One of the reasons the world loves the Olympics is because they are a mirror of the world. For example, in 2018’s Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang, two openly gay athletes competed. Both Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy used their platform to speak openly and advocate for more understanding and acceptance of athletes who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or Questioning. Rippon and Kenworthy exemplified so much healthy change that is happening for the LGBTQ community that is experiencing more and more acceptance and understanding. Kenworthy competed in another Olympics before he came out, and he reflected upon that time, saying, “It pushed me to this place where I needed to come out and I’m so happy that I did. To take that step meant a lot for me and for my mental well-being.” The Olympics, unfortunately, was also a reminder that the world is still not always a safe place for LGBTQ individuals. Adam and Gus competed out of the closet, but they also told stories of athletes and coaches who came out privately to them. Yet, these individuals faced abuse and discrimination if they came out to the world. Great strides are being made for acceptance and equality, but there is more work to do. Here are a few sobering realities that those within the LGBTQ community face:
- For LGBTQ youth (ages 10-24), a leading cause of death is suicide.
- “Minor stress” is a common experience for LGBTQ people. They often experience heightened anxiety due to experiencing higher rates of harassment, abuse, family rejection, prejudice, and social exclusion.
- The rate of mental illness (for disorders such as PTSD, substance abuse, Major Depressive Disorder, and the like) in the LGBTQ community is three times higher than it is in cis-gendered and straight populations.
One of the most important foundations of mental health is self-awareness and self-acceptance. All people deserve love and support, but LGBTQ individuals often face barriers to their well-being simply because of who they are. Thriveworks Asheville Counseling offers LGBTQ capable counseling because we want everyone to experience self-acceptance and good mental health.
How Can LGBTQ Capable Counseling Make a Difference?
The mental health profession has a history of pathologizing those in the LGBTQ community. Before 1973, the American Psychological Association officially defined homosexuality as a disorder, but even since the authorized definition has changed, attitudes have not always shifted. Thus, many LGBTQ people face a dual stigma: those who need mental health care the most may have the most difficulty finding it. Some mental health professionals still try to fix their clients’ sexual orientation and gender instead of leading these clients toward self-acceptance.
Many people in the mental health care community and within the LGBTQ community are working to change the dual stigma. Therapists are becoming more and more educated upon the needs that their LGBTQ clients have and the best way to help them find the healing and care they deserve. If you are considering working with a therapist, here are a few tips for finding a LGBTQ capable mental health professional:
- When scheduling your session, ask whether the counselor has experience working with LGBTQ clients, and feel free to ask for examples.
- Always following your gut. If your intuition does not feel safe, do not proceed. Try a different therapist. If you are satisfied with the answers, move forward with the relationship.
- As you feel comfortable with your therapist, let them know that LGBTQ capable therapy is important to you.
- When you are ready, disclose information about your gender and sexuality.
- When you are ready, disclose past trauma, current abuse, and/or mental health challenges you are facing.
- Healing is the primary agenda for therapy, and there is no list that could contain the topics that may be address there. Just a few examples of topics LGBTQ clients may raise include…
- Safety concerns
- Gender and sexual identity
- Healthy communication
- Dealing with discrimination and non-acceptance
- Dating and other relationships
- How and when to come out
- Family concerns
- Transcending gender roles
- Eating disorders
- Self-esteem issues
- Anxiety and stress
- Past trauma and abuse
In order for healing to take place, trust must be built between clients and therapists. As clients feel safe, they often share about their traumas and triumphs, weaknesses and strengths, successes and failures. Therapy is often about healing past wounds, but healing also has a future aspect. Clients and therapists look back, but they also look forward, working toward building the client a life where they feel loved and experience the acceptance they deserve.
Scheduling an Appointment at Thriveworks Asheville for LGBTQ Capable Therapy
Think about what is going on in your life. If you are thinking about working with a mental health professional, consider reaching out to Thriveworks Asheville. If counseling is your next step, we are ready to walk with you. We offer LGBTQ capable therapy, and we have appointments available. When you contact our office, a person, not a voicemail, will answer. Our scheduling specialist will help you make an appointment. Your first appointment may be within 24 hours of your first call. We offer evening and weekend sessions, but we do not put our clients on a waitlist (because we do not keep one). We also work with many different insurance companies and accept many different forms of insurance. Call Thriveworks Asheville today.