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Lifting the veil : experiences of gay men in a therapy group

  • Journal Title: South African Journal of Psychology
  • Volume: Volume 37
  • Issue:  Issue 2
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Pages: 284  - 306
  • Authors:  Juan A. Nel;  Eileen Rich;  Kevin D. Joubert;
  • ISSN: 00812463
  • Abstract:  Group psychotherapy remains an under-utilised treatment modality in South Africa. Similarly, there is paucity of local research on sexual orientation and psychological well-being. This article attempts to make sense of the potential contribution of therapy groups not only to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) sector, but also to South African society more generally. Informed by a longitudinalstudy conducted between 1995 and 2003, this article evaluates whether a Gauteng-based therapy group that has been in existence since 1995 indeed meets the needs of its predominantly gay male members, has an impact on their well-being, and can be considered effective in empowering members to deal with various issues in their lives. The study employed a triangulation approach and combined both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Results indicate that the therapy group, hosted under the auspices of the non-profit organisation, OUT LGBT Well-being, received high positive ratings from a purposive sample of 40 members who previously participated in the group. This study confirmed earlier findings that indicated that, due to marginalisation and the threat of discrimination, many gay individuals are prone to experiencing perceived rejection by society, self-devaluation, identity confusion, hiddenness and isolation, excessive self-reliance, lack of trust, control issues, and difficulties in familial interactions. Positive changes reported by participants as a result of their therapy group experience include increased self-acceptance and self-confidence, aheightened sense of identity, increased tolerance in relation to others, increased honesty including disclosure of sexual orientation, and social integration.
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