About Desert Hope

May 3rd, 2016 by admin Categories: carousel, Uncategorized No Responses
About Desert Hope

Restoring the Soul  ●  Renewing the Mind  ●  Healing the Heart

….calling men and women to live out of their truest identities as the Beloved.

Desert Hope and Janelle Hallman MinistriesDesert Hope Ministries was initially formed in 2000 to provide a support base and covering for Janelle Hallman’s conferences, speaking engagements, resource development and missions outreaches. The name “Desert Hope” reflects the paradox of the human experience. We live in a fallen world of imperfection and suffering (the desert), yet serve an awesome God who loves and blesses us, giving us a life of hope.

“He will make the valley of trouble a door of hope.” Hosea 2:15

Desert Hope Ministries:

PURPOSE…..to extend God’s love, truth, and healing to people with hurts or other obstacles that hold them back from all that they were designed for.

GOAL…..to bring a fresh and relevant message of hope and experiential renewal through conferences, retreats, speaking, writing, and international missions.

VISION…..to see men and women live out of their inherent goodness and true identities in Christ, so as to be related in love as God loves.

Since its inception in 2000 as a non-profit 501(c) corporation, Desert Hope has successfully raised the funds and recruited hundreds of volunteers and support staff to launch numerous projects and accomplishments.

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Introducing The First Stage of Therapy with Women with Same-Sex Attraction: Securing the Foundation

March 22nd, 2012 by admin Categories: Uncategorized No Responses
Introducing The First Stage of Therapy with Women with Same-Sex Attraction: Securing the Foundation

from Clinical/Therapeutic Issues

Introducing The First Stage of Therapy with Women with Same-Sex Attraction: Securing the Foundation

Part 2 of a two-part series

By Janelle M. Hallman, MA, LPC

As a review, the first stage of therapy with women with same-sex attraction can be broken down into three separate therapeutic tasks:

Creating Safety – the Heart of the Helping Environment

Fundamental Therapeutic Processes:

Acceptance and Attunement

Client’s Task: Rest

Building Trust – the Heart of the Helper
Fundamental Therapeutic Processes:

Caring and Commitment

Client’s Task: Receive

Establishing and Maintaining a Secure

Attachment – the Heart of the Relationship
Fundamental Therapeutic Processes:

Empathy and the Here-and-Now

Client’s Task: “Become”
Part 1 in this series detailed the process of therapeutic acceptance and how it can further a woman’s sense of safety in a therapeutic or helping setting. Following is a look at the process of attunement and its significance in creating a safe holding environment for the women with whom we work.
Safety in Attunement

One client told me:

You were silent a lot. I knew you were listening. Your silence said, “Keep talking, I’m engaged with you.” You always looked at me, even when I had to say disgusting and shameful things. You even leaned forward. Those kinds of things comforted me. I knew you were with me, listening and you were not grossed out. — Ellen

Attunement is the nonverbal communication such as eye contact, facial expression, voice modulation, gestures, and timing and touch, [1] common to the relationship between a young child and mother, “in which both are sharing affect and focused attention on each other in a way such that the child’s enjoyable experiences are amplified and his/her stressful experiences are reduced and contained” [2] (emphasis mine).

I recently watched a video illustrating the power of parental attunement. A mom of a six-month-old baby was first instructed to remain attuned and engaged with her baby by entering into the baby’s emotional states. When baby laughed, mom laughed, affirming the baby’s joy and pleasure. If baby became agitated, mom showed her care through her facial expression and reassuring touch. When baby practiced cooing out words and gurgles, mom reflected her pride and encouragement through her eyes and mirroring gurgles. The baby was engaged and energized.

But then mom was instructed to break attunement by retaining a blank expression or turning her face away from her baby. The baby initially continued in their playful joyfulness. But when mom only offered a deadpan response, the baby became noticeably agitated. But mom was not there to reassure him. Mom looked away. The baby became more and more overwhelmed with his distress and growing insecurity. He tried and tried to engage mom by flailing his limbs and releasing audible whimpers, but to no avail. The baby eventually slumped in his little infant seat, lowered his eyes and attempted to find comfort by sucking on one of his small hands. His inner self had literally shut down.

Parental attunement is considered by attachment specialists to be one of the most influential processes in developing a core self within a child and maintaining a secure attachment with the child even into the child’s adulthood. [3] Without it, a child lives within relational isolation. The formation of their basic sense of self will be severely altered if not altogether arrested.

Unfortunately, many women as young children, like this baby, lacked consistent moments of attunement. [4] They missed the significant ongoing experience of being the object of another’s undivided, engaged, and regulating attention. They were, therefore, deprived of the environment in which to grow and develop their own feeling states and foundational core. Even now, they can be easily flooded with the shame of emptiness and fear of abandonment when they perceive they are being met with deaf ears or a disengaged heart. Therapeutic attunement is a powerfully healing and curative technique for these women. It can literally reestablish the environment in which a woman can continue her inner formation. A woman describes this experience:

I was shocked the first time I visited Beverly, my new counselor. She was so caring and compassionate. While she listened to me, tears came to her eyes. I knew she was right there with me. I knew I had someone who cared. This was huge for me! I cannot tell you the healing I experienced. I so needed somebody to just listen and care for me. It was a safe haven. — Joyce

In order for me to offer my clients full attunement or emotional communication, I have to open myself and allow my “state of mind” to be influenced by them. My goal is to align my inner state so I can experience, as close as possible, what my client is experiencing within her subjective or inner world in any given moment. [6] I then communicate my attunement through my eye contact or gestures.

