LGBTQIA+ AFFIRMATIVE THERAPY
Growing up queer you may have felt “othered,” different but didn’t know how to describe it or what it meant. It can feel lonely to not see anyone like you in your life, and it can be a hard road to navigate yourself. Maybe you feel like an imposter in your own body, or sadly you may have experienced rejection and discrimination which has built up shame, sadness, or anger that you’ve struggled to address.
The issues experienced by this community are as varied as the community itself. There is no monolithic (individual, singular, uniform) experience, so your struggles deserve to be treated as unique and will receive the utmost respect. Those who identify within this population tend to experience significantly higher rates of mental health issues than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. Add in being an LGBTQ+ person of color, and this tends to double or triple.
- Higher rates of depression
- Higher rates of anxiety
- Higher rates of substance use/abuse
- Higher rates of suicidal behavior and attempts
- Higher rates of self injurious behaviors
The reasons often include lack of family or support systems, stigma, discrimination, feeling confused or uncomfortable in your own body, rejection, not having anyone similar around you, and the political climate. Without adequate education and information, you may have developed harmful ways to cope with the challenges you’ve faced, and I’m here to help you start honoring and loving yourself for all that you are.
What is LGBT-Affirmative Psychotherapy?
Affirmative psychotherapy is one in which the client is affirmed and validated in who they say they are, not told who they should be or what label fits them best. Sadly, practices such as conversion therapy and past diagnostic manuals have categorized homosexuality and queerness as mental illnesses, and our society has struggled to move away from this. We have made great strides, and there’s still so much more work to be done. Affirmative psychotherapy strives to overcome this and works to validate a person for who they are without telling them to be anything or anyone different.
If you have undergone or been forced to participate in conversion therapy practices, let me start by apologizing on behalf of the mental health field for failing you so miserably. These practices can be traumatizing, shame inducing, and counterintuitive to helping someone. Not only do you now still have to work through embracing yourself as you, but you’re also tasked with processing the consequences of these practices. I can provide the space necessary to not only recover from this experience, but to move forward and live the life you always dreamt of, way before ever starting those sessions.
Where are you currently?
You may be someone who doesn’t know whether they are gay, or straight, or trans, or bisexual and may not have a safe person to explore this with. We can work together to uncover your true identity and get you out of confusion and into living confidently. You’ll be fully supported and guided to come to your own conclusions without judgment or expectation.
You may be someone who has come out and embraced themselves, yet still carries shame from the past or internalized biases or prejudices that make it hard for you to fully accept yourself. This can lead to relationship challenges, self hate, feelings of inadequacy, or leading a life in which you feel like an imposter. This can also cause disconnection between yourself and the people you surround yourself with. You’ll be supported as you explore the roots of this and release these limiting beliefs, soften the sword of shame, and cultivate loving kindness and compassion for yourself and those around you.
Perhaps you’re in a same-sex relationship, or a polyamorous relationship, or an open relationship, or you’re not quite sure what you’re in, but you know you aren’t happy. Every relationship experiences bumps, but there are some issues and challenges that are unique to those within the LGBTQ+ community. It’s helpful to speak with someone who can not only speak to these experiences, but knows effective ways of work through them.
Trans individuals actually face the most discrimination, suffer the most mentally, emotionally, and physically, and are some of the least supported individuals in our society. It can feel incredibly lonely to not only feel like you’re in the wrong body, but to also feel like you have no one to share this with. Let me provide a space that is affirming, open-minded, and validating as we work to increase your resilience, confidence, and courage to live outside as who you feel you are on the inside.
I’m still a minor...
I’ve worked with many clients who are minors and are trying to understand and embrace their identity. Sometimes their parents haven’t been the most supportive. Even as a minor, you still have rights to confidentiality in treatment. You will not only develop an understanding of yourself, but also learn the skills necessary to come out and I can help coach your parents afterwards. This isn’t a process you should have to feel alone in; it’s a journey that is meant to be celebrated, not hidden in shame or ignored.