counselling resources inadequate for gays, lesbians and bisexuals?

Does the GLB Group Need More Counselling Resources?


N.E.Whitehead, Ph.D



United States studies have concluded that the GLB (gay, lesbian, bisexual) community seems to be adequately represented in the ranks of counselors (Pope, 1993, Klitzman, 1998)

But these results can be misleading. It is quite possible the GLB group has a special need for counselling.

The survey literature (Herrell, 1999, Sandfort, 2001, Fergusson, 2005) now shows rather consistently that the GLB group has about three times the dysfunction of a control group of heterosexuals. This does not seem to be very much connected to discrimination, because it remains constant regardless of country, e.g., in New Zealand, where a recent survey showed the country had some of the most accepting views towards GLB in the world (Dickson, 2003).

Detailed study of the surveys suggests that the conditions needing counselling are likely to be substance abuse, depression, and problems over relationship breakups. The GLB community lives intensely and breaks up intensely. It has about three times as many partners as a control group of heterosexuals (Laumann, 1993), so it probably no surprise that there are about three times as many attempted suicides, and about three times the counselling requirements.

In addition, a significant minority wish to try and change their sexual orientation because of dissatisfaction with the gay lifestyle. However, counsellors offering that therapy appear to be a small minority.

Conclusion: The GLB community seems to have a greater need for counselling resources than might be expected.



Dickson, N., Paul, C. and Herbison, P. (2003) Same-sex attraction in a birth cohort: prevalence and persistence in early adulthood. Social Science and Medicine, 56, 1607-1615.

Fergusson, D.M., Horwood, L.J., Ridder, E.M. and Beautrais,A.L, (2005) Sexual orientation and mental health in a birth cohort of young adults. Psychological Medicine, 35, 971-981.

Herrell, R., Goldberg, J., True, W.R., Ramakrishnan,V., Lyons , M., Eisen, S. and Tsuang, M.T. (1999) Sexual orientation and suicidality: a co-twin control study in adult men. Archives of General  Psychiatry, 56, 867-874.

Klitzman, R., Bodkin, J.A. and Pope, H.G. (1998) Sexual orientation and associated characteristics among North American academic psychologists. Journal of Sex Research, 35, 282-287.

Laumann, E.O., Gagnon, J.H., Michael, R.T. and Michaels, S. (1994) The Social Organization of Sexuality. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Pope, K.S., Sonne, J.L. and Holroyd, J. (1993) Sexual feelings in psychotherapy: explorations for therapists and therapists-in-training. American Psychological Association, Washington, DC .

Sandfort, T.G.M., de Graaf, R., Bijl, R.V. and Schnabel, P. (2001) Same-sex sexual behavior and psychiatric disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 58, 85-91.