If my client lowers her chin as she speaks, I lower mine and form a slight frown, as I attune to her dejected affect. As she glances out the window, I follow her glance, shifting my position as I attune to her discomfort and anxiety; I then recenter my gaze on her face. When she smiles, I take a deep breath and slowly release it as I feel her relief and joy. When she frowns, I tilt my head, showing a look of consternation as I remain with her in her sadness. As a woman timidly attempts to articulate her thoughts, I soften my speech. When she comes at me with force and anger, I place my feet on the floor, rise up in my chair and lean forward with strength and centeredness – and a slight smile. I am with her and I can handle her.

Attunement sends the nonverbal message that she is being understood in the deepest sense and is therefore not alone. You and she are in harmony, experiencing something together. And since you “with her,” she feels safe.

I remember you looking at me after I had shared. You were hugging me with your eyes. I had goose bumps – the hug felt real. Light and warmth were coming from your eyes, totally engulfing me. It was truly incredible. I felt something touch me down to the depths of my soul. — Wendy

The experience of attunement affords a woman the structure and support she needs to begin to connect with, regulate, and understand her own emotions, reactions, and behaviors. As she reflects on these experiences within herself, she may be able to acknowledge and therefore integrate previously ignored, denied or neglected aspects of her self. [7] “The job of psychotherapy then is not to deemphasize, defuse, or discharge these moments of oneness, but to encourage, heighten, and embrace them instead. Only then will we be helping patients in their recovery from their detached, alienated core.” [8] As another writer explains:

The affective experience of igniting an empathic connection between two separate beings is the magic of love, the holiness of spirituality, and the miracle of humanity. That two beings, separated by a lifetime of unique experiences, can “feel themselves into the other” is truly extraordinary. [9]

Containing and Regulating

Attunement is especially important in helping a woman to regulate and manage her anxiety. Just about every woman with whom I have worked, struggles with some form of anxiety. It may be familiar to her, something she has lived with for years, or it may be circumstantial, arising out of the newness or nature of the therapeutic work. It may serve as a “blanket” emotion used to cover other powerful emotions she has never felt safe or strong enough to face. Regardless of its source, I have learned it is extremely important that I handle her anxiety with concern and respect. As I deal with it in this way, she learns by example how to welcome, regulate, and process not only her anxiety, but also all of her feelings.

In the beginning stages of our work, I carefully attune to my clients, noticing any indication of agitation or fear. She may halter in speech or twist on a Kleenex. She may tap a foot or continuously shift positions. My goal is to intervene long before she begins to verbalize her discomfort or inability to proceed. I gently stop our conversation, saying,

“Alaina, you just told me a lot about your family. I know it was hard for you so I really appreciate the effort you are making. But I’d like us to take a break.” Pausing and then speaking slowly, “Why don’t you relax back into the couch and take a deep breath in… and then slowly let it out.” (Notice, I do not tell her she is anxious.) “Let all of the tension you are holding just flow out of you as you slowly exhale.” (I coach her and do the exercise with her, exaggerating my intake and release of air. She can basically mimic me. We both relax.)

“Okay,” I say, smiling and leaning forward. “You are doing great work. We will continue your story next week. For now though, I would like to hear what it was like for you to share all of that information with me.”

We then reflect on her experience of sharing. This helps her to integrate or “take in” the experience as a warm positive moment of connection and acceptance (in contrast to all of her disappointing moments of rejection or neglect).

Go Where She Goes

Many women with same-sex attraction have spent a lifetime figuring out what other people want or like so they can please them. Pleasing others is often one of the only ways a woman knows how to gain a sense of connection, acceptance, and value. I learned fairly early on, thanks to the honesty of my clients, that many of my clients tried to “read” me to determine what “I wanted or expected” so they could perform as good clients. I knew this could become extremely destructive to my client’s therapeutic process if I, for example, unconsciously needed her to cooperate with my treatment agenda for my ease or sense of security. I would be simply reinforcing a woman’s energy to please. Safety would be breached if she were to be used towards my end.

I have, therefore, made it an ongoing habit to continually check my hidden goals, agendas, or expectations I might have with respect to my clients. I also want to actively invite her to step out of this historic role of pleasing others by taking the initiative to discover what she wants or likes. Irving Yalom emphasizes “Above all, the therapist must be prepared to go wherever the patient goes, do all that is necessary to continue building trust and safety in the relationship” [10] (emphasis mine). Therapy, in this initial stage, must be thoroughly client centered.

I contemplated this concept at a recent baby shower. Many mothers and young children were present but one little girl caught my attention. Her eyes were as round as her face and her cheeks were even redder than her hair. She was about one and a half years old. She was dressed in a pink frilly dress with white lace anklets and paten leather shoes. She seemed oblivious to the “frill” as she walked, jumped and crawled in between the guests, up and down off of chairs and out into the garden. She delighted in exploring her world.

I wondered how her mom was handling being mom to a not so frilly active and adventurous little girl. At one point mom made a comment her daughter loved to play with cars and trucks. “Yep,” that didn’t surprise me. The little girl seemed developmentally healthy though, as she regularly ran back to mom through out her explorations. But there was one dynamic I couldn’t help noticing.

As she returned to mom, the little girl tried to speak. In response to her unintelligible sharing, the mom scooped her child up and plopped her on her lap. The youngster immediately tensed into a stiff statue until mom put her down. She then whined out a few more words (maybe sentences) and finally returned to her wide-open spaces.

I was glad to see the mother was attentive to her little girl’s need for affection and comfort. However, I couldn’t help thinking mom was nevertheless “missing” her daughter, similar to how an arrow misses the round bulls eye. The archer no doubt wanted to hit the target, but was lacking something in terms of technique or aim. I think this little girl wanted her mother to come and explore the world with her. I suspect she would have been delighted if mom had left her chair and walked the garden or followed her into the house. I think the little girl wanted her mom as an exploring companion. Perhaps she would have felt safer, not to mention known and loved.

