July 11, 2022
Benefits of LGBTQ+ Counseling & Exploring Sexual Orientation Through Therapy
Written by Rachel Eddins
Much of the world has become a more tolerant place for LGBTQ+ individuals to exist. However, despite the victories achieved, there are still plenty of challenges that people who identify as anything other than straight and cisgender face.
One of the many roadblocks that exist for LGBTQ+ people is the ability to receive equitable healthcare. This includes counseling and mental health services.
As unfortunate as it is, there are still stigmas in the medical community that can be devastating for LGBTQ+ people to experience when they’re in need of help.
Plenty of individuals have had therapists who harp on why the person’s gender identity or sexual orientation exists. Even worse, the bias of these professionals emboldens them to try persuading the patient or client to attempt unhealthy, impossible changes to “correct” identities they look down upon.
A counselor who is inexperienced or insensitive to LGBTQ+ issues can do more harm than good for individuals who are seeking support, self-acceptance, and the confidence to live their best possible lives.
For this and many other reasons, LGBTQ+ individuals often seek LGBTQ friendly therapists, counselors, and other professionals or happen to be LGBTQ+ themselves.
Let’s explore a few of the greatest benefits of LGBTQ+ counseling services.
LGBTQ+ Counseling is A Safe, Secure Environment
In numerous medical scenarios, it can feel like a significant risk to discuss LGBTQ+ issues with therapists and counselors. After all, the individual involved often does not know how the provider is going to react, what preconceived beliefs they carry with them into their practice, or how providing this information is going to impact their care from that moment onward.
Mental health professionals who specialize in LGBTQ+ counseling create warm, welcoming environments and professional relationships built on trust and respect. Knowing that a provider understands and values the individual can start services off on the right foot.
The Therapist’s Real-Life Experience
Studies that a counselor had to complete in order to receive licensure cover a myriad of unique situations, cultures, identities, and traumas. While educational experience is something that everyone wants in a counselor or therapist, an LGBTQ+ individual may find it easier to share their thoughts and feelings with someone who knows from experience where they’re coming from.
An LGBTQ+ therapist may have lived at least some of the experiences the client struggles with firsthand. Having either gone through these experiences personally or witnessed the experiences as they occurred in a loved one’s life can add a level of equality between individuals seeking help and the counselors they visit.
Being on the same page as one’s provider and knowing that this person truly understands how the individual feels and thinks about the situations in their lives can be an immense benefit when it comes to fostering a positive professional relationship.
Education & Resource Provision
Professionals who work specifically within the LGBTQ+ counseling field have the educational requirements needed to administer effective care, but these counselors and therapists often have a wealth of knowledge about the resources available to LGBTQ+ clients.
For example, counselors often collect and evaluate information regarding local and national groups and programs so that they can pass the right resource to the right client. LGBTQ friendly therapists can often provide educational material and resource information that cover needs outside the counseling office, including:
- Preventing and/or addressing workplace discrimination
- Affordable, friendly healthcare services
- LGBTQ+ community organizations
- Resources to deal with bullying
- Sexual health and safety information
- Coming out and family acceptance
- Preventing LGBTQ+ homelessness
- Extensive mental health services
- Legal Aid
Effective Care in LGBTQ+ Relationship Counseling
Couples of all identities and orientations experience struggles when it comes to keeping a relationship happy and healthy. However, for LGBTQ+ relationships, there may be nuances that some therapists (who primarily see heterosexual, cisgender couples) might not understand.
For example, gender dysphoria, intolerant families, shame imposed on one or more parties, and family planning is best approached from a place of experience for LGBT+ relationship counseling.
Every couple wants to be treated with fairness and respect, but for some therapists who are inexperienced with the dynamics of LGBTQ+ relationships, this attempt at equal treatment translates to viewing LGBTQ+ couples through the same lens as heterosexual couples.
While equality is the goal, this approach makes it easy to ignore the intricacies and unique features of an LGBTQ+ relationship. This can leave couples feeling misunderstood, disappointed, and even alienated by the therapist.
Professionals who specialize in LGBTQ+ counseling, including the treatment of couples, are generally more equipped to examine and develop an understanding of the way the relationship works for each person involved. This extra step enables counselors and LGBTQ+ couples to stay on the same page in terms of addressing concerns, fostering healthy communication, and creating plans for improvement.
BIPOC-Specific LGBTQ Counseling & Support
It can be challenging for LGBTQ+ individuals and couples to find adequate support in terms of healthcare and counseling services in general. Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) experience additional barriers when seeking support. As such, it’s extremely important for these individuals, couples, and families to have access to therapists and counselors who understand the additional struggles they face.
For both LGBTQ+ youth and adults of color, there exists a concerning rate of challenges to their mental and physical wellbeing. Many BIPOC individuals struggle to trust the medical community due to inadequate treatment during prior visits, and further still, many do not have access to regular care.
