If you are evaluating your gender identity or sexual orientation, or if you are considering the “coming out” process, you are likely experiencing a great deal of anxiety and stress. Even if your families and networks are very supportive and progressive, you may be fearing the worst and expecting some fallout from your social circles. Through the collaborative process of therapy, we will identify your pre-existing supports, explore new coping skills, and help you find a sense of connection, community, and shared understanding.
We often talk about “coming out” and gender transition as though they are a linear process, but nothing in life is quite so simple. Therapy is a safe space for wherever you are in your journey. The map of your life may not look like a straight line, and that is okay. In counseling for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (“LGBTQ”) issues, there will never be pressure from the therapist to make decisions regarding coming out to friends, families, and coworkers, nor will there be a pressure to explore medical options for transition, unless you yourself have identified these as what you want. Your orientation or gender identity is not a “choice,” but you have a right to express the self that best reflects who you are inside. However, if certain forms of self-expression feel inauthentic or unsafe, that will always be respected.
LGBTQ Adult Counseling
No matter how a person identifies, life can be challenging. But if you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, there may be added layers of complexity to your daily experience. One of the biggest challenges your may face is acceptance: from your community, from your family, or even for yourself. In therapy, we can help you find your way through your unique experience and support you toward a happier, healthier and reconnected life.
As you begin to explore different aspects of your sexual orientation and gender identity, you might find yourself confronting some unexpected issues. You could be stressed about coming out or meeting new concerns around your relationships. You may also find yourself feeling like you lack a sense of purpose, are unfulfilled, or are maybe even a little lost. Therapy can help you move past what’s keeping you stuck.
LGBTQ Parent Coaching
Parenting as same-gender couples or gender-nonconforming couples can be challenging. Along with parenting’s usual demands, parents must navigate the complexities of their own relationship, sometimes complicated by social expectations and gender roles. For many LGBTQ couples, alienation from their own families is common, and partners may be lacking the level of family support that their heterosexual counterparts may receive. From my own place in the LGBTQ community, I can help you identify community resources and build new, affirming circles of support in your life.
Are you confused by the labels your child or teen is using? Sometimes it feels like every family member speaks a different language, leading to unnecessary conflict and tension. Parents and children often feel like they can’t connect because of intergenerational conflicts, including different views on sexual orientation and sexual identity. Learning how to relate well to your LGBT child is crucial to effective parenting, and something we can help you understand and work through. Therapy can help you overcome these obstacles to good communication, listening to one another from a non-defensive, non-blaming place of acceptance aimed toward shared understanding. We provide you and your family members with the means to connect and tools to resolve issues, enriching everyone’s family experience.
Therapy for LGB, Gender-Expansive, and Gender Nonconforming Youth
Even if you are an open-minded, affirming parent who is able to listen to your LGBTQ or gender-non-conforming child without judgment, you may be worried about how they will be perceived or treated by their peers. You may be worried they will encounter bullying or discrimination. You may be mourning the loss of a dream you had for their life.
Children and teens look at the world through different eyes. The experience of growing up can be even more challenging for LGBT kids and teenagers. Sometimes the conflicts that come up aren’t even related to sexual orientation or identity, but may be impacted by these intersecting identities. Through individual and family counseling, we can address some of your worries and concerns, creating a safe space to discuss the obstacles they may be up against with a focus on personal strengths and resiliency.
Even if you have made it this far along the page, you may still have questions. Here are some common worries and concerns:
Will my counselor want to examine my past and try to change me?
There is a lot of “nature vs. nurture” debate about whether sexuality and gender are shaped by the environment or are biologically determined. “Reparative” or “conversion” therapies have been aimed at changing the behaviors and cognitions of a person with same-gender attraction under the moral prescription that these thoughts and behaviors are sinful or wrong. They may also examine the “why”s of your past, trying to establish an origin story about how you came to be this way. We do not practice reparative or conversion therapies or believe them to be ethical. At West Hartford Holistic Counseling, we don’t believe that it actually matters what “caused” you to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, or gender-nonconforming, or that this is something that needs to be changed or controlled—you are who you are, and who you are is awesome!
I think my child is just going through a phase, but how can I be sure?
While youth, adolescence, and young adulthood may involve trying out different relationships, identities, and boundaries, we believe it does more harm than good to treat sexual orientation and gender identities as a “phase.” To the best of your ability, it is important to respect children’s language about who they are and what is important to them. We are all changing, all of the time! Even if an identity marker they are currently using changes a few years down the road, they will remember your parenting during this life stage as supportive and affirming, rather than rejecting or condescending. Even if your intentions are good, expressing skepticism can feel like wishful thinking to an insecure child trying to come out to you. Therapy can create a safe space for you to voice your doubts without projecting them onto your child’s experience.
We invite you to call our office 860-258-4171 or contact us here for a free phone consultation to discuss your specific needs and to answer any questions you have about LGBTQ counseling, our practice and how we can help.We are accepting new clients and will see you online in the comfort of your own home. We are here to support you in these trying and uncertain times and continuing to offer all of our services, through our secure online connection. Contact us today!