In the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, Adam Rippon became the first openly gay winter Olympian to medal. Many Americans cheered him both on and off the ice as he helped US Figure Skating win a team bronze medal with his emotional performance. He also helped bring awareness and understanding of what it is like to be an openly gay athlete. Rippon joined up with his friend, Gus Kenworthy, as an outspoken advocate for acceptance for athletes who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or Questioning. In reality, Adam and Gus were an inspiration to anyone, not just LGBTQ athletes. If only the world consistently reflected the courage and love on display at the Olympics. While great strides have been made, the LGBTQ still faces stigma and shame for being who they are. Here are a few sobering realities:
- Suicide is a leading cause of death for LGBTQ youth, ages 10-24.
- At home and at school, LGBTQ youth experience more bullying, hatred, prejudice, and fear than their cis-gendered and straight peers.
- The rate of mental disorders within the LGBTQ community for illnesses like Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and PTSD is higher than the general population.
- Approximately 9 percent of the general population struggles with substance abuse. Approximately 30 percent of the LGBTQ population struggles with substance abuse.
- Many people who identity with as LGBTQ live with “minority stress,” a heightened level of anxiety that results from experiencing family rejection, prejudice, social exclusion, harassment, and abuse.
“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
LGBTQ people still live in a world where they can experience anything from abuse to tolerance to acceptance for simply being who they are. The toll of living in an unpredictable and often hostile world takes its toll. More and more, people who identify as LGBTQ are working with a mental health professional to find the healing, acceptance, and community that they need.
Thriveworks Counseling in Raleigh offers LGBTQ competent therapy. We understand the unique challenges our clients who identify as LGBTQ experiences, and we have walked with many as they come to self-acceptance and build a life upon that acceptance.
The Dual Stigma: Counseling for LGBTQ Communities
Making the decision to start therapy can be difficult for anyone, but those within the LGBTQ community face particular challenges. Up until 1973, the American Psychological Association officially categorized homosexuality as a pathology. Even though the official definitions have change, not all attitudes among mental health professionals have changed. Some still see sexual orientation or gender a problem to be fixed instead of a reality to be accepted. Thus, many of the people who need mental health care the most have the most difficult time finding a therapist who can offer informed care. This dynamic is so common that there is a name for it: the dual stigma.
The gap between need and quality of care is being closed, however. Many therapists and members of the LGBTQ community are working together. They are raising awareness about the need for mental health care and about how therapists can best provide that care. Thriveworks in Raleigh works hard to offer affirmative and sensitive care to our LGBTQ clients.
Affirmative and Sensitive Therapy
Every client is unique. Everyone has their own weaknesses and strengths, opportunities and challenges, traumas and triumphs, experiences and story. Whatever people have going on in their lives, they need a place where they can speak openly and honestly about their lives. They need a space where they feel safe and accepted. They need a space where judgement and shame have no role. In many ways, this therapeutic environment cannot be established without trust. As clients trust their therapist, they often are able to open up more and more. With trust established, clients may delve deeper and deeper into emotional and psychological wounds and find deeper and deeper healing. Many people use therapy to discuss issues such as…
- How and when to come out
- Healthy communication
- Dating and other relationships
- Dealing with discrimination and non-acceptance
- Past trauma and abuse
- Gender and sexual identity
- Anxiety and stress
- Eating disorders
- Transcending gender roles
- Family concerns
- Self-esteem issues
- Safety concerns
Therapy may repair psychological and emotional wounds. It may teach clients coping skills and healing strategies. It may also inspire people to reach for their dreams and make hard but important changes in their lives. Therapy may help an individual clarify their identity, values, and goals. It may empower them to build a life they love.
Scheduling an Appointment at Thriveworks in Raleigh for LGBTQ Sensitive Counseling
If you are considering reaching out for therapy, know that Thriveworks Counseling in Raleigh, NC has appointments available. Our therapists are licensed mental health professionals who are also sensitive and informed about the particular needs their LGBTQ clients may be experiencing. We want to help. We know that life is challenging, so we have made scheduling therapy as easy as possible. When you contact our office, a person (not a voicemail) will answer and help you make an appointment. You may be meeting with your counselor the following day. We also accept many insurance plans. Let’s work together. Call today.