Without a doubt, many cultural and legal advances have been made for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender, queer, or questioning. The United States sent two openly gay athletes to the 2018 Olympics, and Adam Rippon became the first gay man to win a medal at the winter Olympics. Recent legal victories have paved the way for marriage equality and other human rights of the LGBTQ community. While many advances have been made, without a doubt, there is room to grow. People who identify at LGBTQ still face discrimination, abuse, and marginalization just for being themselves. There is a steep price for this stigmatization, and the LGBTQ community has higher rates of depression, anxiety, and addiction than cis-gendered, straight communities.
“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
Emotional health requires freedom to be oneself. That means being honest about what you like and do not like. That means acknowledging your weaknesses and strengths. It also means being true to one’s sexuality and gender. For those in the LGBTQ community, there are particular challenges that others do not face. The therapists at Thriveworks Counseling in Westborough offer LGBTQ informed therapy. We understand the unique challenges that people who identify as LGBTQ face as they fight for mental health and self-acceptance.
LGBTQ Informed Counseling
Living in freedom and self-acceptance is important, but it is not easy. Other people may not be supportive. Sometimes, worst part is the internal confusion. These are difficult but normal challenges. It is important to know that the therapists at Thriveworks Westborough work hard to make a safe space for their clients. Everyone needs a place where they do not feel shame or judgment—a place where they can question, dream, remember, plan, and speak. Therapy is often that place, and in safety, often a strong sense of self and self-acceptance can grow. Those who identify as LGBTQ often need extra support in that process because they are facing particular challenges.
People in the LGBTQ community are up against an unfair and untrue stigma that is unfortunately very real. This stigma takes an emotional and psychological toll. It is the stress of living with harassment, rejection, and discrimination that others do not have to face. This toll translates into real-world impact. For example, those within the LGBTQ community …
- Experience substance abuse at a rate of 30 percent while straight and cis-gendered populations experience substance abuse at a rate of 9 percent.
- Report living with “minority stress.” They often experience a heightened anxiety because they face more abuse, prejudice, harassment, denial of their human rights, social exclusion, and family rejection.
- Who are age 10-24 experience more bullying, fear, hatred, and prejudice in their homes and school as compared to their peers.
- Are diagnosed with mental disorders like generalized anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder three times more than other populations.
- Suicide is a leading cause of death for LGBTQ youth.
These sobering statistics are only part of the story. When members of the LGBTQ community reach out for mental health care, they also must navigate a “dual stigma.” That is, the mental health field has not always been inclusive of people who identify as LGBTQ. Before 1973, the American Psychological Association categorized homosexuality as a disorder. While it is true that they changed their position, it is also true that attitudes have lagged behind the change. Not all therapists are inclusive or informed about the unique mental health needs of those in the LGBTQ community.
Social and cultural context matters to people’s mental health and given this history, many people who identify as LGBTQ are skeptical of mental health professionals. Many within the mental health community are working with members of the LGBTQ community to earn back trust both between the two communities and between individual therapists and individual clients. More and more, people who identify as LGBTQ are receiving the mental health care they deserve.
What does it mean for counselors to give their clients LGBTQ informed care? The professionals at Thriveworks believe that the key is building trust with their clients. Everyone needs a place where they can speak their reality, process their experiences, and be heard without fear or judgment or shame. Our therapists work hard to understand the pain that abuse, discrimination, and harassment have caused. That pain needs to be honored. As the pain heals, new dreams will arise. Those dreams also need to be honored. That is the positive aspect of therapy—building a life each client wants to live.
Each client sets the pace of counseling, but often, clients who identify as LGBTQ want to talk about:
- Dealing with discrimination and non-acceptance
- “Coming out” issues
- Anxiety and stress
- Family concerns
- Dating and other relationships
- Eating disorders
- Gender and sexual identity
- Healthy communication
- Past trauma and abuse
- Transcending gender roles
- Self-esteem issues
- Safety concerns
Appointments at Thriveworks in Westborough for LGBTQ Informed Counseling
If you are ready to meet with a therapist who will respect who you are, then the professionals at Thriveworks Counseling in Westborough are ready to meet with you. When you contact our office, you may have your first appointment within 24 hours. We offer evening and weekend sessions. We also accept many different insurance plans. Call today.