LGBTQ+ counseling is a type of queer affirmative counseling dedicated to assisting individuals and couples in navigating the intricate intersections of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and mental health, with a primary goal of fostering well-being, self-acceptance, and affirming a client's life experiences as a queer individual. Although not all LGBTQ+ individuals seek specialized counseling, a substantial number discover vital support and empathy within these inclusive and affirming therapeutic settings.
Thriveworks LGBTQ+ counseling in Cambridge, MA typically begins with an initial assessment to understand your specific needs. LGBTQ+ counselors aim to create a safe, inclusive, and affirming environment for anyone within the LGBTQ+ community by encouraging self-acceptance and offering an understanding of your identity and experiences. The therapy addresses issues like coming out, discrimination, mental health challenges, and gender transition, and provides support for LGBTQ+ relationships.
LGBTQ+ counseling is incredibly important because it can help queer individuals accept their identity, learn self-love, and give them important tools for facing the challenges of being a queer person in today's society, among many other benefits. LGBTQ+-affirming therapists can understand the unique perspective and experiences of queer individuals as they help them process past trauma, address family conflicts, treat issues with anxiety, and more.
In many ways, the Olympics are a mirror for so much of what is happening culturally. Take, for example, the love and acceptance that was shown to Gus Kenworthy and Adam Rippon at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. They are two openly gay athletes who competed as fans all over the world cheered them on in their competition and in their advocacy for understanding and acceptance. Gus Kenworthy competed at the previous Olympics in the closet. He reflected upon that experience, 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.” Despite the courage and acceptance Adam and Gus displayed for the world, there were still many athletes who came to the games in the closet because of the rejection and abuse they would face at home if they came out. Adam and Gus both reported that several other athletes and coaches came out privately to them and discussed the discrimination they would face if they came out to the world. Yes, much progress has been made for those who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or questioning, but yes, there is also more work to do.
Think about these sobering facts:
- Suicide is a leading cause of death for LGBTQ youth.
- Many who identify as LGBTQ report experiencing “minority stress” as a result of facing higher rates of social exclusion, harassment, family rejection, abuse, and prejudice.
- Rates of Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and other mental illnesses are higher within the LGBTQ community.
Inclusive mental health care is a significant need within the LGBTQ community. Everyone deserves to be loved and supported for who they are. That is why Thriveworks Cambridge offers LGBTQ competent therapy. We have helped many LGBTQ clients find the self-acceptance and healing they deserve.
Why Does LGBTQ Competent Counseling Matter?
Unfortunately, when people who identify as LGBTQ seek out mental health care, they may or may not find an understanding therapist. The mental health profession has history of abusive and unethical treatment. It was not until 1973 that the American Psychological Association stopped pathologizing homosexuality. Even though the official definitions changed, attitudes lagged behind. Some therapists still see gender and sexual orientation as issues to be fixed instead of realities to be accepted. Thus, some of the people who are in the most need of mental health care have the most difficulty finding quality counseling. This is such a common occurrence that it has a name: the dual stigma.
The dual stigma is a problem people within the LGBTQ community and within the mental health care community want to change. Many want to see LGBTQ people find the healing and care they deserve. While some therapists are not competent to treat clients who identify as LGBTQ, others are. Here are some tips for meeting with a new therapist and determining whether they are a competent counselor for you:
- Before scheduling an appointment, ask about the therapist’s past experiences working with clients who identify as LGBTQ. Request examples.
- During an appointment (if you decide to schedule one), let the therapist know that LGBTQ competent treatment is important to you.
- Throughout therapy, listen to and follow your intuition. If you feel unsafe, it is okay to try a different therapist.
- As therapy progresses and as you feel comfortable, disclose what you want about your own sexual identity and gender.
- As you feel safe, speak about any mental health challenges you are experiencing.
- There is no agenda for therapy except healing, but often, as clients feel safe, they raise issues such as…
- 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
A therapist’s main goal should be to build trust. Everyone deserves a safe space where they can share freely about their hopes and fears, opportunities and challenges, experiences and traumas, successes and failures. In order for clients to share deeply, they must trust that their therapist will meet their vulnerability with empathy. They must trust that the therapeutic relationship is a no-shame and a no-fear zone. Only when clients trust that they will be accepted for who they are can the therapeutic relationship progress. Then, the potential for healing is great. The potential for setting up a life that is founded upon self-acceptance and love is great. The potential for building a life that the client loves living is great.
Scheduling an Appointment at Thriveworks Cambridge for LGBTQ Informed Counseling
Take a moment to consider what is happening in your life right now. Are you considering going to therapy? If mental health care is the right next step for you, the therapists at Thriveworks Cambridge are ready to walk with you. We have helped many LGBTQ clients find the competent care they needed. In the processes, they have also found healing and acceptance. When you call our office, know that you will speak to a person who can help you make an appointment. New clients often have their first session within 24 hours of their first call. We accept many forms of insurance. Let’s get started.