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Nov 8, 2021

Hi everyone!

This podcast offers specific help to LGBTQ individuals who are under attack from loved ones who might judge them and criticize their sexual orientation or gender identity. Plus, we all get slammed at times by people who judge us for all sorts of reasons, which can be immensely painful, so most of today’s discussion will apply to people more broadly.

I recently received a great email from Heather Donnenwirth, a therapist in Ohio who works with LGBTQ individuals. She mentioned that some of her patients struggle with how to respond to critical or judgmental statements from loved ones, including parents, and provided several examples:

  • "Being Gay is wrong/a sin"
  • "If someone doesn't know if they are a man or woman, then something is messed up in their head."
  • "We are worried that you are going to go to Hell for your lifestyle."
  • "We don't want your partner at our house, and we don't want to see any displays of affection."

Heather wanted to know how one might use the Five Secrets of Effective Communication to respond to these kinds of criticisms.

I invited her to join us in the podcast, and she wrote:

I was excited about this topic. Thanks so much for including me. David's work has improved my life in so many ways and Rhonda's Wednesday TEAM training group has been a wonderful way to practice my TEAM skills and improve the kind of care I can offer patients. I appreciate and admire you both so much!! Also, I can't wait to meet Kyle!!

I also invited the brilliant and wonderful Kyle Jones to join us. Kyle is a TEAM therapist who joined my training group in 2016 before ever seeing a patient! He is completing his PhD in clinical psychology at Palo Alto University and his dissertation research focuses on psychologists who provide mental health treatment to LGBTQ people. Kyle joined us in 2018 for a FB Live TV program on dating and flirting strategies ( and in 2019 for Podcast 151 on treating LBBTQ individuals with TEAM (

During today’s podcast, we used the excellent statements that Heather provided in role-playing exercises with the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. We used the Intimacy Drill that I developed, which is by far the best way to master the Five Secrets.

We also discussed the issue of the inner dialogue that always accompanies the outer dialogue with the person you’re in conflict with. If you get anxious, depressed, and angry when criticized, it will be much more difficult to use the Five Secrets skillfully, because you may feel defensive and resentful and inadequate. So some work with the Daily Mood Log may also be invaluable before trying to use the Five Secrets.

Finally, we discussed the question of “Outcome Resistance.” This means asking yourself if you WANT to develop a more loving relationship with a loved one who is being highly critical of you because of your sexual orientation, or for any other reason. We decided it is perfectly acceptable to decide NOT to try to develop a more loving relationship, if that feels better to you. It may even be in your best interest or help keep you safe from harm if you’re an LGBTQ person facing discrimination and persecution because of your sexual orientation or gender identity.

I explained my own anger toward my father who was a successful Lutheran minister. However, when he retired from his ministry at the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Phoenix, Arizona, he began working with gay individuals at the Arizona State University, trying to convert them to a heterosexual orientation. This was profoundly disturbing to me, I felt a great deal of shame and anger, and it ultimately led to a sad rupture of our relationship.

Rhonda, Heather, Kyle and David