In my experience a client’s presenting problem may be closely related to issues of sexual orientation, so it is important to ask a client about her or his sexual and romantic identity, desires, and behaviours during an initial interview.
On the other hand, LGBT-identified clients may present for reasons that have little or nothing to do with their sexual orientation. In such cases, however, it may still be important to acknowledge that presenting issues can still be indirectly impacted by their sexual orientation identity.
Most LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and transgender) clients do not seek psychological services for issues related to their sexual orientation. However, I believe that therapy with LGBT clients may be made more effective by :
- Becoming familiar with norms in LGBT communities.
- Avoiding the assumption that therapy experiences with non-LGBT clients generalise to work with LGBT clients.
- Asking questions to understand the LGBT experience.
- Using inclusive language (verbally and in written materials), such as “partner” or rather than “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.”
- Disclosing experiences working in LGBT communities.
- Normalizing the LGBT experience.
- Remaining neutral to allow clients to explore issues of gender and sexuality.
- Appreciating and acknowledging the difficulty of the coming out process.
- Providing a supportive atmosphere for LGBT clients to explore spiritual issues in the context of their gender and/or sexual orientation.
- Addressing the ways in which CBT may address LGBT related and non- LGBT related issues
Stressors that are often of particular importance to lesbian, bisexual, and gay clients can include (a) overt acts of abuse, harassment, and violence, (b) development of one’s identity as a sexual minority person and related internalized homophobia, (c) disclosure of sexual orientation to others and related lack of social support, and (d) development of platonic and romantic relationships with other lesbian, gay male, and bisexual peers.
I believe that the central element of successful psychotherapy is a respectful, empathic, and honest relationship and I will always strive to provide this.