Utilizing Five Adlerian Life Tasks as an Integrative Perspective for Counseling Gay Men

This paper is a literature review examining early Adlerian theory and attitudes towards gay men. It examines the discriminatory, historical Adlerian theory regarding gay men and their ability to achieve success in the Adlerian life tasks of love, work and community. It also reviews two life tasks proposed in 1967, the life tasks of self-identity and spirituality, because of their potential influence on gay men. Furthermore, recent clinical research is utilized to illustrate the challenges gay men face in achieving their life tasks due to the effects of societal oppression, homophobia and heterosexism. Analysis shows how society presents gay males with the double bind of choosing between living authentic lives or achievement in life tasks. Despite societal pressure, gay men do achieve success in self-identity formation; establishing loving and intimate relationships; finding meaningful careers; contributing to the well being of their community; and developing a spiritual connection. Finally, this paper examines the impact group therapy has as a therapeutic tool for working with gay men and discuss key Adlerian therapeutic tools that can be adapted to help overcome oppressive societal messages, producing encouragement towards growth and change.

Mark J. Reese
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