We have the same opportunity to go where our clients go. We can stick to our “cushy chair” or preferred styles of therapy, or metaphorically get up and follow our client’s lead. Similar to our little redheaded friend above, the woman with same-sex attraction needs to know she is valuable and important enough to be followed. She longs to be pursued and known. She longs for connection that doesn’t require her to do all the work.

“I worked so hard to keep you engaged. I did my homework. I intensely pursued my issues. I wanted to please you. And I figured if I ever stopped working so hard you would leave or terminate. What I realize now is that you were always engaged and it wasn’t dependent on my performance or intensity. You always reflected back to me commitment and stability. When I finally realized you were committed to me, not just my process or work, I knew I was experiencing something completely new. It was absolutely pivotal! I can now say I shifted from a state of performance and intensity to warm and settled intimacy, for the first time in my life.” — A woman speaking to her counselor

In the beginning stages of therapy, if a woman would rather tell me about an incident at work than continue talking about her childhood story, I will wholeheartedly engage as I follow her lead. I stay with her (fully attuned) while she shares yet another aspect of whom she is. I will not force her to reenter her past until she is ready. Truth be known, she probably doesn’t care that much about addressing “past” issues, at least at this point in time. She is much more concerned about my ongoing presence and ability to stay with her, wherever she goes.

She’s Doing The Best She Can

To add to my client’s sense of safety, I also allow a woman to experience and express her emotions and visceral feelings in the best way she knows how. Feelings of any sort are often difficult for most of these women to identify, experience, let alone articulate with another person. I have learned to be patient and calm as a woman sorts through her inner turmoil and displays certain behaviors related to her discomfort.

Danielle, a 45-year-old woman who had embraced a lesbian identity for over 11 years, told me about an experience with a previous therapist. In their second or third session, Danielle felt such agitation she got up out of her chair and began to pace as she and her therapist continued to talk. [11] Danielle’s therapist eventually asked her to sit down because Danielle’s walking was distracting her. This therapist was evidently uncomfortable with staying present to Danielle’s agitation as manifested by her physical movement. As you might guess, Danielle never returned.

This therapist missed an incredible opportunity to enter into Danielle’s “disordered” world and simply be with her. A group of therapists in the 70s discovered this very essential need:

A human being cannot suddenly give up all the images, roles and symbols of his existence, for he would have to face the unknown with extreme fear. He needs someone who can take him into and through his disorderedness to the reality of his impulses, thoughts, and expressions. He needs to make contact with another human being (emphasis mine). [12]

Hughes claims if a child’s or client’s disordered behaviors habitually annoy parents and therapists, those behaviors will resist change. However, “if we truly accept these behaviors, they are much more likely to change.” [13] Following is an example of how I interacted with one of my clients after they had started pacing in my office:

“Are you feeling better, now that you have walked a little?” I asked in a warm and caring tone.

“Yes, yes I am.”

“Do you know what you were feeling when you first decided to get up and start walking?”

“I don’t really know.”

“Do you remember what we were talking about?”

“Nope.”

“Well I think I do. You briefly mentioned your mom died when you were four years old. It must be very hard for you to talk about.” I leaned forward and maintained eye contact with her as she continued to pace.

“I didn’t think it was hard to talk about.”

“What are you feeling right now?”

“I guess okay, but a bit bothered you’re asking me all these questions.”

Catching her increasing anxiety surrounding my probing questions, I decide to lighten up our interaction. “Would it still feel good to walk a little more?”

“Yeah, I’m all fidgety, I just can’t sit down.”

“That’s fine, take as much time as you need.” [14] I pause, relax and sit back in my chair. In a matter of fact manner, I continue with our original process, “So, you were giving me an overview of your life. I think we were at age five. Can you tell me what happened next?”

To relieve some of my client’s anxiety, I chose to bypass the subject of her mother’s death. There will be many more opportunities to explore this material. I also backed away from the intensity of our attunement, giving my client some needed “breathing room.” I allowed my client to simply “be” who she is at this point in time. I did not expect something different or more from her. However, I did lightly challenge her to connect with her inner impulse or emotion that first prompted her to pace. I wanted to affirm her emotion and need to physically shake out some tension. I wanted her to feel safe. Another woman explains this phenomenon:

I was up and down, all over the map. But my counselor was always the same – consistent. My emotional roller coaster didn’t change her and she stayed with me. That was amazing to me. — Sandy

I resonate with Mother Teresa’s philosophy that it is not so important what we do for the poor and lonely, but that we simply be with them in the midst of their suffering. This tenet applies well to our work with these women. It is the essence of love.

When We “Miss” Her

Once attuned, my clients can be quite sensitive to an emotional shift on my part. Even with the best of intentions, I do fail in my attunement skills. Thankfully, the positive and negative impact of our personhood and behaviors on our client is an essential part of the “realness” they must experience, navigate, process, and integrate into their framework for healthy human intimacy.

For example, I have had many clients catch me as my mind has wandered to what I was going to eat for dinner or what I needed to pick up at the grocery store. They have not hesitated in asking,

“Hey Janelle, are you with me?”

I am honest and admit, “No I’m not. I’m sorry. I was drifting there for a minute. Thanks for calling me back. By the way, it’s not your fault I was daydreaming. It was rude for me to leave you. But I’m back. Thanks for being patient with me.”

