LGBT competent counseling isn’t necessarily directly about being L or G or B or T… or Q or I or any other letters you can add there. Often issues in counseling are informed by how society has responded to these sexual identities; however, counseling starts with welcoming and valuing people first. My clients are people who want safety, security, acceptance and a sense of belonging. They are people who want to love and be loved openly.
Unjustly, living in our society as a sexual minority often means trying to create the illusion of fitting into a heterosexist society to be safe. This concealed stigma – the closet – is a safe, but stifling coping skill where risk of loss increases over time. The effect is social isolation of the true self, and the risks of exposure are high. Coming out of the closet could mean loss of a job, church, family, friends, child custody, even at times, wives and husbands. Depression and anxiety are responses that healthy people have when faced with these very real threats of loss and rejection. Some research suggests the depression and anxiety tied to concealed stigma is more harmful than to outright discrimination faced by ethnic and cultural minorities.
Other issues relating to sexual identity and orientation exist beyond the closet and discrimination. People struggle with histories of assault, trauma, AIDS, body image, relationships and intimacy, eating disorders, substance abuse, domestic violence, rape, cutting, and molestation histories. These issues are not present because of their sexual identity. They are only issues for therapy because bad things have happened to otherwise healthy people who want to live more free and fulfilled lives.
I work with gay individuals and couples in relationships. I have experience with helping transgender individuals at various stages of transition to find confidence and community.