What Is LGBTQ Counseling?
LGBTQ is an acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, or questioning. Individuals that identify as LGBTQ are often subject to hate crimes (e.g., physical and/ or emotional abuse, threats, public humiliation, etc.), sexual orientation discrimination, and/ or rejection from loved ones. The Human Rights Campaign asserts that LGBTQ youth are more likely to face bullying, interpersonal violence, and have a 120% higher risk of homelessness than those that identify as cisgender, heterosexual teens.
There are different reasons why a young person may pursue counseling, and a variety of benefits to LGBTQ counseling (e.g., help with exploring gender identity or expression, exploring sexual orientation, identifying, and managing depression and/ or anxiety, navigating bullying or discrimination, etc.). It is not uncommon for members of the LGBTQ community to seek counseling for gender dysphoria. The Mayo Clinic explains that “gender dysphoria is a feeling of discomfort or distress that might occur in people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth or sex-related physical characteristics.” Gender dysphoria is not a mental illness, however, the disconnect that occurs between a teenager’s assigned sex at birth and one’s internal sense of self can result in undue pain and distress. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) includes gender dysphoria, solely for the purpose of providing a diagnostic term to enable access to care. Hence, a person that obtains a diagnosis of gender dysphoria will have access to insurance coverage that accommodates mental health counseling, including gender-affirming care.
Every teenager is different and not all types of counseling will resonate with each teen. Working with mental health clinicians that have received training and are familiar with the needs of LGBTQ members are better equipped to provide ample, tailored support. It is common practice for clinicians to integrate LGBTQ affirmative therapy into any treatment plan when working with a young person that identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community. LGBT affirmative therapy is a form of psychotherapy used to “validate and advocate for the needs of sexual and gender minority clients.” It can help empower a teen to learn to effectively navigate the unique challenges associated with being a member of the LGBTQ community.
For Information and Support
Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life in, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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