I might then pursue the feelings that emerged as they sensed me “leave the room,” or simply proceed with our current content or process. It depends on my assessment of my client’s anxiety as a result of my “abandonment” and their ability to proceed. Sometimes I simply “miss” my client. Once, during an obviously difficult moment for a client, I offered reassurance of my presence and care by sliding my chair a bit closer and leaning forward. She continued to speak. As I observed an increase in her anxiety, I assumed it was related to the content of her sharing. Assuming I was accurately attuned, I reflected her strained facial expression and offered empathy, commenting, “It’s hard to talk about this. I can feel your nervousness and anxiety.” My client abruptly reacted by sitting straight up and then pushing herself back into the couch. Her eyes were bright and large as she announced, “Janelle, you are making me nervous. I’m fine with talking about this, but you are getting too close!” Thankfully, her articulation allowed us to quickly repair our attunement and reestablish safety by creating a bit more distance.

Dr. Daniel Siegel notes, “Unless repair of these disruptions in attunement is undertaken, toxic sense of shame and humiliation can become serious blocks to interpersonal communication.” [15, 16] This is painfully true with my clients. Because their core self is not yet developed and precariously unstable, a breach in attunement with me through my dissociation or misunderstanding, can catapult a woman back into her inner dark hole of despair and heart-wrenching shame of non-existence and worthlessness. A dread of annihilation may surface, overpowering her ability to articulate all that is taking place within her. The best she can do at the time may be to withdraw or shut down.

To repair this level of rupture, I must attune to her current state of emotion, rely on empathy, and be willing to own my failure if need be. To reengage in our original process, my client will have to be willing to “reconnect.” If she is unable or unwilling to remain open so that I can realign with her former inner feeling state, I affirm and respect her decision. I realize her safety has been breached and mistrust ignited. Hopefully, my ongoing patience and compassion will eventually reestablish safety and future attunement opportunities.

When She Wants To Be “Missed”

Many women might unknowingly resist against the warm feeling of safety and comfort often associated with attunement. She fears if she relaxes and simply enjoys the experience of togetherness and care, her guards or defenses may fall and it may still be too risky to drop her defenses. She is still not certain she can fully trust. She does not want to open her heart only to be hurt or disappointed “once again.” Additionally, she may not be ready to feel other emotions that could potentially surface if she relaxes and drops her defenses. It is not uncommon then, for some women to unconsciously attempt to sabotage the emotional connection with her therapist as soon as a sense of safety or trust begin to develop.

Many a time I have relaxed with a client, only to be abruptly startled by a sarcastic or mocking response to my last heart-felt remark. The sarcasm immediately breaks the felt warmth and closeness in the room. I have learned to never interpret these defensive maneuvers as personal or react with frustration or harsh confrontation. Indeed, my client’s defenses provide an excellent opportunity for me to readjust my attunement and empathy to her fear and insecurity. I go where she goes and allow her the freedom to relate and express herself in the best way she knows how. When a woman finally makes a choice to allow herself, perhaps for the first time in her life, to feel safe, to relax, and to begin to trust, you can be assured that you are both on holy ground.

End Notes

1. Hughes (2004) lists these constructs within the context of attachment therapy with children involving parents and a possible team of therapists. Touch can be executed safely and responsibly in this type of setting. Touch should never be a presumed part of therapy with women with same-sex attraction.

2. Hughes (2004, p. 1).

3. Ibid.

4. It is an infant’s experience of mother’s attunement and affectual regulation and the infant’s own inner feelings or feeling states that form the primitive core of the self. Masterson (1985, p. 24). In her work with women with same-sex attraction, Dr. Elaine Siegel (1988) notes, “because their mothers appeared not to love them and produced massive failures of empathy, my patients had no way to delineate a stable self” (p. 20, emphasis mine). This disruption or detachment from mother can lead to the overall personality development of what has been called “the empty core.” Walant (1995, p. 10).

5. Siegel (1999, p. 69).

6. Siegel (1999).

7. Hughes (1997); Walant (1995).

8. Walant (1995, p. 122).

9. Walant (1995, p. 103).

10. Yalom (2002, p. 34-35).

11. Often the body is used to relieve or process internal emotions and conflicts. This can be especially true of women with samesex attraction. Siegel (1988) notes “Often this use of bodily communication made for tense, restless sessions. The analysands could find no comfort, or even a comforting and comfortable position on the couch” (p. 40-41). Many of my clients have paced, sat on the floor, laid on the couch, asked to sit in my chair, covered themselves with pillows, thrown pillows, abruptly stood to their feet, etc. When appropriate, the therapist can invite the woman to reflect or even exaggerate their actions to determine their meaning.

12. Karle, Woldenberg, & Hart (1976, p. 84-85).

13. Hughes (2004, p. 10).

14. Siegel asserts that attunement includes the “capacity to read the signals (often nonverbal) that indicate the need for engagement or disengagement,” disengagement being defined as a person’s normal need to be alone and not in alignment with another (1999, p. 70).

15/16. Siegel (1999, p. 25)
References

Hughes, D. (1997). Facilitating developmental attachment: The road to emotional recovery and behavioral change in foster and adopted children. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson, Inc.

Hughes, D. (2004). Attachment focused therapy for children, adolescents and families. Booklet from R. Cassidy Seminars, Santa Rosa, California.

Masterson, J. (1985) The real self: A developmental, self, and object relations approach. New York: Brunner/Mazel Publishers.

Siegel, D. (1999). The developing mind: Toward a neurobiology of interpersonal experience. New York: The Guilford Press.

Siegel, E. (1988). Female homosexuality: Choice without volition. Hillsdale, New Jersey: The Analytic Press.

