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 Wilmington, NC 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.
The Olympics often embody what is right and what is wrong with the world, and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang were no different. What is right with the world? USA teammates Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy competed as openly gay athletes. Rippon became the first gay winter Olympian to medal. Kenworthy shared about competing in the previous Olympics in the closet, “It pushed me to this place where I needed to come out and I’m so happy that I did. To take that step meant a lot for me and for my mental well-being.” They both used their spotlight to highlight the need for more understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ+ athletes. Many cheered them on in their competitions and in their advocacy. Without a doubt, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or Questioning community is experiencing more and more understanding and acceptance. Without a doubt, there is still more work to do. Just as the Olympics illustrated the positive change, it also illustrated the need for further change. Rippon and Kenworthy received a lot of love and support, but they also spoken privately to many closeted athletes who would not receive the same love and support. Instead, if these came out, they would face discrimination and abuse. There is clearly more work to do. Consider these realities that are a part of many people’s lives:
- Those in the LGBTQ+ community experience a rate of mental illness that is double that of straight and cis-gendered communities (for example, illnesses like PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Addiction).
- Suicide is a leading cause of death for LGBTQ+ youth ages 10-24.
- LGBTQ+ individuals often live with “minority stress”—a heightened anxiety that can result from experiencing abuse, harassment, prejudice, social exclusion, and/or family rejection.
Self-awareness and self-acceptance are difficult but important practices for mental health, but LGBTQ+ people often have a more challenging road to these than others. Everyone deserves support and love for being who they are. Everyone deserves a safe place to process their lives, and the mental health professionals at Thriveworks Wilmington, NC are committed to support their LGBTQ+ clients on their journey to self-awareness and self-acceptance. Our office provides LGBTQ+ Friendly Counseling.
How Can LGBTQ+ Friendly Counseling Help?
The mental health care community has not always promoted self-understanding and self-acceptance for LGBTQ+ clients. In fact, it was not until 1973 that the American Psychological Association changed its definition of homosexuality as a pathology. The definition may have changed, but attitudes lagged behind. Those in the LGBTQ+ community may be in need of mental health care, but they may also have difficulty finding capable care. This is called The Dual Stigma. Some therapists may pathologize their clients for their gender and sexual orientation instead of helping them come to a place of self-acceptance.
Many in the LGBTQ+ community and the mental health community are fighting The Dual Stigma. Therapists are educating themselves on the type of care that their LGBTQ+ clients need and giving them competent care. If you are thinking about going to therapy, know that capable counselors are available. Here are a few tips for finding them:
- When you call to make an appointment, directly inquire about whether the therapist has worked with LGBTQ+ clients in the past. It is okay to ask for examples.
- Follow your gut. Pay attention to your intuition. If the questions are not answered to your satisfaction, move onto another therapist. If you feel safe, consider scheduling an appointment.
- In an appointment, explicitly express to your therapist that LGBTQ+ friendly treatment is a priority for you.
- As you feel safe, let your counselor know whatever you want them to know about your gender or sexual orientation.
- As you feel safe, let your counselor know whatever you want them to know about your experiences—abuse, trauma, challenges, and more.
- The primary goal of any therapy is emotional and psychological healing. No list could contain all the psychological wounds that may need to be healing or the current challenges that could be resolved in therapy. However, “LGBTQ+ Counseling commonly addresses the emotional and psychological symptoms that occur as a result of the social stigma attached to living in a minority population, like discrimination, rejection, bullying, and victimization,” explains Jaimie Orndorff, a Licensed Psychologist at our Wilmington office. “Counseling can address sexual, romantic, or gender identity issues but these aren’t always an area of concern,” she says. Here is a longer list of issues that might be addressed in LGBTQ+ counseling:
- Safety concerns
- Healthy communication
- Dealing with discrimination and non-acceptance
- Gender and sexual identity
- Dating and other relationships
- How and when to come out
- Transcending gender roles
- Family concerns
- Eating disorders
- Anxiety and stress
- Self-esteem issues
- Past trauma and abuse
The foundation of a healing, therapeutic relationship is trust. When clients trust that the therapist will not judge or shame them, they can dive deep into healing. Everyone needs a safe place, and everyone needs to be known and accepted for who they are.
Setting Up an Appointment at Thriveworks in Wilmington, NC for LGBTQ+ Friendly Counseling
“Anyone experiencing mental health symptoms related to LGBTQ+ issues or negatively affected by those around them facing this social stigma should consider getting help from a counselor,” says Orndorff. “You can also find online sources of support or in-person support groups to connect with others facing similar challenges.”
If mental health care is the right next step for you, know that the therapists at Thriveworks in Wilmington, NC are ready to walk with you. When you call our office, you will not be sent to an automated response or a voicemail. Scheduling specialists answer our phones and help our clients make their appointments. New clients often have their first session within 24 hours of their first call. Weekend and evening sessions are offered, but we do not keep a waitlist (so you will never be put on one). We also worked with many different insurance companies so that we can accept many different insurance plans. Let’s work together. Call Thriveworks in Wilmington, NC today.