LGBT Issues & Counseling
Many individuals who identify with the LGBT spectrum are wary of therapists and psychology in general, and with good reason. Up until 1973, the DSM catergorized homosexuality as a mental illness.
Thankfully, the field of psychology has made great strides since then in affirmative therapy practices, underpinned by a belief in the acceptability of same-sex sexualities and a thorough understanding of the nature, dynamics, and challenges of same sex relationships.
At Symmetry Counseling, we are firm believers and practitioners of LGBT affirmative therapies, and are sensitive to the diversity of issues one may face as a lesbian woman, gay man, bisexual or transgender individual.
The term “coming out” implies a before and after; in reality, coming out is a process that happens over and over again in different contexts and can be fraught with anxiety each time. The decision of how and when, or even if, to reveal your sexuality to friends, family, coworkers, and community members can be both terrifying and incredibly freeing.
Healthy familial support is important to our well-being. However, many families struggle with a child or a loved one coming out, and research shows that young adults who are in the coming out process are in danger of bullying and abuse not only among their peers, but at home as well.
Families may have to come to terms with what it means to have a family member or loved one come out as LGBT, and may need to challenge previously held negative stereotypes and beliefs about the LGBT community. Parents in particular may struggle to cope with what they perceive as a loss of dreams they had for their child’s future, such as marriage and family.
While marriage and children are still very possible, it may occur differently than they had imagined. It may take time for family members to understand and view the possibilities of your life with a new lens.
While there is an enormous amounts of scholarship on heterosexual relationships, the research for same sex relationships is still growing. Of course, men and women in same sex relationships often encounter the same hurdles that straight couples do, including issues with communication and conflict, finances, trust, fidelity, and intimacy.
However, same sex couples may also face additional hurdles, including dealing with prejudice and discrimination, as well as navigating the legal hurdles surrounding marriage, partnership, and parenthood.
Marriage and Family
Same sex marriage is currently legal in six states plus Washington DC, with many ongoing legal battles elsewhere. Same sex couples often must go to great lengths to secure medical and health benefits for their loved ones, may face discrimination in trying to adopt, and in some cases, have had previously held legal rights and benefits rescinded.
All of these have the potential to cause great amount of distress and anxiety in same sex couples and families.
Individuals in the process of coming out often feel isolated and alone. Building a social network of supportive friends and organizations can greatly improve one’s health and happiness as they navigate life openly.
Furthermore, connecting family members and friends to organizations such as PFLAG can greatly improve their understanding and ability to provide support.