Couples therapy is no longer just for middle-class heterosexuals. Two experienced psychotherapists have launched a therapy group for gay men who want to strengthen their relationships.

For the past four years therapists Curt Mason and Peter East have run ACON’s 12-week group therapy sessions for men, focusing on issues of intimacy. That format and focus are now being extended to men in couples who want help with existing problems, or would like a pre-emptive tune-up before reaching the inevitable bumps in the gravel roads of long-term relationships.

The approach taken in the group sessions is a fluid and open one, Mason and East explained, providing a space for men to raise whatever issues they want — intimacy, monogamy, or even the very act of thinking long-term.

“We found there was a real need for this kind of therapy in the gay community. Relationships Australia doesn’t run anything for gay men, and we couldn’t find anything like it, so it was important to start it up,” Mason said.

“A lot of the issues for gay couples can be the same as [for] heterosexual, and a lot can be different, but sometimes gay men in relationships can feel a bit blind and unsure of where to go.”

Rather than seeing therapy as a last-resort option, East said the group is open to people with varying levels of need.

“Therapy was once looked at as a resource for only people who were unwell, but now it’s a much more acceptable and accesible way for people to explore any life situations that are unsatisfactory,” he said.

“It provides a space for people to look at things in a different way and relate with each other in a different way.”

Mason and East are seeking expressions of interest from couples who would like to take part before finalising session dates.

They have confirmed details for a three-day couples retreat in June, however. Held in the Govinda Valley, the retreat will incorporate meditation and yoga with therapy sessions.

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