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 Chesterfield, VA 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.
Over the past few decades, members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning community have seen a shift toward cultural and legal inclusion. Many celebrities have used their platforms to facilitated sensitivity and kindness. TV shows like Will and Grace have humanized those who identify as LGBTQ and brought challenges they face to everyone’s attention with charm and humor. Mitchell Pritchett and Cam Tucker, on Modern Family, depict a loving family. Then, there are the legal battles that have been fought and won for equality, especially marriage equality. And yet, there is still so much more work to do. Here is a small peek at some of the mental health challenges that those in the LGBTQ community face:
Those who identify as LGBTQ experience mental illness at a rate that is three times higher than other populations (disorders like major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder).
- They experience “minority stress,” resulting from the higher rates of prejudice, harassment, abuse, social exclusion, and family rejection they experience.
- Youth ages 10-24 in the LGBTQ community experience higher rates of prejudice, hatred, and bullying in their homes and at school.
- Suicide is one of the main causes of death for LGBTQ youth.
- Approximately 9 percent of the general population struggles with substance abuse, but over 30 percent of those in the LGBTQ community struggle.
There is clearly more work to do. The counselors, life coaches, and therapists at Thriveworks Chesterfield are ready to be a part of that work. We offer mental health care that accounts for the unique burdens that those in the LGBTQ community carry while at the same time giving each client the individualized care that they deserve.
What Does LGBTQ Sensitive Therapy Offer?
One of the foundations of mental health is the importance of living one’s truth. Up until 1973, the American Psychological Association labeled homosexuality a pathological disorder. That means, people were stigmatized within the mental health care community for living their truth. It is a shame upon the profession that has cast a shadow on the care that people who identify as LGBTQ still feel today. In fact, many experience a widely-acknowledged dual stigma: those who identify as LGBTQ experience more mental health challenges and they have more difficulty finding sensitive mental health care. It is important to find a therapist who is sensitive to the unique challenges that those within the LGBTQ community. Here are a few tips for seeking out a counselor or therapist:
- If you feel safe, let your counselor or therapist that treatment that is sensitive to the needs of LGBTQ individuals is important to you.
- Directly ask about your counselor or therapist’s past experiences working with those who identify as LGBTQ.
- If you are comfortable with those answers, disclose information about your gender identity and/or sexual identity.
- Share about your experiences with anxiety, depression, suicide, fear, self-harm, et cetera.
- LGBTQ sensitive therapy often allows people to work through topics such as:
- Safety concerns
- How and when to come out
- Healthy communication
- Dealing with discrimination and non-acceptance
- Family concerns
- Gender and sexual identity
- Dating and other relationships
- Eating disorders
- Self-esteem issues
- Transcending gender roles
- Anxiety and stress
- Past trauma and abuse
Trust within the Therapeutic Relationship
The counselors at Thriveworks Chesterfield understand the dual stigma that LGBTQ people face. We offer mental health care that is informed and sensitive to their needs. Every client who walks into our office has particular needs, a particular context, and every client who walks through our office needs a safe place where they can be honest and speak without fear or shame. This means offering personalized care. When therapist see their clients for who they are, clients often feel safe to explore their lives on a deeper level. As therapists and clients get to know each other and build this trust, counselors may ask…
- How did you come to the decision to start counseling?
- What excites and energizes you?
- Are you in a relationship? Married? Dating?
- Where are you living? Are you safe?
- If there were something you would like to change in your life, what would it be?
- Where do you see yourself in a year…three years…five years?
Scheduling an Appointment at Thriveworks Chesterfield for LGBTQ Counseling
When you think about what is going on in your life, what would it be like to have an ally? What would it be like to have a place where you were known and accepted unconditionally? If you are ready to begin counseling, know that the professionals at Thriveworks Chesterfield are ready to meet with you. You are not alone. We offer therapy that is sensitive to the needs of those in the LGBTQ community, and we have appointments available.
When you contact our office, one of our scheduling specialists will answer your call. We do not have voicemail or an automated response system. Instead, a person will help you make an appointment. New clients often have their first appointment within 24 hours of their call to make an appointment. We offer evening and weekend sessions. However, we do not keep a waitlist. Instead, we want our clients to have the mental health care they deserve when they need it. We also accept many different insurance plans. Call Thriveworks Chesterfield today for an appointment.