Walant, K.B. (1995). Creating the capacity for attachment: Treating addictions and the alienated self. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson, Inc.

 


Janelle Hallman is a licensed professional counselor specializing in treating women who are in conflict about same-sex attractions and emotional dependencies. She is an adjunct professor at Denver Seminary and a former adjunct professor at Colorado Christian University. She is also the founder and director of Desert Hope Ministries, a non-profit organization providing conferences focused on the Biblical perspective of human sexuality. Janelle currently resides in Arvada, Colorado with her husband and 17-year-old daughter.

Clinical Issues Common to Women in Conflict with Same-Sex Attraction

March 22nd, 2012 by admin Categories: Uncategorized No Responses
Clinical Issues Common to Women in Conflict with Same-Sex Attraction

Clinical Issues Common to Women in Conflict with Same-Sex Attraction

© 2002, Janelle Hallman

 

Introduction

The lesbian condition is complex in its origin and very diverse in its expression.  The elements of a woman’s same-sex attraction vary in degree and intensity, as do the temperaments and personality types of the women.  Therefore, in my work with women with same-sex attraction, I first and foremost want to meet and interact with the unique individual sitting in front of me.  My clients are intelligent and intuitive and can tell if I am truly “seeing” them or trying to squeeze them into a box or theory.  I hold my models and theories loosely so I can meet the true person.  I also want to encounter the “whole” woman, not just her lesbianism.  I want to give her the message that she is more than her lesbian struggle.  I want her to know that she is important, and I am not sitting with her simply because she wants aspects of her sexual identity and behaviors “changed” or “fixed.”

 

As a therapist, I want to respect her human dignity.  Many of my clients are not sure they want to change any aspects of their homosexuality. The emotional aspect of their struggle seems to reach down into the very core of their being. It is often a long process for a woman to just define her sexuality, let alone to begin to disidentify with it.  Over six years ago, about two years into my practice, I decided to make a commitment to myself and to my clients that I would work with them regardless of where they are at in their decision to resolve the lesbian conflict.  I agreed that I would not place demands or expectations on them with respect to their sexual struggle that would, in any way, condition or impede our ongoing work together.  In other words, I have decided to be committed to them, wherever their journey leads, and to remain committed for the long haul.  The “long haul” seems to be an average of 4-5 years of weekly to bimonthly appointments.

 

While there is much variation amongst lesbian women, there are still many notable themes that consistently emerge in their stories and struggles.  I would like to highlight a few of those here.

 

Roots of Lesbianism

In broad sweeping terms, the common themes in the histories of women with same-sex attraction include:

  • A strained, detached or disrupted bond or attachment with mother without an available mother substitute, resulting in a need for secure attachment.
  • A lack of respect and/or protection from men, often in the form of sexual abuse or rigid gender roles, resulting in a fear or hatred of men.
  • Few, if any, close girlhood friendships, resulting in a need for belonging and fun.
  • A sense of emptiness and lostness in lieu of a full and rich sense of self and identity as a feminine being, resulting in a need for a self and gender identity.

 

While the presence of these elements is not an absolute predictor or determinant of the lesbian struggle, they are nevertheless the most common and frequently reported facets of the lesbian story.  These elements are generally sequential in order of development or experience, can be causal or predisposing for the subsequent element and are therefore interrelated.  An adult woman actually cycles in and out of these elements and related needs as she acts out the lesbian bond in an attempt to repair the inherent dilemmas.  Unfortunately, this “acting out” can actually intensify these predisposing conditions of lesbianism.

 

I would also like to suggest that there are some common innate characteristics shared by lesbian women.  These would include an above average intelligence, strong sensitivity to hypocrisy and injustice, athleticism, natural draw to more stereotypically masculine interests, capacity to feel deeply and passionately.  It is the combination of the above  environmental factors and inherent characteristics that may eventually lead to a lesbian struggle.

 

Developmental Issues

To highlight the specific developmental issues that are present in most lesbian struggles, I wanted to share the research findings from an unpublished doctoral dissertation by Dr. Sheryl Brickner Camallieri.  Dr. Camallieri used an instrument called the Measures of Psychosocial Development (MPD) to assess the developmental differences between 54 allegedly heterosexual and 54 allegedly homosexual women.  The MPD measures the developmental resolution based on Erik Erikson’s model of psychosocial development.  The eight stages are listed below.

 

While Dr. Camallieri admits that the scope of her research does not establish the cause of the differences (which could be developmental or attributed to the social and political climate regarding lesbianism), “Of the 19 scales analyzed, six of the scales indicated a significant difference in the scores between the two groups of women” (p. 3).  The heterosexual women scored significantly higher on the favorable resolution scales of Trust, Intimacy and Generativity (marked in squares below).  The lesbian women scored significantly higher on the negative resolution of Identity Confusion and Stagnation and Total Negative Resolution (circled below).

Erickson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development

Trust

 

 

  •                                     vs.                    Mistrust

 

  • Autonomy                   vs.                    Shame and Doubt

 

  • Initiative                      vs.                    Guilt

 

  • Industry                      vs.                    Inferiority

 

  • Identity                       vs.                    Identity confusion

Intimacy

 

 

  •                                     vs.                    Isolation

 

  • Generativity

    vs.                    Stagnation

 

  • Ego Integrity               vs.                    Despair

 

  • Overall Positive Resolution                Overall Negative Resolution

 

 

I have since given this assessment to over 25 of my lesbian clients and continue to see extremely high identity confusion and stagnation scores as well as low trust and high mistrust scores.  Additionally, there is another pattern that has emerged in my client’s testing:  relative to their other scores, the lesbian woman scores significantly high in the positive resolution of Initiative and/or Industry (also circled above).  If we were to just consider the results of the MPD based on suggested methods of interpretation, we would conclude that these are women who feel very insecure and unsafe in their world; are unsure of others and doubt that anything good will last.  They have used performance, competence and assertiveness in a compensatory fashion, probably to gain a sense of control, value and purpose.  They hold no inherent value or clear identity and therefore have little capacity or motivation to sacrificially give to others.  Emotionally, they remain in a depressed state of self-absorption.

