The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) community has faced social stigma for years. There have been advancements in the attitudes about this population (e.g., when the mental health field determined several decades ago that homosexuality was not a mental illness, and more recently, when gay marriage was nationally legalized earlier in 2015). However, society as a whole has still not adopted this attitude, and discrimination against the LGBT population continues.
When someone’s outward expression of his/her identity differs from society’s expectations of his/her behavior, this person may be ridiculed, harassed, or teased by others. Therefore, many individuals choose to remain “closeted” (not expressing or revealing themselves as LGBT) for fear of offensive treatment (anti-gay jokes/teasing, bullying, violence, etc.). Such harsh treatment may continue through adolescence and may even persist into adulthood, resulting in mental health problems and emotional distress for those who are questioning their identity or who may already identify as LGBT. Heterosexual bias and homophobic prejudice can affect LGBT individuals as children, adolescents, and adults. It is important for the LGBT community to have a strong support system (consisting of family, friends, and health-care providers) for improved psychological health and emotional stability.
A client may seek therapy for various issues related to his/her sexual orientation, which may include, but is not limited to: conflicting feelings or uncertainty about their sexual orientation; relationship discord with others, including family members (especially parents), friends, or peers; they may be the subject of prejudice or discrimination, which may be present in both school and/or the workplace; or they may experience psychological stress due to remaining “closeted.” In extreme cases, these individuals may be the targets of hate crimes, including emotional and physical trauma. Each of these situations may take a tremendous toll on a person’s psychological and emotional well-being, which may increase the likelihood of depression, anxiety, or even suicidal behaviors because he or she may feel alone and unsupported.
Sometimes it is necessary to seek help from a trained professional. It is very important for the therapist to be knowledgeable, yet sensitive and show respect to, the client seeking help. Clinicians who understand the unique issues faced by LGBT clients, and who are aware of the oppressive attitudes of a heterosexist society, are far more effective in treating this population than those who are vaguely familiar with these issues. In addition to following the ethical guidelines for mental-health providers, it is just as important for the clinician to take an affirmative approach to therapy, free of heterosexist bias and homophobic prejudice.
Services may be aimed at the individual client or be part of relationship or family counseling. An effective therapist will provide the client and the family with tools and resources to help improve the client’s mental health and emotional well-being. The insight gained in therapy can be highly effective for clients who are looking to receive understanding and support from loved ones. Working with a supportive therapist to identify the negative patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is paramount in treating the LGBT population.
Seeking an experienced and knowledgeable therapist can help a client receive the emotional support needed to cope with such stressors. Thriveworks Conway can help you navigate your way through those pressures. We will help to normalize your feelings and offer assistance in a therapeutically safe, nonjudgmental, and professional environment.
You are not alone in your struggle. Thriveworks Conway can identify the negative patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that may be holding you back from reaching a greater understanding of yourself, your relationships, and the world. We will help you to identify your needs, explore your feelings, and to help you thrive. Appointments are available within 24 hours, on weekends, and during the evenings.
Call today and make the first step on loving the real you.