A focal point of my work as a psychotherapist is providing safe, competent, and compassionate psychotherapy services to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning communities, and to their friends and allies. Whether you are going to therapy to talk specifically about your sexual orientation or gender identity, or to talk about something completely unrelated, you should make sure that you are working with a therapist who understands this important component of your life. Unfortunately, there are many therapists who may just be “winging it,” at best, when it comes to this topic.
An experienced psychotherapist does not need to have your exact life experience to be helpful–after all, only you have your exact life experience–however, it is completely reasonable to ask your potential therapist about her or his experience with respect to working with the LGBTQQ+ communities. And while your therapist will be using his or her experience and/or training as a guide, what is most important is YOUR experience of your sexual orientation and/or gender identity, even if you are not yet able to put words to it.
Below are some of the topics that come up when I work with the LGBTQQ+ communities. This list includes issues I typically see in my private practice, as well as some of the issues I have worked with as a group supervisor for Pacific Center and as an individual supervisor for Queer Life Space, two San Francisco Bay Area agencies that focus on services to the LGBTQQ+ communities.
By the way, I am using the word “communities” intentionally. For political purposes and to represent inclusivity, community is the appropriate word; however, when we are talking about individual psychological factors, there are both similarities and differences to consider, thus my preference of the plural, communities, to reflect that reality.
Coming out, coming out in midlife, relationship difficulties, meeting someone, finding community, lesbians living in San Francisco but finding more community in the East Bay, deciding to have children, being the non-biological mother, living together, communication issues.
relationship difficulties, monogamy, finding someone who is interested in a long-term relationship, coming out, dealing with family.
Feeling excluded from both the straight world and gay/lesbian world and dealing with the resulting bias, coming out, finding community, meeting a partner.
Transgender and Gender Identity:
My work regarding the issue of gender is focused on the psychological implications of living in a binary world, e.g., how do we live in a world where our biology is artificially connected to societal and cultural constructs of appearance and behavior.
Queer and Questioning:
Who am I, how do I meet someone, how do I find community, how do I tell my family and friends, support around coming out, how do I make sense of what I am feeling.
Don’t see your issue here? This is intended to be a brief summary of some of the more common issues I see in my practice and is by no means complete. There are as many issues around the topics of sexual orientation and gender identity as there are people in the world. Ultimately, a positive experience in psychotherapy is about the connection between you and your therapist. Please let me know if I can be helpful to you on your journey.