LGBTQ+ AFFIRMING THERAPY
FOR ADULTS AND ADOLESCENTS
WHAT IS LGBTQ+ AFFIRMING THERAPY?
LGBTQ+ affirming therapy is an approach to working with gender and sexually diverse clients which affirms and supports their individual gender and sexual identity, gender expression as well as how these impact other areas of their lives. LGBTQ+ affirming therapy supports gender and sexually diverse clients in developing positive identity and self-esteem. It offers safe space to address the impact of the stress related to their minority status, experienced discrimination, and phobias. LGBTQ+ affirming therapy is aimed at empowering gender and sexually diverse clients and families to address generational, cultural, or value based differences which often give rise to conflict. LGBTQ+affirming therapy aims to support individual and family adjustment and health, developing effective coping skills and improving the quality of relationships.
WHY IS LGBTQ+ AFFIRMING THERAPY IMPORTANT?
It is a fact that social and cultural norms overwhelmingly favor heterosexual identity and practices. And whenever a person feels or desires something outside these norms, their life becomes more difficult. Being raised in tolerant homes, surrounded by supportive people, can be helpful in alleviating some of the challenges but the general expectations of society are apparent to anyone from birth onward. As such, individuals non-conforming to the social and cultural standards recognize rather early in life, that who they are and/or what they want in a partner is considered by many as unacceptable. This realization and lived experiences of discrimination are traumatic and generate sense of shame that many LGBTQ+ individuals carry. This manifests itself in higher than normal rates of substance abuse, self-harming behaviors, suicidal thinking and behavior among LGBTQ+ population. In LGBTQ+ affirming therapy acceptance and integration are considered key to healing and attaining authenticity. It supports LGBTQ+ individuals in feeling comfortable with who they are and whom or what they desire, thereby evolving into healthier human beings.
GOALS OF LGBTQ+ AFFIRMING THERAPY
In addition to each client's unique goals, LGBTQ+ affirming therapy attempts to accomplish the following:
Educating LGBTQ+ clients about heterosexism, and gender and sexual orientation phobia, and the manifestations of these biases can both in the client's external world and their internal self-image.
Educating LGBTQ+ clients about the ways in which shame originates, festers, and prevents them from living fully, authentically and happily
Exploring the self-awareness and “coming out” processes, including both positive and negative responses (both external, but internal)
Recognizing and discussing the various ways in which society and popular culture both affirm and devalue LGBTQ+ experiences
I AM A LGBTQ+ AFFIRMING THERAPIST
As an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, I adhere to the highest standards of both training, education and professional practices that enable me to work effectively with LGBTQ+ individuals. I recognize that my role as a therapist working with clients struggling with sexual orientation or gender identity is to help them understand and accept their thoughts, feelings, and desires as an integral and natural part of who they are. I recognize the discrimination, ridicule, and shame that LGBTQ+ clients may have experienced, and I understand how those hurtful external messages can become internalized and generate shame and sense of inadequacy and inferiority. My approach incorporates education, processing of LGBTQ+ experiences, and supporting a development of positive self-evaluation and acceptance.
I WORK WITH LGBTQ+ ADOLESCENTS TOO!
Adolescence is the time when young people begin to learn about the world, try to find their place in it and answer the question, “Who am I?” This stage is defined by identity exploration, trying out new experiences and experimenting with different roles or options. A vital developmental task of adolescence is becoming aware of, exploring and, at times, questioning one's sexuality along with the diverse areas related to it.
LGBTQ+ adolescents, just like their adult counterparts, often benefit from, and at time require, additional support in navigating the processes of exploration, discovery and affirmation of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Some young people may struggle to understand their sexual feelings, sexual orientation, gender identity, or whether, or not, they fit into any rigid social normative labels. Some adolescents may identify themselves as either male, female, transgender, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or they may feel their sexuality is fluid and refer to themselves as gender neutral, genderqueer or a gender.
Though establishing a strong and stable sense of personal identity, including sexual and gender identity, is associated with facets of healthy psychological functioning, this process can be also confusing, unsettling and uncomfortable. As a sex therapist, I can be of assistance by providing sensitive support, clear guidance and accurate information about different aspects of sexuality and identity formation.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with issues related to their sexual orientation or gender identity and could benefit from working with an LGBTQ+ affirming therapist, please contact me to book a free phone consultation.