Family Vs. “Family”: Tip #3 for the Upcoming Holidays

Alright, so this is the 2nd to the last tip for the upcoming holiday season for my LGBT family. Tip #1 was about detailing your very best hopes for the season ahead, & tip #2 was about recognizing both past and current progress. So, once you’ve done those things here’s the next step you can take.

Tip #3. Communicate Your Hopes:

Going back to that same couple I worked with last year, after they shared their combined vision of their preferred future, and recognized that they are already taking some steps toward it, I asked them what they thought the next small step might be.  Both of them agreed that they wanted to communicate their vision for what they hoped would be different this holiday season, with other trusted members of their family. They surmised together, that to have the best chance of moving forward, they should share these hopes in an open and honest way.

So, if you have even a little bit of hope that some of your family members might work with you around this issue, than your job becomes to communicate to them what you’d like to have happen instead of what’s currently happening.  If you can do so in an open, honest and positive way, you might gain some allies, that can help as you continue moving towards that future together. 

Here’s to those who work well with others.

Rebekka Ouer, LCSW


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Family Vs. “Family”: Tip #2 for the Upcoming Holidays

Alright, as promised, here is tip #2 in the continuing series for the the LGBT community regarding the holiday season that is fast approaching.

Tip #1 was about creating a detailed picture of how you hope the holidays will look, both for the purpose of getting on the same page with your spouse, (if applicable), as well as creating a clear destination to measure forward movement. 

So, moving in order, once you’ve done that first step, next I would advise you do this:

2. Recognize Past, & Current Progress:

As I was talking with that couple last year, I asked them to put things on a scale of 0-10, where 10 = the picture we’d just spent most of the session creating.

Well, to my surprise, they said, even with the current difficulties, they’d put things at about a 4. I immediately asked them what was happening that was contributing to things being at a 4, rather than a 3 or lower, & the answer came quickly and confidently.  They told me that the mother of the family they were concerned about, had gradually moved from an unaccepting and judgmental place where she wouldn’t even acknowledge her son’s spouse, to a place of complete acceptance.  Over the last few years she started to hug her son’s spouse when they saw each other, and they even started to talk on the phone regularly, just as she might with her other son-in-law.  It was a complete turnaround from where it started a few years before.

With some purposeful questions on my part, this couple was then able to pull some useful information from that story about what they did to contribute to this success, and it helped them make an action plan for helping other family members move a bit closer to acceptance as well. 

So remember: Recognize progress, because at the very least you will be able to realize that some things have gotten better, and you might even be able to develop a plan for continuing in that direction by repeating what’s worked already. 

Tip #3 on Friday, until then, give some credit where it’s due.

Rebekka Ouer, LCSW

@LGBT_Counselor on Twitter

& on FB: 


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Family Vs. “Family”: Tip #1 for the Upcoming Holidays

As the “Family” counselor in Dallas, and as someone who is a native and openly gay Texan, I am completely aware that for individuals, couples & families in the LGBT community, the holidays can bring about a unique kind of stress.  A stress around who your family wishes you were (and in some cases thinks that you are) and who you really are. 

This stress can bring up a lot of conflict, both with your family of origin and your family of choice.  Over the last two and a half years, I’ve had a significant number of people in this community come into my office trying to work out this very conundrum. I’ve taken that experience and combined it with some personal experiences of my own, to develop a few simple tips for you to try over the holiday season. 

These tips will each get their own blogpost over the coming days. I hope they’re helpful for you, and if you have any questions, input or comments, feel free to comment here or email me at 

Tip 1. Know exactly what you want:

I had a couple in my office last November, and one of them was feeling hurt by his spouse’s family never inviting him to family holiday events.  It was clear to both of them that the reason he was never included was because the family didn’t approve of their relationship, and didn’t accept them as they accepted the straight couples in the family. 

The first question I asked both of them before we went anywhere else was this:

“What would you like to have happen instead?”


And then I got as many details about their preferred future as I could. The reason that I asked that question first, is because whether or not their family will EVER look and act as accepting as they might hope, it was extremely important to know exactly how they envisioned a happy holiday season as a couple. Getting these details gave us a clear destination that we could then measure movement towards as we moved forward. 