 

As you might guess, these developmental deficits and compensations coincide almost perfectly with the developmental themes in a lesbian’s history.

 

Developmental Roots                                                            Developmental Themes

 

A strained, detached or disrupted bond                                 Mistrust

or attachment with mother without     

an available mother substitute, resulting

in a need for secure attachment.

 

A lack of respect and/or protection from                                Initiative/Industry –

men, often in the form of sexual abuse                                   assuming a toughened or

or rigid gender roles, resulting in a                                         masculinized stance towards

fear or hatred of men.                                                          life and survival.

 

Few if any close girlhood friendships,                                    Identity Confusion (solid

resulting in a need for belonging and fun.                           ified during adolescence)

 

A sense of emptiness and lostness in lieu                               Stagnation

of a full and rich sense of self and identity

as a feminine being, resulting in a need

for a self and gender identity.

 

Specific treatment options need to take into consideration these developmental needs.  Ultimately, treatment should start with the beginning issue of trust, move through the subsequent developmental issues with a major emphasis on identity formation and conclude when the woman is free to give, love and contribute to the betterment of the world.

 

Contrasts Between the Masculine and Feminine

I would now like to offer some framework around the differences between the male and female developmental journey in order to highlight the nuances of the lesbian struggle.  I hope to also provide a framework for understanding the essence of the true masculine and feminine.  It is essential to have some framework such as this if we are to help gender-confused clients.

Attachment and Identification

Boys and girls follow different developmental paths in terms of attachment and identification.  Both boys and girls are to be initially attached to mom at birth.  To develop healthily, a boy must move, strive and initiate to successfully separate from mom and ultimately attach and identify with dad.  Homosexuality often becomes a serious possibility when this step or process is frustrated or altogether missing for the boy.  A girl on the other hand is supposed to remain andrest, so to speak, in an experience of ongoing or continuous connection.  Figuratively speaking, she warmly rests secure at home with mom, to eventually receive dad who is to gently move towards her to offer his love, affirmation and protection.

Mom

                                                Boy                             Girl

 

Dad

 

Same-sex attraction may emerge when this needed ongoing attachment with mom is absent, insufficient or undesirable.  (Female same-sex attraction may also emerge if dad’s movement is non-existent, abusive, or becomes masculinizing of his daughter.)

 

If for the girl, her initial attachment to mom is perceived to be weakened or broken, a type of homelessness is created for the girl that even the homosexual boy does not experience.  The girl is essentially stripped of her most fundamental tether in the universe.  There may be no greater trauma in a girl’s life developmentally than one that interferes with her primal relationship with mom.  Mom is not only the first bond and attachment for a little baby girl, but is the relational object with whom this little girl will form her first sense of self and eventually rely on to complete her identification process as a female.

 

Besides internalizing the insecurity that a break in this foundational relationship creates, the girl will activate or move in an effort to find the attachment for which she was designed and so desperately needs.  She begins to follow the developmental path of a male, that is, moving, striving and initiating. Unfortunately, trust in others and her self is not adequately formed to support secure and meaningful connection or relatedness (this is the mistrust that the MPD measures). She is filled with a sense of aloneness and need that further fuels her movement and initiation to resolve her dilemma (herein lies the high initiative and industry scores on the MPD).  Simply put, this emotional movement disrupts her normal growth and development and identification as a feminine being (identity confusion), not to mention the false paths such movement will uncover.  Let me add another picture of gender differences.

 

Erikson Research on Preadolescent Play Constructions

In the 1940’s Erik Erikson conducted research at Berkeley on preadolescent play constructions. While he wasn’t specifically addressing gender differences in his study, Erikson was struck by the fact that when given a set of blocks, little boys and girls built different constructions of space.

 

The boys’ construction looked something like the one below.  The construction would also include such things as cars among the buildings and people atop the buildings.  As one can see, boys seem to be naturally preoccupied with the outer world, nature, objects and things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The girls’ constructions tended to look like the picture below.  The people sat close together and faced the inside of the room.  Girls seem to be naturally preoccupied with the inner world of human relatedness, communication and connection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Theological Perspective

Theologically, the creation story of Adam and Eve parallels Erik Erikson’s findings and adds some important notions about the true masculine and feminine.  First, Adam and Eve were created equal in terms of dignity, value, call and purpose.  (To work with a lesbian successfully, you must truly believe and hold to this conviction.)  They were to both Fill and Multiply – the realm of human relationship and Rule and Subdue – the realm of nature, animals and the earth (found in Genesis 1:27, New International Version).  Second, they were created differently.  Adam was created from the ground, was placed in the garden with the plants and animals and became very busy working, moving, initiating, ruling and subduing.  Eve, on the other hand, was the only created being made from another living being.  Her primal essence is one of human relatedness.  She was immediately placed in front of Adam and became busy relating—being known and loved.  Both Adam and Eve were needed to complete God’s purposes for humanity, but it seems that their very origins and initial experiences point to difference and uniqueness.

