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Featured Project - Relationship Support for Same Sex Couples

Same sex couples need legal recognition, and they also need access to good relationship enhancement

Relationship Support for Same Sex Couples

“Same sex couples need legal recognition, and they also need access to good relationship enhancement” says Professor Kim Halford of University of Queensland. Relationship education has been shown to help happy couples strengthen their relationship and sustain happiness. But most relationship enhancement is offered by religious organizations, who often ignore or even reject same sex couples.

Psychologists at University of Queensland in Brisbane and Latrobe University in Melbourne have developed a relationship education program specifically for same sex couples. The team is led by Professor Kim Halford at University of Queensland, and Drs. Chris Pepping and Dr. Anthony Lyons at Latrobe University. Together they are offering the program free to couples living in Brisbane and Melbourne as a first step in evaluating the program and addressing the significant gap in services for same-sex couples.

The education program is Rainbow Couple CARE, which is run as a 1.5 day group workshop across a Friday evening and Saturday. The program helps currently satisfied couples to strengthen their relationship. Topics covered include exploring relationship expectations, enhancing communication, expanding fun and mutual support, and having a fulfilling sex life.

Rainbow Couple CARE is an adaptation of the widely used Couple CARE program developed by Professor Halford and colleagues. Couple CARE has been researched for more than 20 years and found to improve couple relationship satisfaction across at least 4 to 5 year period.

There are some specific challenges same sex couples face in developing a great relationship that are addressed in Rainbow Couple CARE. For example, most Gay and Lesbian people are raised by heterosexual parents, and often were not exposed to same sex couples making their relationship work well. “The lack of role models on how to have a great relationship as you grow up can be a challenge for people. Hence in the program we examine role models of relationships and other influences on relationship expectations to help couples have the relationships they want” explained Dr. Chris Pepping.

Sadly, same sex couples often have to deal with homophobia. In Rainbow Couple CARE we explore the partners’ experiences of homophobia and how partners can support each other sustain a positive gay identity.

“In order for services to be useful for gay and lesbian people, the service needs to be Gay friendly. That the special needs of same sex couples are addressed. In our research we found many services just are not gay friendly” explained Dr. Lyons. Hence we developed Rainbow Couple CARE specifically for Gay and Lesbian couples.    

While there are some distinctive challenges for same sex couples, most of the things that help couples have a great relationship are similar for same sex and opposite sex couples. “We have been able to use a lot of the existing Couple CARE program in this new adaptation for same sex couples” explained Professor Halford. “That means we can build upon the 25 year’s work we have done in program development, and at the same time make this a special program for same sex couples. For example, we know shared and realistic expectations about the relationship, good communication, commitment, having fun and a good sex life are important for all couples.”

Rainbow Couple CARE workshops will run in Brisbane at the University of Queensland on Friday evening 16 October –Saturday 17, and again on Friday evening 23 October and Saturday 24.

If you want to know more about taking part ring 07 33656375, register interest online at:

Or send an email to:

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Created: Thursday, 17th September 2015 by uqpjack1
Modified: Thursday, 17th September 2015 by uqpjack1
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