Sexual and gender minorities, more commonly known as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals, may seek mental health services to manage the social and emotional symptoms that can come attached with identification with and/or participation in this community. Listed below are a few of the common reasons for seeking mental health services:
Individuals who identify as part of the LGBTQ community experience a unique process of identity development, which includes identity confusion, identity comparison, identity tolerance, identity acceptance, identity pride, and identity synthesis. During any phase of identity development, LGBTQ-identified individuals may seek mental health services to cope with emotions and reactions or to facilitate progression.
Disclosing to Others
After an individual gains an awareness and/or acceptance of their sexual and/or minority identity, he or she must decide if and when they should disclose this status and to whom. During this time, LGBTQ-identified individuals may experience distance and loss in their current relationships. Seeking mental health services may provide these individuals with tools on how to cope with the loss of friends and/or family, learning how to seek out new interpersonal relationships, and finding ways to maintain and enhance their relationships with others.
Coping with Stigma
Sexual and gender minorities may experience prejudice and discrimination in their lives, such as bullying in schools and/or being denied equal civil rights. These individuals may seek mental health services to provide themselves with the support and tools needed to combat societal stigma.
Experiences Across the Lifespan
As LGBTQ-identified individuals move across the lifespan, they may encounter barriers to living fully, such as being denied the right to marry, adopt children, and/or feeling less visible as they age. By seeking counseling from a mental health provider, sexual and gender minorities can process their feelings and reactions to any unjust experiences and learn different ways to enhance their living.
Current recommendations to enhance the well-being of individuals who identify as sexual or gender minorities are to gain acceptance of their LGBTQ identity, engage in a supportive social network, participate in LGBTQ support groups, and become involved in LGBTQ activism.
The Sankofa Method
The staff at Sankofa Psychological Services, Inc. aim to provide clients who identify as sexual and/or gender minorities the highest quality of care. Every staff member has received training on providing mental health services to clients who identify as part of the LGBTQ community. We offer a non-judgmental, supporting environment where sexual and gender minority clients can feel welcome without fear of being shamed or judged.
Some clients may fear that by disclosing their sexual and/or gender identity that their mental health provider will try to persuade them to change their lifestyle and/or shame them for the “choice” they have made. However, the staff at Sankofa Psychological Services, Inc. believes that identifying as LGBTQ is not something that can or should be changed. Rather therapists at Sankofa will provide encouragement and support to help you gain comfort in your lifestyle, regardless of what lifestyle you live.
Although we are able to provide competent care to clients wishing to discuss their sexual and/or gender identity and its impact in their everyday lives, we also understand that clients identifying as LGBTQ may not be seeking mental health services for this reason. As such, the staff at Sankofa Psychological Services, Inc. will never direct the focus of therapy on this issue unless expressly stated to do so by the client. We respect every client’s autonomy and allow the client to set the agenda for each and every session. Our holistic focus means that we cater to enhancing your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Whether you choose to engage in individual, couples, or group counseling to discuss intra- or interpersonal issues that may or may not be related to your sexual and/or gender identity, Sankofa Psychological Services, Inc. can match you with the best therapist to meet your needs.