For Clinicians and Clients
Why learn about LGBT issues as a professional counselor?
Professional counselors strive to be culturally competent providers of exceptional mental health care. One component of understanding your client's world view and individual culture is being aware of the importance of gender and sexual identity in everyday life. Great strides are being made in equality for LGBTQ individuals today, but many still struggle with the effects of stigma and prejudice; issues that often arise over the course of counseling and therapy. Like many other minority and marginalized groups, the journey of identify synthesis for LGBTQ people differs from that of the over-arching hetero-normative culture. There are several theoretical underpinnings that support gay, lesbian, trans, and queer identity development. I personally have conducted research in the past on gay and queer identity development. In an excerpt from prior research on this topic I discuss a few of the issues you might encounter as a clinician:
"Vivienne Cass’s Homosexuality Identity Formation model is one that outlines specific stages in the integration of gay sexual identity in to one’s overall identity, including confusion, comparison, tolerance, acceptance, pride and synthesis (Kraus, 2008; Levy, 2009). While this model has been widely used and accepted to understand gay identity, there is current discourse within the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community to move away from linear stage models. Proponents of queer theory suggest that stage models only accommodate the two binary/polar categories of heterosexual and homosexual and that the journey towards sexual identity formation is not always linear for every individual (Levy, 2009). Queer theorists also believe that identity formation and integration have the ability to co-occur, which is not possible from the linear stage model assumption (Hunter, Rosario & Schrimshaw, 2011). In addition, queer theorists feel that stage models suggest that if an individual does not progress in a step by step fashion through the end stages, that the individual is dysfunctional or not fully developed (Levy, 2009). In the current social context in which there are a multitude of sexual identities rather than the two dichotomous ones at either end of the heterosexual-homosexual continuum, we have to remember that not every all LGBTQ individual needs counseling or is unable to synthesize a congruent sexual identity." -Stephanie Mager, 2014
Resources for Clients- Encourage your clients to broaden their social support network!
Resources for Clinicians- Whether you are looking for a webinar, podcast, or CEU credits, there are a multitude of ways to learn more and become more culturally competent!
Videos- Hear what other clinicians who specialize in the field of LGBT counseling have to say!