Therapy for LGBTQ Clients
As a member of the LGBTQ community, I'm very aware of the challenges of finding a therapist who is respectful and affirming. I know what it's like to search for someone to talk with who understands my situation. I've had therapists who seemed nice and tried very hard to be accepting but still seemed to have issues with my "lifestyle". I've also been to therapists who, with the best of intentions, try to fix something that I don't think needs to be fixed, or just don't understand why something is a problem for me. Therapists might be very sympathetic but that doesn't go very far if they can't relate. I know that it can be uncomfortable talking with some therapists about things like sex or desires if you're uncomfortable yourself and worried that they're uncomfortable.
Even if a therapist cares deeply, it's hard avoid personal reactions or agendas for clients, particularly when they can't relate in some way to the client's situation.
There are cultural issues that affect our community in particular. Prejudice, phobias, subtle messages from the media or our families put pressure on us in ways that are not always apparent to those outside our group. Our identities don't develop in a vacuum and the awareness of the influences (positive and negative) is important.
My personal experience and my training in Narrative Therapy (which has a focus on issues such as identity and social justice) have helped me to be more aware of what gets in the way of people being able to be themselves. Our cis-gender hetero-normative culture that's dominated by straight white males means that it can feel like there is no room for our stories -- that are different from the dominant story. Making my clients aware of how culture and family affect how we feel about ourselves is important, especially when clients frequently seem to blame themselves for arbitrary and absurd cultural standards. If this relates to what clients bring to to therapy it is important to point it out.
I want to help you write and find comfort with the story of who you are, separate from what the culture or your family have decided for you.
I work hard to be affirming and accepting of all clients regardless of gender or orientation. I'm a sex positive therapist and I respect that we all have different desires as well as different levels of desire. When you bring an issue to therapy, it's my responsibility to make sure that we focus on the issue that you bring and not something that I'm deciding is an issue.
These are some of the issues that affect many of my clients but may be particularly revelevant to those in the LGBTQ communities:
Internalized Phobias - self-hating phobias such as transphobia or homophobia that we have learned from our family or culture.
Cultural pressures - what does the culture say is normal / abnormal? What do our family stories say about what is ok or not?
Micro-inequalities - biases in our every day lives that are so common that we don't notice them unless we look for them. Things like rarely seeing positive role models in the media, or seeing people who look like us being mistreated, or the negative expression on the face of the grocery clerk, or hearing phobic language that is in movies and has become part of popular culture.
Discrimination - religion, work, media, daily lives.
Role models and mentors - Positive role models are often hard to find and rarely shown in the media. Learning by example is harder when you can't find examples.
Boxes - feeling like no matter what "box" you try, you don't feel like you fit.
Self-image / congruence - how we see ourselves or want to. Does what we see on the outside match how we feel on the inside? Are we acting in different ways to be accepted?
What issues are getting in your way? I would be happy to talk with you about these and other issues. Please contact me to schedule a free consultation.