If you self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or another part of the LGBT spectrum, you may still struggle with self-acceptance. Even with the advent of legalized same-sex marriage and other LGBT victories, there is still a strong societal stigma against certain facets of the LGBT community, and this—combined with social conditioning from birth—can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Fortunately, today's psychologists and therapists are often specially trained to deal with mental health issues common among members of the LGBT community. Read on to learn more about the practice of LGBT-affirming psychotherapy.
What Is LGBT-Affirming Psychotherapy?
This is a form of psychotherapy targeted specifically at those who identify somewhere on the LGBT spectrum and is designed to work toward authenticity and self-acceptance. Unlike "conversion therapy" or other types of therapy that treat gay or lesbian self-identity as a mental illness that must be treated or "cured", LGBT-affirming psychotherapy focuses on accepting your own sexuality and learning what this means for you as a person.
Not all who identify as LGBT feel free to act on their desires. Religious beliefs, marriage, and other factors can prevent LGBT individuals from entering into a relationship with someone of their preferred (or one of their preferred) gender(s). For example, someone who identifies as bisexual but who is in a monogamous relationship or marriage with an opposite-sex person may have to put their same-sex attraction on the back burner. LGBT-affirming psychotherapy can provide this individual with some approaches and mantras that can help them feel as though they no longer need to remain "in the closet."
What Can You Expect From a Therapy Session?
Each psychotherapy session is different, and the path your sessions will take will largely depend on the issues you're wishing to resolve or the outcome you hope to achieve from therapy. It can be useful to outline some therapy goals before your first session and check up on your progress before and after each subsequent session. Some of the topics and tools that can be explored in LGBT-affirming therapy include boosting self-awareness, committing to self-honesty, and exploring sexual desires in a constructive and healthy way. If you've not yet revealed your sexual orientation to family members or others who are close to you, your therapist can help you get started on the process (if you wish to "come out") or give you some things to consider before you open yourself up to the world.
For more information, contact a therapist like Jim Brillon.