Culturally, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning community has made great strides recently toward equality. Cultural icons have made headway in changing attitudes. With charm and humor, TV shows like Will and Grace have brought people’s attention to the difficulties the LGBTQ community face. Cam Tucker and Mitchell Pritchett on Modern Family have modeled a loving couple and caring parents for all to see. Ellen has used her influential voice to promote kindness and inclusion. Important legal strides have also been made for equality and human rights, especially regarding marriage. However, there is much more work to do. Members of the LGBTQ community still face discrimination and burdens that are too much to bear. Consider these dynamics:
- Members of the LGBTQ community are diagnosed with mental health problems (for example, major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder) are rates three times higher than the general population.
- Substance abuse rates within the LGBTQ community are around 30 percent, while they are approximately 9 percent for the general population.
- Many people who identify as LGBTQ report having to deal with “minority stress.” They face prejudice, family rejection, social exclusion, abuse, and harassment just for being who they are. Often times, their human rights are also denied.
- Suicide is a leading cause of death for LGBTQ youth, ages 10-14. These young people experience more instances of fear, prejudice, bullying, and hatred than their straight and cis-gendered peers.
The steps forward should be celebrated, but the challenges that the LGBTQ continues to face should not be minimized. Marginalization and discrimination are still regular parts of life as a LGBTQ person, and prejudice exacts a big price.
Thriveworks Sterling offers counseling and therapy that is sensitive to the unique experiences of people within the LGBTQ community. Mental health care, unfortunately, mirrors the general population—some therapists are inclusive and others are not. At Thriveworks Sterling, our goal is to be a part of the solution, offering informed and sensitive care that gives members of the LGBTQ community the support they need.
What Does LGBTQ Affirmative Therapy Look Like?
Even in the 1970s, the mental health profession officially saw homosexuality as a pathological disorder. To its great shame, many counselors and therapists labeled people who were just being themselves. Although the field has officially changed its position, the history of discrimination overshadows some who work in mental health care. Many counselors and therapist fail to understand the mental health challenges that members of the LGBTQ community experience and provide adequate care. This dynamic is so prevalent that is has a name: the dual stigma. That is, members of the LGBTQ community experience more mental health problems, but they also have more difficulty finding an affirming therapist who supports their gender and sexuality.
Understandably, many members of the LGBTQ community are hesitant to seek mental health care when they are experiencing anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and more. Thriveworks Sterling hopes to erase the double stigma, and more and more, our LGBTQ clients are finding the informed and sensitive care they deserve.
“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
While each individual has unique needs and faces unique circumstances, LGBTQ affirmative counseling often helps people address topics such as:
- How and when to come out
- Dealing with discrimination and non-acceptance
- Healthy communication
- Gender and sexual identity
- Dating and other relationships
- Transcending gender roles
- Eating disorders
- Self-esteem issues
- Anxiety and stress
- Family concerns
- Safety concerns
- Past trauma and abuse
The therapists at Thriveworks Sterling know that any therapeutic relationship is based upon trust. Our staff works hard to create a space where clients are heard, they experience empathy, and their stories are respected. As trust grows between a therapist and a client, they often feel safe to delve deeper and deeper, addressing questions such as…
- What are your living circumstances like? Do you feel safe there?
- How did you come to the decision to start therapy?
- What energizes and excited you?
- If you could change something about your circumstances, what would it be?
- What are your relationships like? With your significant other? Family? Friends?
- Where do you about for your life, professionally and personally?
Therapy has the stereotype image of an individual lying on a couch, recounting all the challenges in their life while a counselor takes furious notes. This image is not completely accurate, but it is not completely wrong either. Therapy is often a safe place where people can talk openly and honestly about the challenges in their lives. Seeing life’s difficulties for what they are is often the first step in overcoming them.
Appointments at Thriveworks Sterling for LGBTQ Inclusive Therapy
Do you want to meet with a counselor about the challenges in your life? If so, consider reaching out to Thriveworks Sterling. We have appointments available. When you contact our office, a scheduling specialist will answer your call and help you make an appointment. New clients regularly have their first appointment within 24 hours. Many types of insurance plans are accepted, and we offer weekend and evening sessions. Call Thriveworks Sterling today.