery of the joy and gratitude that come from intimate contact with wise elders. He, wisely, address three important myths regarding psychotherapy and/or counseling with seniors:

  • Myth #1: Psychotherapy with the elderly is time wasted, because the elderly client has so little time to enjoy any gains that might be made.
  • Myth #2: The grief, loss, and somatic and socioeconomic burdens of the elderly are too excessive to warrant believing they could get better.
  • Myth #3: Old people are staid in their ways; they are too stubborn to change. Dr. Kraus emphasizes the fact that In America, “…we honor the young for their beauty, strength, and vitality. However, in other places on the globe, old men and women are objects of veneration. This leads to a curious consequence: the less we acknowledge what can be respected, admired, or even venerated in the parents and grandparents of the world, the more we make ourselves orphans who lose a piece of our faith, security, and connection to a past that we risk repeating. This has been part of my joy in working with older adults: I am able to honor them, to sit at their feet, marvel, and learn. As their therapist, I have become their faithful student, their privileged witness, and my life is ever richer because of it…” Read his article


Psychological Issues for LGBT Sexual Orientation

Copyright : leedsn

Copyright : leedsn

When discussing psychological issues involving our LGBT folks, we want to depathologize those issues and assure our clients, there IS NOTHING WRONG with them. The issues of sexual orientation, homosexuality, coming out, stigma, family rejection, homophobia are at the forefront when working with LGBT people. Even traditional organizations as the  American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844 – the world’s largest psychiatric organization that is a medical specialty society representing growing membership of more than 35,000 psychiatrists and the voice and conscience of modern psychiatry, works together to ensure humane care and effective treatment for all persons with mental disorders states that being part of the LGBT spectrum is not a mental illness…. THANK YOU, What a concept!

Talking about a concept, the APA states that “…the concept of sexual orientation refers to more than sexual behavior. It includes feelings as well as identity. Some individuals may identify themselves as gay lesbian or bisexual without engaging in any sexual activity. Some people believe that sexual orientation is innate and fixed; however, sexual orientation develops across a person’s lifetime. Individuals maybe become aware at different points in their lives that they are heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual… Read More


Gay and Lesbian Couples Counseling

Copyright : Rudolph Pieterse

I am always looking for the latest, the newest article or event related to LGBT well-being or LGBT rights, just a passion of mine, and part of my practice. However, some things like the Iliad by Homer and the Bible are timeless. Not always the newer is the better. For instance, I ran into a wonderful article by by Michael C. LaSala, Ph.D., LCSW in Gay and Lesbian Well-Being for Psychology Today where he addresses the issues of  “Helping Same-Sex Couples Who’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”

Dr. LaSala stresses the importance  -in the midst of our fight for same sex marriage, he addresses how to avoid same sex divorce, and said “…What about couples’ therapy? If your relationship is having problems and you are pursuing this step, that’s a good sign–the prognosis for your partnership is good because people who take action to save (or improve) a troubled relationship often manage to do so. However, if you’re looking for someone to referee your conflicts, or to finally convince your thickheaded partner of your unassailable sense of fairness and the truth, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Over the past 25 years, I have done quite a bit of relationship therapy and here is some of what I have learned that you should keep in mind as you move forward…”

Sometimes, I think couples, LGBT or others just wait too long to seek therapy and sometimes it is too late when they come to see me for help. Perhaps this article will help you to do the right thing in a timely manner (wink-wink). Read Dr. LaSala article


Same-Sex Marriage, Next stop? The U.S. Supreme Court!

Lesbian Marriage

Copyright : Jack Young

On Wednesday,  On June 25th, 2014 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued a historic ruling affirming the December 2013 decision from U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby in Kitchen v. Herbert that the amendment to the Utah Constitution barring marriage for same-sex couples violates the U.S. Constitution.  NCLR and Human Rights  won a landmark victory in their Utah marriage equality case in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals–the FIRST federal appeals court to rule in favor of marriage equality since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last June, and the FIRST EVER to hold that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry.

The 2-1 ruling by a panel of the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals marks the first time a federal appellate court has upheld same-sex marriage. One year ago, on June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a landmark ruling that extended federal benefits to gays — though the high court stopped short of ruling that same-sex marriage was a constitutionally protected right. Read More


Therapy for older LGBT individuals

happy lesbian couple.When addressing the needs for counseling and therapy for the LGBT population, we are already stressing the importance of this segment of our society, however like with any group of people, we cannot just compile ALL issues for all of the group in only one issue or set of issues as the solutions are not one size fits all, either. In 2011, David Richards’ article ‘Working with older LGBT people’ (http://www.therapytoday.net/article/show/2830/)  explores the challenges of working therapeutically with older LGBT men and women, for gay, lesbian and heterosexual practitioners”. He stresses the generalities of working with this population but as expressed by Carly Hall: “… there are some issues that I would like to raise in the interests of older lesbians. I speak as a lesbian growing older, a client, a healthcare professional and a researcher…First, to address LGBT as one general group I believe is incorrect. Even taking out the bisexual and transgender, one is still left with two hugely diverse groups. Political, sociological and economic influences over the years, combined with the biology of being a woman, will inevitably make older lesbians’ experiences markedly different from those of gay men of a similar age.Women who today are over 65 (born pre-1947) and identify as lesbians are acknowledged by health and social care researchers to be a difficult group to reach; ‘convenience’ samples may not always be representative of the wide group. But there are findings from pertinent research studies, including my own, which may have relevance for the therapist.  Read Carly Hall’s article (http://www.therapytoday.net/article/show/2972/)


Bill Clinton Adds Voice to Wife’s Support of Gay Rights

By Amy Chozic for the New York Times

Hillary Clinton official Secretary of State portrait crop Former President Bill Clinton, in a video message to be broadcast this week, says he was “honored and grateful to be among the voices urging” the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act, the measure he signed into law in 1996 that barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Mr. Clinton’s remarks will be included in a special program to honor gay rights activists that will be shown on Thursday on Logo TV, a cable channel aimed at gay and lesbian viewers. The special, called “Trailblazers,” will mark the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the marriage act, and will pay tribute to two figures in the case: Roberta A. Kaplan, a lawyer, and Edith Windsor, the plaintiff. “As marriage equality spreads across the states, the number of people impacted by these two amazing women will only continue to grow,” Mr. Clinton said. Read More


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