 

True Femininity and the Inner World of Connectedness

Another way to look at these differences is seen in the complementary circles below.  Perhaps the masculine (I believe gender is not merely a construct of socialization or learning processes but a fundamental and inherent aspect of our humanity) has a greater exterior strength of movement, initiation and courage to face and deal with the outer world but with an inner core of tenderness and compassion for human relatedness.  It is this exterior strength, movement and confidence that homosexual men seemingly lack or struggle discovering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Male                            Female

 

Perhaps the true feminine means having an exterior that is inviting, restful and receiving with an inner core of solidness and strength of being and courage to face the complexities of another soul and the requirements of ongoing intimacy.  Lisa Beamer (the wife of Todd Beamer who helped guide United Flight 93 away from human targets) is a great example of a woman with an inviting, restful exterior and a solid inner core.  She was sad, but not crushed as she faced the tragedy of losing her husband.  She was not fragile, wispy, whiney, needy, overly dependent but solid, strong, articulate, lovely.

 

The true feminine is not weak, but boasts of the strength, courage and power to be – to be present and connected with her own heart, emotions and thoughts and with another, even in the most difficult or tragic time.  The true feminine can weather loneliness.  Lisa can stand in the face of her husband’s death because she has her self and many other vital relationships.

 

My clients often lack or struggle discovering and accepting both of these aspects as women.  They are toughened and defended on the outside and sense emptiness and desperation on the inside.  Their toughness defies their inner need and their inner need, which so often is expressed in terms of dependencies, speaks to the depth of their gender brokenness.  They are not living out of the strength of the true feminine. Many of my clients feel and believe they are not women. This is not a symptom of a transgender struggle but is an indication of their alienation from their inherent design as a feminine being.

 

Emotional Dependency

To briefly summarize, healthy development for a girl first requires that she rests and remains in the warm and secure home of mother so that she can form and develop an inner home for herself  – out of which she will live, express her strength and power, create, relate, connect, nurture, bring forth life, etc.  Without this inner sense of home or a secure and solid sense of self and feminine identity, she will not have the capacity to enter into healthy intimacy.  Yet she will live with a deep belief that she cannot be alone.  Therefore, she is unconsciously driven or on the move to find a “home” or true “self” outside of her self.

 

This is the drive behind an emotionally dependent relationship.  When another woman comes along that triggers a sense of familiarity or presents herself to be a strong and competent woman (unlike mom perhaps), the lesbian literally wants to lose herself in this woman, hoping to find rest, receive the care and nurture she craves and to finally appropriate, albeit vicariously, an identity.  Emotional dependency is not an inordinate love but is the consequence of a woman’s deep fear of and inability to sustain intimacy.  The partner is not loved or known for who they truly are.  It is the sense or illusion of warm connection or secure attachment that is desired.  Sadly, the “emotional dependency,” if sustained, will prevent a woman from any substantial healing or change.  A woman does not need to lose herself (in another woman or man) but in fact, needs to find her true self and this goal should be the primary focus of therapy with the lesbian client.

Personality Disorders and Traits

It is this missing core and the accompanying restlessness that I believe leads to conflicts and struggles within the lesbian woman that qualify as full blown personality disorders and traits.  The most common configurations I encounter in my practice generally include a histrionic profile associated no doubt with her deep fear of abandonment and isolation.  The other configuration involves a depressed and/or dependent disorder with associated self defeating, avoidant and borderline disorders or traits.  Depressed – empty, dejected, pessimistic, worthless and full of self and other centered contempt, dependent – needy to the point of desperate yet fearful of rejection, self defeating – negative, self pitying and hostile, and avoidant – defended and isolated.

 

Effective Therapy for the Lesbian Client

Work with a woman in conflict with her same-sex feelings and behaviors will require a long-term commitment which will be tasking and draining but also rewarding if the client is highly motivated to change.  The individual characterological profile must be considered and appropriately handled in therapy.  Every woman you see will be unique in this regard.  The general goal of therapy is to establish trust (this may be the first experience of trust for many clients) so that the client can accomplish the deep inner formation work, or as quoted by Elaine Siegel, “attainment of firmer inner structures,” (Female Homosexuality: choice without volition, Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press (1988)).

 

The woman must come into her own.  She must be able to embrace the breadth of her identity and humanity, her strengths and weaknesses, her glory and her shortcomings, her dreams, hopes and visions as well as her disappointments and losses.  This process will involve among other things, extensive work in identifying, challenging and restructuring the woman’s belief system regarding the world, God, others and herself.  Lesbianism is supported by a complex system of distorted, negative and self-defeating beliefs.  This system must be rebuilt.  The client’s defensive maneuvering and unhealthy attachments with women need to be addressed while the woman is being challenged to take risks with new and healthier relationships.  Eventually she will need to deal with her opposite sex contempt and ambivalence and appropriate her own individual style of feminine relating.

 

In conclusion, I believe that the most effective component of therapy with a female homosexual is the quality of the attachment and therapeutic relationship formed between female counselor and client.  While there are many techniques that can be used to access deep unconscious conflicts and to teach cognitive truths and principles of healthy living and relationship, it is the consistency, faithfulness, caring and loving attitude of the counselor that begins to finally establish a solid center of trust and inner core or sense of being in the women we work with.  It is as I love, accept and affirm my client that she can begin to unfold and continue to develop as a female being.  In essence, I provide the home in which she can rest and simply become.

 

Meet Janelle Hallman

September 7th, 2011 by admin Categories: Uncategorized No Responses
Meet Janelle Hallman

Janelle Hallman MA LPC - Counselor - Lesbianism and ChristianityAlthough Janelle has become an internationally recognized expert in the area of female homosexuality and emotional dependency, she works with a variety of men and women seeking greater wholeness in their lives. She also serves as the Clinical Director of Janelle Hallman & Associates, a counseling clinic providing individual, family, couples and group therapy for adolescents and adults. Janelle provides professional consulting to other counselors and clergy on homosexuality. She is an educator, writer and dynamic speaker on issues related to the human condition, redemption, healing and wholeness, in general. Her passion is to share realities about God, life and the human experience in a way that speaks to some of the deepest needs of broken and hurting people.