Finding The Right BIPOC Counselor & LGBTQ Therapist in Texas
With this in mind as well as the plethora of cultural and familial circumstances that LGBTQ+ people of color contend with, finding a therapist who meets their needs can feel overwhelming.
LGBTQ+ therapists can provide immense value by creating a safe environment for individuals they see, expressing a clear understanding of the specific elements in the individual’s life, and approaching treatment that takes the individual’s life and identity into consideration.
Finding the right LGBTQ friendly therapist or counselor can be a lengthy process for anybody. Sometimes the first one you come across is not always going to be the right fit immediately. With the added need to find a professional who is experienced in caring for LGBTQ+ clients, the road ahead can seem insurmountable.
Fortunately, there are more and more LGBTQ+ therapists in the field today than ever before. Beginning your search for LGBTQ+ counseling with this in mind will likely gain more positive results.
Research your options and when you feel ready to take the first step, contact an LGBTQ+ counselor in your area (or online) to begin your journey toward becoming a healthier, happier, more confident version of who you are today.
Exploring Your Sexual Orientation in LGBTQ+ Counseling in Houston, TX
There’s nothing unusual about exploring one’s sexual orientation.
However, it can be tricky and lonely to engage in such exploration on your own. It’s tricky because there are so many cultural and personal factors acting upon your thought process. When tackling this alone, you may feel confused about what is real and what is conditioning.
It’s lonely because you’re in the middle of a major process without someone to trust and talk with. For all of these reasons, countless people choose to explore their orientation through therapy.
Sexual Orientation vs. Gender Identity
Before moving forward, let’s clear up some terms that often get mixed up. Gender identity is your own personal sense of what gender you are—often beyond the standard binary. Sexual orientation is a term used to define to whom you feel attraction (sexual, romantic, etc.). These terms can overlap at times, but they are not interchangeable.
For the record, “sexual preference” is also frequently substituted for sexual orientation. The speaker usually means the same thing; however, sexual preference adds to the confusion. There is no longer widespread acceptance of this assumption of choice.
Some Sex-Related Issues Often Addressed in Therapy
- Sexual abuse
- Sexual trauma
- Gender dysphoria/transitioning
- Painful sex
- Sex and/or porn addiction
- Sexual performance (e.g., when getting aroused or achieving orgasm is a problem)
- Low libido
- Confusion about sexual orientation
Therapy Can Help You Explore Your Sexual Orientation
- Your therapy session is the safe space you’ve been looking for. No topic is off-limits, and you will not be judged.
- A therapist is well-positioned to guide you through the underlying layers of outside influence that have been constructed since early childhood.
- You can talk openly about what excites you—in a sexual and romantic sense.
- You can share your fantasies and dreams. This can feel liberating for you. For your therapist, it gives them a window into your history and into your heart.
- As touched on above, there is endless dogma passed off as fact. Inevitably, you are impacted by it and coerced into viewing certain choices as right or wrong. Therapy can clear away much of this conditioning to create room for you to more clearly identify who you are.
The basic premise here is that client and therapist develop a feeling of mutual trust. This lays a strong foundation for some very detailed exchanges. We live in a society that enforces its “norms.” To feel you do not fit in can be alienating, isolating, and frightening. Your therapy sessions are where you can let down your guard and open up.
LGBTQ+ Counseling Can Also Help You When You Decide to Come Out
When you’ve identified and accepted your sexual orientation, you may face the next major step of coming out. This can be a multi-faceted effort. You’ll likely have different groups of people (family, friends, co-workers, etc.) to whom you’ll come out.
All of the above factors offered by therapy will benefit you here, e.g., safe space, challenging societal and personal conditioning, etc. Therapy can also be helpful when dealing with a wide range of reactions to coming out.
There have been countless positive changes in the world. Unfortunately, this still doesn’t make exploring your sexual orientation feel easy. That’s why so many people commit to seeing a therapist when taking such huge steps. Remember, you are not alone, and help is available.
Are You Ready to Start LGBTQ+ Counseling in Houston, Texas?
At Eddins Counseling Group we provide LGBTQ+ Counseling in Houston, Sugar Land, or virtually in several states including Texas, Florida, and California. In addition to LGBT+ relationship counseling. Our LGBTQ therapists are here to provide you with a safe space to open up, explore your sexual orientation, and support your mental health. To get started follow these simple steps:
- Reach out to talk to a Client Care Coordinator at Eddins Counseling Group
- Schedule your first appointment with an LGBTQ friendly therapist
- Gain confidence and pride in your identity.
Other Services At Eddins Counseling Group in Texas
Our caring therapists offer several mental health services for children, teens, and adults. Such as anxiety treatment, depression treatment, trauma therapy, and PTSD treatment. As well as stress management, postpartum support, relationship counseling, family therapy, and so much more! Our counseling is offered in person at our Montrose, Houston, and Sugar-Land, TX-based therapy practices. In addition to online in Texas, Florida, California, Indiana, Alabama, Illinois, and Washington.
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