Cultural attitudes are changing toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning community. Outspoken celebrities, like Ellen, have used their voice to speak up for inclusion, equality, and kindness. TV shows, like Modern Family, have depicted loving couples like Mitchell Pritchett and Cam Tucker while others, like Will and Grace, have brought LGBTQ issues to people’s attention with a charming humor. Legally, the LGBTQ community has won many recent victories for human rights and equality, in particular regarding marriage. Many people look at these gains, and think that the obstacles that keep the LGBTQ community from experiencing the acceptance they deserve have been removed. However, as with any cultural change, progress comes incrementally, and often, we take two steps forward and then one step back. Consider these startling statistics:
- Members of the LGBTQ community suffer from mental health disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder, at a rate that is three times as high as the general population.
- They frequently experience “minority stress” simply for being themselves—treatment like abuse, prejudice, harassment, family rejection, denial of human right, and social exclusion.
- While about 9 percent of the general population experiences substance abuse, about 30 percent of the LGBTQ community experiences substance abuse.
- LGBTQ youth (ages 10-24) experience more prejudice, fear, hatred, and bullying than their peers, and suicide is one of their leading causes of death.
Much progress has been made, but much progress still needs to be made. Discrimination and marginalization are common experiences for many within the LGBTQ community, and the stress from inequality takes a steep toll.
That is why Thriveworks Phoenix offers LGBTQ affirmative counseling and therapy. We understand that many mental health professionals are like the general population—some affirming and understanding while others are not. The therapists and counselors at Thriveworks Phoenix offer care that is sensitive to the unique struggles members of the LGBTQ community face and that supports them as they live their truth.
What Is LGBTQ Affirmative Counseling?
As recently as the 1970s, the mental health profession labeled homosexuality as a pathology. Innocent people who were simply living their truth were labeled with a mental illness. This history is a shame to many now working in the field, but the truth is that many in the mental health field are still behind in their understanding of the unique challenges that those in the LGBTQ community face. In fact, there is a term for this. People in the LGBTQ often face a “dual stigma” when they seek out mental health care. They have the initial mental health challenge, but they also can had difficulty finding a therapist or counselor who is affirming of their gender and sexuality.
“You can argue that it’s a different world now than the one when Matthew Shepard was killed, but there is a subtle difference between tolerance and acceptance. … It’s the chasm between being invited to a colleague’s wedding with your same-sex partner and being able to slow-dance without the other guests whispering.”
― Jodi Picoult, Sing You Home
It is understandable that members of the LGBTQ may be hesitant to reach out for help when they experience depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and more. At Thriveworks Phoenix, our hope is that we can play a part in erasing the double stigma. Our desire is to offer sensitive and informed care to our clients who identify as LGBTQ.
Specifically, LGBTQ affirmative therapy may address topics such as:
- How and when to come out
- Dealing with discrimination and non-acceptance
- Healthy communication
- Dating and other relationships
- Gender and sexual identity
- Transcending gender roles
- Eating disorders
- Family concerns
- Self-esteem issues
- Anxiety and stress
- Safety concerns
- Past trauma and abuse
Thriveworks Phoenix works hard to establish an affirming and informed therapeutic relationship that is founded upon trust. Clients often experience listening, empathy, and respect during their sessions, and as trust grows, they often feel safe. They often feel as if they can share their truth without fear of being judged. To build trust and to gain a better understanding of how to care for each client, therapists may ask …
- What circumstances prompted the decision to start therapy?
- How are your living circumstances? Are you safe?
- What excites and energizes you?
- How are the relationships in your life? With your friends? Family? Romantic interests?
- If you could change anything about your life, what would it be?
- Where do you want to go? Personally? Professionally?
The cliché image of therapy is a person lying on a sofa, talking about life’s difficulties. The image is a cliché because in many cases, it is true—at least the working through life’s difficulties part. However, the therapists at Thriveworks Phoenix also hope that their care involves focusing positive experiences, life goals, and personal growth.
Setting Up an Appointment at Thriveworks Phoenix for LGBTQ Affirmative Therapy
If you are ready to meet with a mental health professional about whatever may be happening in your life, know that the therapists and counselors at Thriveworks Phoenix are ready too. When you call to schedule an appointment, you will reach a real person (not a voicemail). Your first appointment may be within 24 hours. We accept many forms of insurance, and we offer evening and weekend appointments.
You are worthy, and you belong. You do not have to fight for your mental health alone. Contact Thriveworks Phoenix today.