Since the queer community is still a minority, there are still many misunderstandings held by society and many professionals about the LGBTQ+ community. Still, some medical professionals are not trained or equipped with the right treatment. This can also lead to mistaking gender nonconformity as an illness and prescribe the wrong treatment such as conversion therapy.
The LGBTQ+ youth experiences further psychological damage and trauma due to wrong treatment and discrimination. Due to these reasons, many LGBTQ+ people don’t even disclose their identity and prefer to approach professionals who are LGBTQ+ friendly.
The prevalence of mental health disorders such as depression anxiety, substance abuse and other mental health concerns are also higher among the LGBTQ+ community. Psychosocial factors such as discrimination, bullying and social rejection further elevate the risk of self-harm behaviour, suicide and stress. The adults of the queer community are even subjected to discrimination regarding housing, employment, education and also sometimes fundamental human rights.
Due to these social and psychological challenges, LGBTQ+ people are most commonly referred for therapy. It is always recommended to people not suffer in silence. It is never to late to seek help or support from people who can understand their mental and emotional health. Therapy can lead to many benefits, ten most common benefits are listed below.
Benefits of Therapy
- Gender dysphoria, which can be defined as emotional and psychological conflict due to the discord between a person’s physical gender and sexual orientation, is a common reason why many people approach therapy. The therapist, as well as support groups, can help one accept the sexual orientation they identify with.
- As discussed above, the LGBTQ community faces discrimination which can create a lot of stress and emotional concerns. Therapy help in coping with this discrimination as well as other people’s reaction.
- The period of transition can be difficult for LGBT people. Seeking the help of a mental health professional is again advisable here.
- If one is having thoughts of committing suicide or self-harm, reach out to a therapist as therapeutic skills can help one cope with their ongoing personal or psychological issues.
- A therapist can also help you boost your self-esteem and self-acceptance.
- If you are diagnosed with any mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety, consult a psychiatrist as well as a psychologist. Research shows the best results for individuals who received therapy along with medications as their treatment.
- Friends and family can also sometimes create hostility, abandonment and rejection against you and that can lead to much more distress. Family-based therapy, as well as individualist therapy, with a professional trained or specialising in LGBTQ issues, can help in the process of normalisation as well as family adjustments.
- Workplace concerns such as unemployment, workplace bullying, homophobia or transphobia related issues are also generally addressed in therapy.
- Some people use alcohol and drugs to cope with negative thoughts and feelings. This maladaptive coping mechanism can be harmful in the long term and therefore should be addressed in therapy.
- Even if you are fearful, tearful or simply tired due to any reason, therapy can support you in many ways.
Tips for Therapist
- Being aware of correct terminology. In case you don’t know, ask!
- Continue education training and workshop to stay updated with LGBTQ affirmative counselling.
- Involve yourself in queer community events and activities.
- Remember that each individual has their own personal journey of discovering themselves and disclosing their identity.
- Include LGBTQ community-related literature in your waiting area or mailing list.
- Talk about your LGBTQ affirmative stances with other people such as family, friends and colleagues.
- Lastly, be aware of your own heteronormative and gender normative assumptions.
These are some useful tips for individuals as well as professionals associated with LGBTQ+ community. Awareness plays an imperative role in reducing stigma as well as discrimination that the queer community has to face every day. As individuals, we can try to learn more about their community and be kind to one another.
Who can help?
MHT Directory is a free online resource, by Mental Health TodayiN, where you can find support from mental health professionals across India. Take good care of your mental wellbeing by connecting with psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health organizations from different parts of India. From severe mental illness to general psychological and emotional wellbeing, mental health professionals at MHT Directory are specialized in various fields of psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience. Find the right expert to remedy your mental health troubles.
Sources: https://www.ndsu.edu/fileadmin/hdfs/documents/misc/Affirmative_therapy_handout.pdf https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/lgbt-issues https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-issues-if-you-are-gay-lesbian-or-bisexual/