Counseling a Lesbian Client

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Subject – Counseling a Lesbian Client  

Although a person’s gender identity or a person’s sexual orientation might not be a source of distress, individuals who identify as transgender, gay, bisexual, asexual, queer, questioning or any other gender identity, face sexual stigma for living as minority leading to anxiety or stress. Benson (2013) explains that despite the rapid cultural acceptance growth of diverse romantic and sexual orientation, marginalization, discrimination and oppression of these individual still persist. Coping with oppression and discrimination originating from their families and sorting of self-authentic in social pressures and expectation face results to high levels of substance use, depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns affecting this group. The thesis is the process of counseling a lesbian, best approach to use, stereotypes and critiques of lesbianism and the cultural sensitivity of the issue. 

Research reveals that youths who identify with lesbianism are at higher risk of self-harm and suicidal ideation especially if they are facing discrimination from family and friends based on their sexual identity. Several forms are taken by discrimination, physical and verbal bullying, sexual assault, social rejection and repetition of these episode leads to diminished mental health and chronic stress (Benson, 2013). Lesbian adults may face discrimination in education, employment, housing and basic human rights. 

As a therapist counseling a lesbian, am required to identify the position she is in terms of acceptance. I have researched and understood the six stages of sexual orientation: identity awareness, identity comparison, identity tolerance, identity acceptance, identity pride and identity synthesis. If she is attempting to convert to a straight life, she is most likely in stage two or three, and if she is trying to reinvent herself with newfound acceptance, she is in stage four or five. In stage six, she will have accepted her sexuality, views lesbianism as no issue, developed relationships and her sexuality is in a positive light. 

Psychotherapy and psychological interventions should be the most appropriate and effective to use with our client. Kelleher (2009), states that the probability of a lesbian to have depression is very high due to stigma and discrimination. A person suffering from depression has a negative view of the world surrounding them and themselves. This way of thinking negatively is not confined to depression alone but it’s an ongoing process of her thoughts about life. The client may not seek counseling due to her sexual orientation issues however as a therapist am required to be familiar with LGTB norms, acknowledge and appreciate the coming out process, provide a supportive atmosphere for her and ask her question to understand her experience. 

I will use Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) in counseling my client. This approach will aid her in achieving specific goals or changes. One is her way of acting where she should be more outgoing and involved with a support group. The next goal is her way of thinking where she can learn how to solve her problems or getting rid of thoughts that are self-defeating. Another goal would be her way of feeling, I will teach her how to be less scared, less anxious or less depressed. I will concentrate more on her current issue rather than her past. Her beliefs and views will be what I will concentrate more on rather than her personality traits. I will help her to replace her old living ways that were not working with new ways that will work well. As well as helping her to have more control of her life. 

Using this approach, I will train her logically her negative thoughts evidence and adjust the way she views life. It will help her understand how her thinking affects her moods and I will teach her to think more positively about her-self and the world. Negative thinking is a habit and like any habit it can be broken. Often, lesbians feel they do not belong to the society and changing her way of thinking would boost her attitude. The negative attitude and beliefs is one cause of depressive symptoms. 

The client together with other lesbians faces verbal abuse from families and peers after disclosing their sexual orientation. This mostly happens in educational institutions where they are threatened with violence and attacks. The violence and harassment is one way that increases their mental health risk influenced by depression caused by hatred and fear from other people. Violence and harassment of the person may affect their mental wellness as well as affect their disclosure and coming out process. 

Different strategies are required to develop cultural sensitivity based on the client. One strategy is legal consideration which will include the anti-discriminate statues in my state and locality. Self-reflection is important where I understand my culture and that of my profession which will assist me in identifying biases and values that underscore my intervention and approach, and that of my client. I should facilitate my client’s choice by helping her in receiving her specific health goals. Developing a communication plan is another essential strategy to ensure there is no communication barrier between us. Another strategy is developing a care approach together with the client which will include how she is influenced by her culture.

     References

Benson, K. (2013). J. B.Bigner & J. L.Wetchler (Eds.), (2012). Handbook of LGBT-affirmative couple and family therapy. New York: Routledge, 507 pp., $62.95. Journal Of Marital And Family Therapy39(3), 403-404. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jmft.12025

Kelleher, C. (2009). Minority stress and health: Implications for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. Counselling Psychology Quarterly22(4), 373-379. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09515070903334995

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