Professional Services

January 14th, 2011 by admin Categories: Uncategorized No Responses
Professional Services

Retreats

Healing a Mother’s HeartHealing a Mothers Heart Retreat for Mothers of Lesbian Daughters
Healing a Mother’s Heart is an intensive three-day small group experience with other mothers (up to 10) of daughters with same-sex attraction. Because of Janelle’s extensive experience with these women, she is uniquely positioned to help mothers (and fathers) understand the nature of their daughter’s issues as well as heal or strengthen their relationship with their daughter.


Healing a Parent’s Heart

Healing a Parents Heart Retreat with Janelle Hallman and Staff
Healing a Parent’s Heart is an intensive three-day small group experience with other parents (up to 15 couples) of children with same-sex attraction. Because of Janelle’s extensive experience with these women, she is uniquely positioned to help parents understand the nature of their child’s issues as well as heal or strengthen their relationship with their daughter.


Speaking and Conference Ministry
Janelle is a speaker and teacher with a global resume. Visit her Speaking and Missions page to find out more about Janelle’s topics and schedule. Highlights include:


Restoring the Glory Conference
Restoring the Glory Conference with Janelle HallmanRestoring the Glory is a conference produced, promoted and sponsored by Desert Hope Ministries. The purpose of the conference is to provide a dynamic message of God’s truth surrounding our inherent glory as image bearers, real relationships, authentic sexuality, and meaningful intimacy. Janelle is the Coordinating Director and main speaker for this event.

Products by Janelle Hallman

Janelle’s Book
Perhaps one of Desert Hope’s most amazing feats, is the full funding and support of Janelle’s long-term writing project. She started over five years ago on a manuscript for counselors on female homosexuality.

After years of interviewing, researching, writing and re-writing, the book, The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction: A Comprehensive Counseling Resource (2008, InterVarsity Press) is finally here. It was an amazing miracle to see God’s hand in providing the funding and just the right people to influence and support her along the way. It was truly a team effort made up of givers, prayers, sharers, researchers, typers, proofreaders, editors, encouragers, supporters and lovers! While it has gained the support and interest of many, the book is primarily intended for mental health professionals and educators. However, the book is reader-friendly and can also serve as an indispensable guide for clergy, lay counselors, mentors, friends and especially family members of women with same-sex attraction. And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, this book is dedicated to and for the women who are themselves struggling or looking for greater understanding into their lives. To order this ground-breaking book visit Desert Hope’s store.


Audio and Video Resources

Janelle Hallman Audio and Video Over the years, Desert Hope as produced, packaged and marketed many of Janelle’s lectures. These valuable resources are have made available to professional therapists, lay counselors, parents of homosexual daughters, women who struggle with female homosexuality, and men and women in general seeking to understand and live within God’s design for authentic sexuality and real relationships. They are available for purchase in Desert Hope’s store.


How you can Support the Ministry of Desert Hope and
Janelle Hallman

Support Janelle by partnering in prayer or donating to Desert Hope Ministry.

Retreats for Parents with Gay-Identified Children

January 14th, 2011 by admin Categories: Uncategorized No Responses
Retreats for Parents with Gay-Identified Children

Janelle Hallman speaks in a variety of venues from conference keynotes to higher education classroom settings. Here are some of her upcoming events. You can also purchase audio of her teachings in the Desert Hope Store.

Learn More About Retreats

January, 2011

A Psychological and Theological Perspective on Homosexuality
Description: A two week seminary class co-taught by Janelle Hallman and Elodie Emig.Class can be audited by non-students.
Location: Denver Seminary, Littleton, CO
Contact: Denver Seminary   www.denverseminary.edu
Phone: 1.800.922.3040

April 9, 2011

Woman Come Forth
Description: An all-day gathering of God’s daughters. Through professional dancers, speakers, musicians and artists, Woman Come Forth will take you through an interactive, imaginative encounter with the Lazarus Story for your life.
Location: Temple Events Center, Denver, Colorado
Contact: Woman Come Forth

July 22-24, 2011 (Fri.-Sun. Afternoon)

Healing a Parent’s Heart

Description: A three-day group experience for parents of gay-identified sons and daughters. This is NOT a parent-child retreat, but a small group experience for parents.
Location: Janelle’s office, Westminster, Colorado
Contact:Gretchen, in Janelle’s Office –
Phone: 303.429.2100

August 19-21, 2011 (Fri.-Sun. Afternoon)

Healing a Mother’s Heart – Level II

Description: A three-day group experience for mothers of lesbian daughters who have previously attended either a Healing a Mother’s Heart or a Healing a Parent’s Heart Retreat. This is NOT a mother-daughter retreat, but a small group experience for mothers.
Location: Janelle’s office, Westminster, Colorado
Contact: Gretchen, in Janelle’s Office –
Phone: 303.429.2100

November 4-6, 2011 (Fri.-Sun. Afternoon)

Healing a Mother’s Heart – Level I

Description: A three-day group experience for mothers of lesbian daughters. This is NOT a mother-daughter retreat, but a small group experience for mothers.
Location: Janelle’s office, Westminster, Colorado
Contact: Gretchen, in Janelle’s Office –
Phone: 303.429.2100

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January 7th, 2011 by admin Categories: Uncategorized No Responses
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