LGBTQIA+ Couples Counseling

Working together, I can help you and your partner resolve problems and guide you in creating the relationship you want, based on your needs rather than on the norms or expectations of others. I specialize in helping queer, gay, lesbian, transgender, non-binary, and other couples:

  • Create healthier relationships
  • Grow closer
  • Improve communication
  • Increase sexual intimacy
  • Explore commitment

I work with LGBTQIA+ folks in monogamous and consensually non-monogamous relationships, and with a wide range of sexual practices. Clients have told me that they appreciate my warm, non-judgmental, and collaborative approach to relationship counseling.

Researchers have found that queer, gay, and lesbian couples are more likely to have happy, satisfying relationships than heterosexual couples. Yet LGBTQIA+ couples can experience stress caused by bias, homophobia, heterosexism, lack of relationship role models, family tension, trauma, and societal pressures. While the option to marry or to have children may feel like an opportunity to some couples, it can create pressure or a sense of loss for others. I can help you and your partner explore these issues and gain clarity about what’s right for you.

“How do we begin couples counseling?” To begin the process, you’ll first meet with me as a couple for a 70-minute session, and then each of you will have a 60-minute individual session with me. After that, we’ll meet weekly for couples sessions.

You’ll leave each session with home assignments to help you continue working on your relationship. I also may suggest books, videos, or other resources.

“How long does couples counseling take?” It depends on the issues you’re facing, the length of time you’ve been experiencing them, and the quality of your relationship when it was at its best.

If you or your partner aren’t sure whether you want to make a commitment to working on your relationship, I may suggest Discernment Counseling (see below).

Some couples who already have good relationships seek short-term counseling to help deepen their relationship or to strengthen a specific area, such as communication or sex.

We also offer Intensive Couples Therapy Retreats, which are multi-hour or multi-day therapy experiences tailored to a couple’s specific needs and designed to provide indepth therapy in a short timeframe.

“I want to do couples counseling, but my partner is thinking about leaving.” If one or both of you isn’t sure whether to end the relationship or to commit to working on it through couples counseling, I can help you decide. We’ll engage in a short-term process (maximum of five 90-minute sessions) called Discernment Counseling that will help each of you gain more clarity and confidence about which path to take moving forward.

I also provide individual relationship therapy to people whose partners won’t do couples counseling or who have recently ended a relationship.

“What couples counseling approaches do you use?” I use Imago Relationship Therapy, Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, Gottman Relationship Therapy, and Existential Couples Therapy because I’ve found that they’re the most successful approaches to healing LGBTQIA+ relationships, strengthening emotional and sexual intimacy, and improving communication. I also use approaches developed by Joe Kort (couples therapy and sexual intimacy), Emily Nagoski (sexual intimacy), and other relationship experts.

“Do you provide premarital counseling?” Yes. If you and your partner are planning to marry or enter a committed relationship, I can help you get off to a strong start. In one to three 70-minute sessions, we’ll explore core areas that contribute to a successful marriage.

“We have a consensually non-monogamous relationship.” I work with clients who are in open, polyamorous, and other types of consensually non-monogamous relationships, as well as monogamous ones. What’s important is for both of you to clearly define and agree on the terms of your relationship. I can help you explore this and gain clarity.

“Do you provide sex therapy to couples and individuals?” Yes, as a sex therapist, I can help you with a range of sexual issues. I’ll provide information, suggest strategies and at-home exercises, and will guide you in finding solutions so that your sex life and relationship are more satisfying.

It’s my job to help you feel comfortable, safe, and respected while exploring these issues. There are no exams, no nudity, and no sexual touching in the therapy room.

Lisa Smith Psychotherapy, 202.540.8244,, 1801 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20009 (Dupont Circle Metro)