In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Clinical Social Work Practice with Adult Lesbians

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Journals
  • Types of Practice
  • Specific Areas of Practice
  • Group Work
  • Values and Ethics
  • Coming Out and Making Disclosures
  • Racial and Ethnic Lesbians
  • Midlife and Older Lesbians
  • Families
  • Couples
  • Sexuality
  • Helping with Internalized Heterosexism

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Social Work Clinical Social Work Practice with Adult Lesbians
Ski Hunter
  • LAST REVIEWED: 14 December 2009
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0099


Lesbians were not notable in the United States until the term “lesbian” became widely used in the 19th and 20th centuries. The source of the term is not known, but it probably came from the name of the home of Sappho, who lived on the Greek island of Lesbos around 600 BCE. This entry reflects a more current time and identifies resources focused on clinical interventions with lesbians (published between 1990 and 2008). Several online bibliographies are included that have older references on interventions. Most materials are selected from the research in social work and psychology. Lesbians are significantly more likely to seek a mental health professional than are heterosexual women. Also, more lesbian couples than gay couples seek professional help. Nevertheless, considerable materials also include gay persons and sometimes bisexual and transgender persons. Heterosexual persons are also sometimes included for comparison purposes.

Introductory Works

Until recently, research on lesbians focused on the origins of this sexual orientation, diagnoses, and pathology. Beginning in about 1970, the research turned to the lives of lesbians across different areas, such as coming out, becoming a partner, and having children. Interventions in these and other areas also developed. Several books cover both the lives of lesbians and interventions and were written for students and practitioners in helping professions. Appleby and Anastas 1998 provides an overview of many topics, including interventions. Hunter and Hickerson 2003 also provides an overview of many topics and, in addition, interventions.

  • Appleby, George Alan, and Jeane W. Anastas. 1998. Not just a passing phase: Social work with gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

    Covers identities, culture, community, and life transitions. Interventions focus on substance abuse, intimate violence, and persons with HIV/AIDS.

  • Hunter, Ski, and Jane C. Hickerson. 2003. Affirmative practice: Understanding lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers.

    Addresses numerous topics on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. Three parts of the book focus on practice, including historical changes; requirements for practitioners and agencies; practice with individuals, couples, and families; and institutions, communities, and the macro-cultural level. Practice with youths, midlife, and older persons is also included.

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