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 Philadelphia, PA 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.
Many people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or questioning are enjoying cultural and legal victories that promote their human rights. Celebrities like Ellen have used their platform to encourage understanding and kindness. TV shows like Will & Grace and Modern Family have used humor to raise awareness of the various challenges LGBTQ people face. In the 2018, two openly gay athletes competed in the Pyeongchang, South Korea, and Adam Rippon became the first gay man to medal at a winter Olympics. Despite these victories, much more work needs to be done. Those in the LGBTQ community experience higher rates of marginalization, discrimination, and abuse simply for being themselves. What is the result of this maltreatment? The LGBTQ population also face higher rates of anxiety, depression, and addiction than the straight, cis-gendered population.
“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
A bedrock of emotional healthy is freedom to be oneself. That means acknowledging likes and dislikes. That means being honest about strengths and weaknesses. It also means being true to one’s gender and sexuality. People who identify at LGBTQ face particular challenges as they seek emotional health and freedom. That is one of the many reasons Thriveworks Philadelphia offers LGBTQ competent therapy. We know that our LGBTQ clients face unique challenges, and we are ready to help them as they fight again repression and fight for freedom.
LGBTQ Sensitive Counseling
It is not always easy to live in self-acceptance and freedom. Family and friends may or may not be supportive. Internal conflict and confusion can cause significant anxiety. These challenges are difficult but normal. Everyone needs a safe space where they can face these challenges with honesty and with support. For many, that safe space is therapy. Skilled mental health professionals create an environment where their clients do not feel judged or shamed. Instead, they can dream, question, remember, speak, and plan. Instead, their self-awareness and self-acceptance can grow. Such an environment is particularly important for clients who identify as LGBTQ as they often face extra roadblocks on their healing journey.
Many untrue and unfair stigmas still plague many in the LGBTQ community, and these stigmas exact a psychological and emotional price. What is the real-world impact of that toll? Consider these grievous realities:
- The cis-gendered and straight population has a substance abuse rate of 9 percent, but the LGBTQ population’s substance abuse rate is 30 percent.
- LGBTQ youth, ages 10-24 face more fear, prejudice, hatred, and bulling in their homes and in their schools than their cis-gendered and straight peers.
- LGBTQ people are diagnosed with mental illness at twice the rate of others.
- Many LGBTQ people report experience a heightened anxiety called “minority stress.” This often results from facing family rejection, social exclusion, the denial of human rights, harassment, prejudice, and abuse.
- A lead cause of death for LGBTQ youth is suicide.
As sobering as these realities are, they only tell half the story. The LGBTQ also faces a dual-stigma: those who often need mental health care the most may have the hardest time finding a competent therapist. The American Psychological Association officially defined homosexuality as a pathology up until 1973. Even though the definition has changed, many therapists are not informed or accepting of the care LGBTQ clients need.
What does it look like for mental health professionals to offer LGBTQ competent care? How can individuals ensure their therapist will respect their gender and sexual orientation? Here are a few tips for choosing a therapist.
- When calling to schedule an appointment, ask about the counselor’s experience with LGBTQ clients. It is okay to request past examples.
- Listen to your intuition. If you feel comfortable, schedule an appointment. If at any point, you do not feel comfortable, move onto another therapist.
- During your appointment, let your counselor know that LGBTQ sensitive therapy is important to you.
- During treatment, disclosure whatever you feel safe disclosing about your sexual orientation and gender.
- During treatment, disclose whatever you feel safe disclosing about past traumas and current mental health struggles you are experiencing.
- There is no right or wrong topic for therapy. Many people choose to discuss topics like…
- Gender and sexual identity
- Safety concerns
- Healthy communication
- Dealing with discrimination and non-acceptance
- How and when to come out
- Dating and other relationships
- Family concerns
- Transcending gender roles
- Eating disorders
- Anxiety and stress
- Self-esteem issues
- Past trauma and abuse
Setting Up an Appointment at Thriveworks Philadelphia for LGBTQ Informed Counseling
Are you considering reaching out and meeting with a therapist? Do you want to work with a mental health professional who offers LGBTQ competent care? If you are ready to start counseling, the professionals at Thriveworks Philadelphia are ready to meet with you. When you contact our office, a scheduling specialist will answer your call and help you make an appointment. We do not have voicemail. We also do not put our customers on a waitlist. You may have your first appointment within 24 hours of your first call. We offer evening and weekend sessions, and we accept many different insurance plans. Life is hard. Scheduling therapy should not be. Let’s work together. Call Thriveworks Philadelphia today.