Are You Hiding Your Gender Or Sexual Identity Out Of Shame Or Fear?
- Have you been questioning your gender identity or sexual orientation?
- Are you unsure of how to come out to your community or start transitioning?
- Have you ever been made to feel ashamed or embarrassed about your gender or sexuality?
- Are you ready to embrace who you truly are?
Perhaps you’ve been working hard to hide your identity, but over time, leading what feels like a double life has become exhausting. Maybe your frustration has begun to manifest through symptoms of mental health conditions like anxiety or depression. You may have even turned to self-destructive behaviors for temporary relief and a sense of short-lived freedom. Though, these habits have quickly become debilitating.
Perhaps you’re tired of living a life that feels inauthentic and you desperately want to open up to friends and family, but you’re not sure how to tell your loved ones about your sexuality or gender identity. Maybe you belong to a community that has not traditionally accepted LGBTQ individuals, such as a religious group that does not allow same-sex marriage or views homosexuality as a “sin.”
And since you may not know anyone else who identifies as LGBTQ, you can’t figure out where to turn for support.
No matter how you identify, you want to be able to live freely and authentically. LGBTQ counseling can help you gain self-confidence and live on your own terms.
Members Of The LGBTQ Community Often Face Discrimination
Although societal attitudes towards the LGBTQ community have gradually become more accepting, LGBTQ individuals still face discrimination issues today. While they can live openly in some places, this is not the case everywhere. In many areas, coming out is still dangerous.
In addition, members of the LGBTQ community have to deal with the challenges of navigating a heteronormative society in which most people are generally assumed to be heterosexual or cisgender unless they state otherwise. This means that coming out is a process that people identifying as LGBTQ will have to go through over and over again in different situations throughout their lives.
Someone who is unable to express who they truly are may be vulnerable to developing mental health conditions. For example, an LGBTQ individual may suffer from anxiety because they are afraid that someone may learn about their sexuality or gender identity and treat them differently. Or if they feel isolated from their local community because of discriminatory beliefs about LGBTQ people, they may become depressed or even struggle with suicidal thoughts.
Prejudices towards those who identify as LGBTQ can lead to deep-seated feelings of shame and guilt that can be difficult to process and release. When someone has lived their entire life hearing the message that LGBTQ individuals are damaged or broken in some way, reaching genuine self-acceptance can be challenging.
But you can learn to embrace your identity and live your life with confidence and dignity. Through LGBTQ counseling, you can discover how to let go of self-judgment and cultural conditioning and create a future where you can be yourself.
LGBTQ Counseling Provides A Safe Space To Explore Your Identity
If you’ve ever faced harsh judgments for your gender identity or sexual orientation, you might be nervous about opening up to a stranger about your life in therapy. Or you may be worried that you’ll have to “choose” a particular label for your identity in LGBTQ counseling.
At Affinity Psychological Services, we make every effort to create a warm, welcoming environment where you have the freedom to share your experiences, thoughts, and feelings without judgment. Everything you tell your therapist will be purely confidential, so if you know that you are not ready to come out yet, you do not need to fear that anyone besides your therapist will hear what you say in session.
With a compassionate approach to treatment, your therapist will help you get to the root of any lingering feelings of shame or guilt. You will also have the opportunity to work on specific mental health issues that have developed as a result of facing discrimination or being pressured to hide your true self.
Your path to healing and finding freedom in your identity will be unique to you. That’s why your therapist will tailor their approach to treatment based on your needs and resources. During your initial sessions, your therapist will work with you to outline a treatment plan. Because we believe that transparency between therapists and clients is essential, your therapist will always explain why they recommend a particular treatment.
In LGBTQ counseling, you can focus on many different aspects of healing and finding self-acceptance. For instance, you may spend time discussing how to navigate the coming out process or how to specifically tell your romantic partner about your gender or sexuality. If you are transgender, your therapy sessions might center around taking your first steps towards socially transitioning and asking for guidance on gender reassignment. We will also encourage you to reflect on what it might mean for you to live authentically in a world that does not always accept LGBTQ people for who they are. And most importantly, you will have the space to work towards becoming truly comfortable within yourself.
Your therapist may use a few different modalities as part of your treatment. For instance, through Cognitive- Behavioral Therapy (CBT), you can learn to break down negative thought patterns that you may have picked up as a result of cultural messaging. A Feminist Therapy approach will help you understand your individual experience within overlapping societal systems of power and privilege. Any appropriate and successful therapy will help you to rewrite your own personal narrative in a way that creates and sustains more confidence and positivity in your life.
At our fast-growing practice, we work with LGBTQ clients from across the spectrum of gender and sexuality. When you schedule an appointment, we will match you with a therapist who understands your particular background.
But you may still have questions about LGBTQ counseling…
What if I’m not ready to come out yet?
If you know that coming out is not the right decision for you just yet, you don’t have to take this step. Your therapist will allow you to move through sessions at your own pace and make decisions based on your comfort level and safety. LGBTQ counseling is not solely focused on coming out; you can focus on everything from cultivating healthier relationships to addressing anxiety symptoms.
What if I need a letter from a therapist in order to pursue hormones or gender confirmation surgery?
Affinity Psychological Services has multiple providers who specialize in writing these letters of support. We have clinicians available that are willing to work with new or existing clients who need documentation in order to take the next step in their transition journey.
I don’t think I can afford LGBTQ counseling.
Picture counseling as an investment in a brighter, more authentic future. At Affinity Psychological Services, we are a pro-insurance practice that has made a commitment to accepting all local insurance plans so that counseling services are accessible to the widest range of clients.
I worry that my therapist won’t truly understand me.
It’s understandable that after spending so long hiding your true identity out of concern for your safety and well-being, you may feel like no one could really understand what you’ve been going through. But we will take great care to match you up with a LGBTQ-affirming therapist. While everyone has their own unique life experience, a skilled therapist can provide you with the support you need to feel comfortable in your own skin.
LGBTQ Counseling Can Help You Live As Your Authentic Self
If you want to talk to a therapist about your sexuality or your gender identity, you can start the process by sending us your questions about LGBTQ counseling through the contact page on our website. And if you’ve decided that you want to schedule a counseling session, you can make your first appointment at one of our Minnesota locations in Edina, Plymouth, St. Cloud, or St. Louis Park through our scheduling page.