Many individuals whose sexual and/or gender identity fall outside the norms and expectations of the greater heterosexual cisgender populous continue to face prejudice and discrimination. Many LGBTQ+ individuals continue to endure hardship and intolerance from within their families of origin, their places of work and school, and from various political and religious factions who openly condemn LGBTQ+ members. The impact of this cannot be underestimated.
Since the Stonewall Riots pushed the conversation of LGBTQ+ rights and freedoms into the conversation of political and social mainstream, many advances have been made in terms of acceptance and equality. However, for many of its people, identifying as LGBTQ+ can still have dire consequences. Despite the progress made, by no means have members of this community been granted full acceptance with open arms.
Hearing the message over and over again that their sexuality and/or gender identity is wrong, or bad, or inferior in some way, leads to feelings of internalized homophobia and/or internalized gender phobia. This felt sense of shame leads to a diminished sense of self-identity and self-worth, which can put members of the LGBTQ+ community at greater risk for drug and alcohol abuse, depression and anxiety, and suicide, as they try to cope with the pain and suffering they carry in relation to themselves.
Counselling for members of the LGBTQ+ community may include:
- Working towards accepting one’s sexual and/or gender identity as a natural part of him/her/their self
- Working through feelings of shame resulting from negative social attitudes, prejudice and discrimination
- Helping develop healthy coping strategies and forming a positive sense of self-worth and identity
- Learning to build healthy friendships and intimate relationships that serve to enrich, empower, and support one’s life
- Navigating the fear and struggles associated with coming out and the life changes that occur as a result
- Helping parents and loved ones process the changes associated with their child coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or other
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