Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Lesbian Couples

  • Linda Stone FishEmail author
  • Rebecca Harvey
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_487

Name of Family Form

Lesbian couples


Gay affirmative therapy; Gay couples; Queer couples LGBTQ couples; Same sex couples


The position of LGBTQ people in relation to the mental health professions has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. In 1952, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ (DSM) first edition classified homosexuality as a sexual deviation and a form of mental illness (American Psychiatric Association 1952). In that context, even the phrase “lesbian couples” was self-contradictory and illegitimate. By 1973, homosexuality was taken out of the second edition of the DSM paving the way for decades of significant and dramatic improvements in the acceptance of queer couples and families culminating in 2015 when gay marriage became legal in all 50 states. Given the relative velocity of these attitude changes, it is important to remember that the professional literature on lesbian couples is nascent, covering only a rudimentary...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. (2009). AAMFT position on couples and families. http://www.aamft.org/Imis15/content/aboutaamft/position on couples.aspx
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (1952). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  3. Basson, R. (2002). Women’s sexual desire-disordered or misunderstood? Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 28, 17–28.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Corrigan, K.D. (2015). What does it mean to be married? Experiences of legally married lesbian couples. Doctoral dissertation. Retrieved from ProQuest (10003032).Google Scholar
  5. Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. The University of Chicago Legal Forum., 140, 139–167.Google Scholar
  6. Diamond, L. M. (2008). Sexual fluidity: Understanding women’s love and desire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Fedewa, A. L., Black, W. W., & Ahn, S. (2015). Children and adolescents with same gender parents: A meta-analytic approach in assessing outcomes. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 11(1), 1–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Goldberg, A. F. (2010). Lesbian and gay parents and their children: Research on the family life cycle. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Green, R. J., Bettinger, M., & Zacks, E. (1996). Are lesbian couples fused and gay male couples disengaged? Questioning gender straightjackets. In J. Laird & R. J. Green (Eds.), Lesbians and gays in couples and families: A handbook for therapists (pp. 185–230). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  10. Harvey, R., & Stone Fish, L. (2015). Queer youth in family therapy. Family Process, 54, 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Iasenza, S. (2010). What is queer about sex? Expanding sexual frames in theory and practice. Family Process, 49, 91–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Julien, D., Chartrand, E., Simard, M. C., Bouthillier, D., & Begin, J. (2002). Conflict, social support and relationship quality: An observational study of heterosexual, gay male, and lesbian couples’ communication. Journal of Family Psychology, 17(3), 419–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Mock, S. E., & Cornelius, S. W. (2007). Profiles of interdependence: The retirement planning of married, cohabitating and lesbian couples. Sex Roles, 56, 793–800.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Otis, M. D., Rotosky, S. S., Riggle, E. D. B., & Hamrin, R. (2006). Stress and relationship quality in queer couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 23, 81–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Powell, L., & Neustifter, R. (2012). An updated social context for therapy with elder lesbian couples. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 24, 213–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Rich, A. (1980). Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 5, 631–660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ritter, K. Y., & Terndrup, A. I. (2002). Handbook of affirmative psychotherapy with lesbians and gay men. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  18. Schumm, W. R. (2016). A review and critique of research on same-sex parenting and adoption. Psychological Reports, 119(3), 641–760.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Stone Fish, L., & Harvey, R. (2005). Nurturing queer youth: Family therapy transformed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Syracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA
  2. 2.Southern Connecticut State UniversityNew HavenUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Mudita Rastogi
    • 1
  1. 1.Illinois School of Professional Psychology, Argosy UniversitySchaumburgUSA