It is said that it is human nature to fear things or people who are different. For centuries, society has pointed to this as justification for judging and discriminating against people who fall into “non-traditional” categories.
Every day our society is becoming more and more accepting of the differences we see in each other. Despite this progressive acceptance, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender still face a number of social stigmas and discrimination. It’s no wonder that this can lead to stress and anxiety for those in the LGBT community.
If you are a member of the LGBT community and you’ve experienced anxiety tied to your identity, you’re not alone. Thousands of people just like you experience the same concerns every day. Let’s consider the facts:
- According to a 2007 survey, students who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender were almost ten times as likely to experience bullying and victimization at school.
- LGBT people were also twice as likely to have considered suicide as their heterosexual, non-transgender classmates.
- People who identify themselves as homosexual or transgender face a number of common issues:
- Discrimination and oppression at work or school
- Stress and anxiety based around coming out to friends and family members
- The struggle to identify your “true” self despite social expectations
- The anticipation of potential discrimination or harassment even in situations where it hasn’t occurred yet
Finding the Right Therapist for LGBT Anxiety
The ethics of professions tied to mental health, such as social work, psychology, and psychiatry require that therapists provide services to all people without discrimination. That being said, some therapists may be better than others when assisting with the specific needs of the LGBT community. Because of this, there are a few factors you may want to consider when seeking therapy for anxiety about your sexuality:
- Similar experience: A therapist who is homosexual or transgender will have real-life experience similar to yours and may be able to provide more extensive assistance.
- Professional focus: Many therapists focus their energy on specific areas of psychiatry. Finding someone who specializes in the anxieties of the LGBT community may provide you with more options as you go through your therapy.
- The therapist’s view on reparation or conversion therapy: Decades ago, the mental health community operated on the misguided notion that homosexuality concerns were mental health disorders. During this time period it was common to find therapists who focused on “fixing” what they considered to be “improper” romantic attractions. Obviously, this practice is highly discouraged now and, in many states, has actually been banned. However, it’s still good to be aware of this so you don’t accidentally find yourself working with a therapist who has different intentions than you do.
Remember, the LGBT anxiety you face on a regular basis is not a result of there being anything wrong with you. They arise because of the environmental factors that surround you. Appropriate therapy will aim to help you understand and cope with those factors to improve your daily interactions.
Are you or someone you know facing severe anxiety as a result of your sexual or gender identity? Dr. Andrew Rosen knows the best techniques for helping you work through this anxiety and cope with difficult situations that arise. For more information, contact Dr. Rosen or call The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094.