Happy Pride Month From Your Local Psychologist!
In honor of Pride Month that is happening right now, we would like to highlight some of the challenges and issues that are unique to the LBGTQIA community that affect the whole person that may benefit from the therapy provided by Dr. Beth Firestein, your local psychologist who specializes in counseling individuals, couples, and families of diverse backgrounds.
A person’s romantic or sexual life is not commonly thought of as being a source of great anxiety or stress that would cause a person to seek out counseling unless it deviates from social norms or there are interpersonal conflicts. While identifying as a member of the LGBTQIA — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, or asexual — may not be outside of social norms, many feel that there is still a social stigma and that the general population does not understand that there are many challenges that are unique to the community and can cause a great deal of stress or anxiety.
While there has been an upward trend of cultural acceptance of “alternative lifestyles,” many community members still suffer oppression, discrimination, and marginalization that has kept many “in the closet” out of fear and shame. These feelings of being a minority often lead to higher levels of guilt, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental health concerns that interfere with the happiness and comfort in identity that each person deserves. LGBTQIA persons are ten times more likely to be bullied, harassed, and assaulted and are twice as likely as cisgender heterosexuals to commit suicide.
Despite being a minority population, most of the issues that members of the LGBTQIA community bring to counseling are the same as their heterosexual counterparts — relationship problems, identity conflicts, family relations, and personal trauma. Additionally, there are some unique challenges that this population may need some additional help facing.
Until 1978 (that’s right, just 40 years ago!), the DSM — Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — classified homosexuality as a mental disorder, which spurred the popular belief that “alternative” sexualities were a mental disorder that could be corrected with effective treatment. As our culture and societal understandings catch up with biology, stigmas have been reduced, but are still present. This fear of judgment, prejudice, and hostility often leads people to hide their true identity and live a life of pretending, for the sake of fitting in. This hiding and leading a double, secret life is what is called “being in the closet.” When someone comes out, it can be a great source of stress and anxiety. People fear rejection by those they love, discrimination by the general public, and disappointing those who believe they have failed. While coming out may be incredibly stressful, keeping your true identity a secret can lead to even bigger problems — depression, social isolation, and shame. Seeking the help of a counselor can help you find comfort in your identity and the strength to come out and face whatever may come as a result.
Gender Dysphoria and Transitioning
Gender dysphoria is the psychological term for the condition of when a gender identity does not match the gender that was assigned at birth that was based on sexual anatomy. Gender dysphoria can result in a host of challenges including an intense intrapersonal identity conflict that can cause shame, anger, hopelessness, and depression when a person attempts to live a false life as the gender they were assigned rather than the gender they identify with. For those who are confident and comfortable in their identity and transition to express their identity outwardly, conflicts can arise in interpersonal and societal conflicts. Many transgender or transsexual people face discrimination and harassment that can cause serious mental health consequences.
If you are facing any mental health challenges or simply need someone to talk to about life’s stressors, trust the experience and expertise of Dr. Beth Firestein. She has more than 20 years of experience in providing counseling and treatment to individuals, couples, and families of diverse backgrounds — judgment-free. To schedule your consultation, call Inner Source today!
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