So, if you are feeling a bit anxious about the pending holidays, the very first thing that I would advise both you and your partner to do, is clarify for yourselves what your vision of a happy holiday season would be, so that you are both aware of exactly what you want, and on the same page with it.

Tip #2 coming your way on Wednesday the 9th.

Getting into the spirit already,

Rebekka Ouer, LCSW 

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Accidentally Solution-Focused

Before I became a solution-focused therapist, I was unintentionally doing some very solution-focused things in my personal life.

For example, when I was in my undergrad program, I experienced my first real heartbreak, and it was incredibly tough for me to get through that time, I was feeling incredibly insecure and sad. I found myself thinking that I simply wasn’t good enough for the amazing girl who broke up with me, and therefore how could I ever be good enough for any great girl in the future. I was real down on myself for several weeks.

So when I finally got sick of feeling that way, what I did to help myself was to make a list of the reasons I had to be confidant in my life thus far, a list that included my accomplishments, my seemingly desirable attributes, and things that were in my life that I liked and hoped would stay around. Then, I made a list of the things I had to look forward to in the near and distant future. That list included things like small fun events coming up, time with friends I had planned, as well as classes I was taking and jobs I hoped to have as a professional. 

Making those lists, immediately gave me several good things to think about.

The first one provided me with some much needed & undeniable evidence of my strengths, and the good things I had going for me, which helped me to realize that I had reason to feel happy & proud of myself, and to carry some swagger as I moved through the day.

The second list served to provide me with some much needed hope for what was to come in my life professionally and personally. 

Little did I know that doing that exercise as a means of coping with a tough situation, was direct practice for the kinds of questions I would later ask my amazing clients as a professional psychotherapist. 

Hmm…maybe…in the grand scheme of things…it wasn’t really accidental after-all.

With hope, confidence, and a bit of faith,

Rebekka Ouer, LCSW

@LGBT_Counselor on Twitter 

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The Deathbed Experiment


Here’s another little challenge for you to try, that may help you be closer to your best tomorrow.

If your doctor told you today, this is are sure to meet your demise here in the coming weeks, and there’s just nothing to be done about it. 

As you look back over your life thus far, what are 20 or more life events and accomplishments that you would look back on with pride and joy?

Who in your life would you want to talk or write to, and what would you want them to know?

What are some things that you would be certain to do in the coming weeks, and who would you want to be there with you?

What about if those weeks, turned into months? 

Months to years? 

If on your deathbed, you were somehow able to be at peace and tranquility before you passed, what would that mean you were able to do before that moment?

Priorities aligning all over the place, 

Rebekka Ouer, LCSW


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The Best Audience Ever

I love conducting trainings for professionals, and classes for parents and other adults in the community where I work.  I always start these presentations off with an activity to get the audience going, and this is one of my favorites:

Think for just a minute about 5 unique attributes that you possess that make you good at what you do best. (i.e. your job, being a mom or dad, being a spouse, etc..)


Write those attributes down, and next to each one of them, write down 1 piece of evidence from the last week or two that lets you know that you possess this particular attribute.

As soon as they’re finished with this little list, I am standing in front of a room full of awesomely successful people, who were just forced to remember how uniquely talented & amazing they all really are. 

Quite a set up, eh?

I feel lucky to be in the room with ’em, every single time.

I bet if I knew your list, I’d feel honored you were reading this right now.


Rebekka Ouer, LCSW 



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Simple Wisdom

When I was in high school, I learned from my eye doctor that some people who have bad eye sight, eventually end up blind in old-age. Being a kid who wore glasses since kindergarden, this worried me a lot, and I shared my concern with one of my favorite teachers at the time. She looked at me thoughtfully and said the simplest most logical thing I’d ever heard. She said, “There’s absolutely nothing you can do to change this, Bekka, so why waste energy worrying about it?”. 

Oh…well ok, that made so much sense to me that I was immediately done being concerned about that future possibility. 

So much of the time, as I ask my clients how they’d like their lives to be different, they say something along the lines of desiring a future where they let worries go that they can’t control, and focusing instead on the things that they can. And when I see those clients again, and they’re better able to do that, they ALWAYS talk about what a huge difference that has made in their ability to feel happier and calmer throughout the day. 

Conversations like that are always a nice reminder of Ms. T’s wise words back in high school.

Seeing clearer all the time,

Rebekka Ouer, LCSW

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