There is no question, attitudes in the United States are changing to be more accepting of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning. There is also no question that there is more room to improve. As with most fights for human rights, change happens incrementally. Yes, major legal wins have delivered advancement for marriage equality. Yes, influential voices are using their soapbox to advocate for more inclusion and kindness. Yes, those in the LGBTQ community still face high rates of marginalization and discrimination. Yes, they are paying a mental health toll for this stigmatization as they face higher rates of addiction, anxiety, and depression.
“It takes no compromise to give people their rights…
it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk
Living in freedom—the freedom to be oneself—is the foundational of good emotional health. This includes the freedom to have one’s own likes and dislikes. This includes being honest about one’s weaknesses and strengths. This includes being true to one’s gender and sexuality. Those within the LGBTQ community face roadblocks that others do not. The therapists and counselors at Thriveworks Columbia understand the many forms those obstacles can take, and we are ready to offer support and care for they journey toward self-acceptance and mental health.
LGBTQ Inclusive Therapy
Living one’s truth is critical, but that does not mean it is easy. Others are not always supportive of our truth. Sometimes, we are not even sure of our truth. One of the goals of any therapeutic relationship is safety. When people have a safe place where they can dream, question, speak, remember, and plan without judgment and without shame, then often, they often grow a strong sense of self. There are many positive changes that people experience when they feel this trust, kindness, truth, and self-acceptance, and those within the LGBTQ community need extra support for this process.
People who identify as LGBTQ still face an untrue and unfaith stigma that is nonetheless very real, and this stigma demands a psychological and emotional price. The stress of experience discrimination, harassment, and rejection at higher rates than others has real-life impact. Here is a glimpse into that impact:
- While the substance abuse rate for those in the general population is 9 percent, the rate within the LGBTQ community is 30 percent.
- People who identify as LGBTQ report experiencing on-going “minority stress” that results from experiencing more prejudice, denial of human rights, abuse, harassment, family rejection, and social exclusion.
- LGBTQ youth, ages 10-24 experienced greater rates of hatred, bullying, fear, and prejudice within their schools and homes.
- LGBTQ youth are also four times more likely to try and kill themselves than their straight or cis-gendered peers.
- Those within the LGBTQ community experience mental illnesses such as major depressive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder at rates that are three times higher than the general population.
As sobering as these statistics are, the LGBTQ community also faces a “dual stigma” within the mental health care field. Up until 1973, the American Psychological Associate labeled homosexuality as a pathology. The very mental health care that so many within the LGBTQ community needed was denied to because of an unacceptable bias. Even though the label has been officially overturned, many mental health care professionals are uninformed and un-affirming toward their clients who identify as LGBTQ.
The cultural and social context that people live in matters, and given this context, it is understandable that many people within the LGBTQ community have hesitated to reach out for help. However, times are changing. More and more, therapists and counselors are sensitive toward the unique circumstances that their LGBTQ clients face. More and more, LGBTQ people are reaching out for the mental health care they need.
What does it look like for therapists to offer LGBTQ informed care? The counselors at Thriveworks work hard to build trust with their clients. We know that everyone needs a safe place to be themselves, to speak their truth, to tell their story, and to be heard. Our therapists understand the harm that harassment, discrimination, and abuse causes. We honor our clients’ pain. We also honor our clients’ dreams. Many clients also need a safe place to dream and an ally to accomplish those dreams.
There is no formula, but many topics that arise in therapy include:
- Dealing with discrimination and non-acceptance
- “Coming out” issues
- Anxiety and stress
- Family concerns
- Eating disorders
- Dating and other relationships
- Gender and sexual identity
- Healthy communication
- Transcending gender roles
- Self-esteem issues
- Safety concerns
- Past trauma and abuse
Appointments for LGBTQ Informed Counseling at Thriveworks Columbia
Take a moment to think about what is going on in your life right now. If you are facing discrimination or family rejection or a mental health disorder or minority stress or any number of issues, know that you are not alone. The therapists are Thriveworks Columbia are ready to provide the mental health care you deserve. When you contact our office, know that a real person will answer the phone and help you make an appointment. We do not have an automated response system or a voicemail. New clients often have their first appointment within 24 hours. Weekend and evening sessions are offer. We also accept many forms of insurance. Let’s work together. Call Thriveworks Columbia today.