Wondering if LGBTQ counseling is right for you? We’ll guide you through everything you’ll need to know about LGBTQ counseling to help you make the best decision.
What Is Meant by LGBTQ+?
LGBTQ+ is a term used to encompass individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, and plus other sexual identities. It evolved from its previous acronym, ‘LGBT,’ to be inclusive of those who may not fall into the five former initials.
This may include those who identify with sexual identities like pansexual, two-spirit, pangender, bigender, genderqueer, and more. It is always evolving, but the goal of using an acronym to encompass all sexual identities helps people refer to the community with respect. Other terms like “queer community” and “rainbow community” are also acceptable to use.
When Should an LGBTQ Person Seek Counseling?
While society has come a long way to accept all sexual identities, there are still many challenges that LGBTQ people face. A person’s sexual or romantic orientation or their gender identification may not be a source of concern, but the social stigma of belonging to a minority population often causes many to seek counseling. Here are some common situations that may make LGBTQ members consider counseling:
- Trouble coming out and/or gaining acceptance from family members over their sexual orientation
- Questioning or seeking clarity on their sexual or romantic orientation
- Transgender individuals seeking guidance with making a decision to transition or experiencing a gender transition
- Difficulty overcoming and managing societal discrimination
- Coping with sexual-identity related trauma
- Depressive symptoms related to sexual orientation and identity
How Can Counseling Help an LGBTQ Person?
Whether one seeks counseling for gender-related stress or general life stress, it’s helpful to work with a counselor who is knowledgeable about experiences unique to members of the LGBTQ community.
Counseling can help LGBTQ people in 3 key areas:
- To work on resolving life conflicts
- To develop realistic and achievable goals
- To understand stresses that contribute to symptoms
For people of the LGBTQ community, counseling can help understand how their sexual orientation intertwines with all aspects of their life and even relates to present problems that may not seem directly related to their sexual orientation.
How Can CBT Be Applied to Help in LGBTQ Counseling
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a helpful way to address the unique emotional challenges a person may face to improve their overall mental health. In LGBTQ counseling, this may pertain to experiences that may result from gender and sexuality including discrimination, bullying, trouble building confidence, and trouble maintaining healthy relationships. CBT will work with individuals to challenge and change their attitudes towards their behaviors and thoughts to better help regulate emotions, developing strategies to solve their current problems.
How Do I Find an LGBTQ Therapist?
While many therapists may be qualified to work with LGBTQ individuals, it sometimes puts people at ease to know they are working with someone who understands and has experience addressing the distinct challenges of the LGBTQ community.
Dr. Shoemaker is trained to provide LGBTQ counseling to help clients with religious, healthcare, or background challenges. She understands what your rights are and the nuances of communicating with family and friends.