What is LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Therapy?

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Individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community share many common issues, sometimes unrelated to their sexuality and identity. Oftentimes, one might come to therapy with relationship issues, identity issues, self-esteem concerns, and more. Despite the reasons that might bring someone to therapy, it is important to know that the therapist will be supportive, compassionate, and accepting.

The understanding behind LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Therapy is that a therapist will provide a space that feels welcoming and comfortable. It’s defined as the acknowledgment and acceptance of a person’s sexual orientation and identity, working toward developing a better sense of self, building authenticity, and strengthening one’s voice.

Through LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Therapy, a person can potentially navigate their life in a more meaningful and constructive way. The following are some components of LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Therapy.

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Creating a Safe Space

Creating a safe space is arguably the most important first step to therapy. LGBTQIA+ individuals should not feel judged or unwelcomed in any place, especially not in therapy, where individuals often disclose sensitive and confidential information. To create a safe space, it’s important to be aware of one’s needs and wants prior to starting therapy. For example, some clients might prefer a therapist of a specific gender, age range, or with political views aligned to their own.

LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Therapy is defined as the acknowledgment and acceptance of a person’s sexual orientation and identity, working toward developing a better sense of self, building authenticity, and strengthening one’s voice.

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Once in the therapy room, it might be important to discuss preferred pronouns, any special accommodations, and other conditions that could contribute to creating a safe space. What seems to be most important to many clients is the trust and an alliance that’s built into the work. Although it can take time to build trust and alliance, clients usually have a sense of it early on.
LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Therapy
The LGBTQ Bill of Rights is a personalized list of affirmations curated to assert your birth-given right to certain truths.

The therapeutic relationship can hopefully become an alliance where the individual feels that they are supported, connected, and celebrated.

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Fostering Trust

Harnessing a trusting environment is a key component to therapy. One must feel that they trust their therapist enough to disclose very personal and difficult issues. Some issues that LGBTQIA+ Affirmative therapists might help with include:

  • Relationship issues
  • Intimacy concerns
  • Dating
  • Coming out
  • Gender and sexual identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Confidence issues
  • Internalization
  • Trauma

These issues can often lead to negative feelings, so it’s important that trust is built in therapy so that the focus can be on helping individuals deal with some of these concerns. A question you might ask yourself after seeing a therapist for a few sessions might be, “Do I feel comfortable with this person?” and “Do I get the sense that this person understands my issues?”

Having an Ally

After establishing a safe space and building trust, the therapeutic relationship can hopefully become an alliance where the individual feels that they are supported, connected, and celebrated. Having an ally is an important component to therapy in order to address many of the issues above. By having an LGBTQIA+ Affirmative therapist, the therapy can be catered to the individual’s specific needs and issues. While individuals can work with any therapist, having a therapist who understands the issues that the LGBTQIA+ community faces can result in a more validating and rewarding experience.

Your Turn: Have you experienced the benefits of Affirmative Therapy as an LGBTQIA+ individual? If so, how did it impact your journey? Tell us about your experience below!

A version of this post originally appeared on our sister site, NYC Therapy + Wellness.

Lucas Saiter

Lucas Saiter is a Licensed Psychotherapist at Clarity Therapy. He specializes in LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Therapy and helps individuals who are struggling with intimacy and relationship issues, coming out, self-esteem and identity concerns.

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