Individuals in the LGBTQ community share many common issues, sometimes unrelated to their sexuality and identity. Often times, one might come to therapy with relationship issues, identity issues, self-esteem concerns, and more. Despite the reasons someone might come to therapy, it is important to know that the therapist will be supportive, compassionate, and accepting. The understanding behind LGBTQ Affirmative Therapy is that the therapist will be present with the client and provide a space that feels welcoming and comfortable. It is defined as the acknowledgment and acceptance of the person's sexual orientation and identity, working toward developing a better sense of self, building authenticity, and strengthening one’s voice.
Through LGBTQ Affirmative Therapy, a person can potentially navigate through their life in a more meaningful and constructive way to ultimately reach psychological fitness. Below are some components of LGBTQ Affirmative Therapy:
Creating a Safe Space
Creating a safe space is arguably the most important first step to therapy. LGBTQ individuals should not feel judged or unwelcomed in any place, especially not in therapy where individuals often disclose sensitive and confidential information. To create a safe space, it is important to be aware of one’s needs and wants prior to starting therapy. For example, some clients may prefer a male therapist or someone who is younger and less conservative. Once you are in the therapy room, it might be important to discuss preferred pronouns, special accommodations, and any other things that can contribute to creating a safe space. What seems to be most important to many clients is the trust and alliance that is built into the work. Although it can take time to build the trust and alliance, clients usually have a sense of it early on.
Harnessing a trusting environment is a key component to therapy. One must feel that they trust their therapist enough to disclose very personal and difficult issues. Some issues that LGBTQ Affirmative therapists might help with are:
· Relationship issues
· Intimacy concerns
· Coming out
· Gender and sexual identity
· Sexual orientation
· Confidence issues
These issues can often lead to negative feelings, so it is important that trust is built in therapy so that the focus can be on helping individuals deal with some of these concerns. A question you might ask yourself after seeing a therapist for a few sessions might be, “Do I feel comfortable with person?” and “Do I get the sense that this person understand my issues?”
Having an Ally
After establishing a safe space and building trust, the therapeutic relationship can hopefully become an alliance where the individual feels that they are supported, connected, and celebrated. Having an ally is an important component to therapy in order to address many of the issues above. By having an LGBTQ Affirmative therapist, the therapy can be catered to the individual’s specific needs and issues. Although individuals can work with any therapist, having a therapist who understands the issues that the LGBTQ community faces can result in a more validating and rewarding experience.
Are you looking for an LGBTQ Affirmative Therapist?
Lucas Saiter is a psychotherapist in New York City. He provides therapy for those struggling with intimacy/relationship issues, coming out, identity concerns, and more. He works in an office located near Flatiron, West Village, NoMad, Chelsea, and Union Square. If you are looking for an LGBTQ Affirmative therapist in NYC, contact him today for a complimentary phone consultation.