While diverse sexual and romantic orientations have become more accepted today than in the past, individuals who identify as LGBTQ do continue to face discrimination and oppression. The process of coping with such discrimination as well as sorting through one’s own feelings can lead to a number of issues, including stress and anxiety. In many cases, seeking help from a qualified therapist can help individuals better cope with such concerns.

What Issues Might LGBTQ Individuals Face?

Common LGBTQ issues may vary from one person to another, based on their specific situation. Below are some of the most common issues that many people who identify as LGBTQ may need help with:

Homophobia-Hatred for individuals based on their sexual orientation is still quite pervasive and can result in discrimination and open harassment.

LGBTQ Teens-Being a teen can be difficult enough, but when a teenager is LGBTQ, the process of coming to terms with one’s own sexuality as well as coming out to family and friends can be overwhelming.

Gay Parenting-Parenting on its own can present certain challenges, but when two people of the same gender are raising children, they may experience unique obstacles, including who will perform traditional roles as well as other areas that need to be considered.

LGBTQ Couples Issues-Couples of all sexual orientations may experience challenges from time to time. This is no less true for homosexual couples as heterosexual couples. Coping with emotional problems when one is LGBTQ can involve a unique set of challenges.

Bisexual Issues-When a person is attracted to both men and women, he or she may experience a unique set of challenges.

Individuals who identify as LGBTQ, particularly teens, are at an increased risk of self-harm and suicidal thoughts. This is especially true when they also experience discrimination as a result of their sexual orientation. Individuals who identify as LGBTQ are much more likely to experience victimization and bullying.

Discrimination can occur in a variety of ways ranging from social rejection to sexual assault to verbal and physical bullying. Repeated episodes of discrimination can result in diminished mental health and chronic stress. Even the expectation of discrimination among LGBTQ individuals can lead to stress and diminished mental health. Such issues can affect not only teens but also adults who may be subjected to harassment and discrimination in terms of employment, housing, and education.

In addition, many of the life challenges and concerns that LGBTQ people often seek therapy for are also common among heterosexuals. For instance, all couples are at risk for arguing over in-laws, money, quality time, sex, etc. Furthermore, everyone is subject to some of the same triggers that can result in stress on a daily basis, such as workplace concerns, mood swings, low self-esteem, etc.

Common Experiences

Many LGBTQ people have experienced problems with the following:

  • Bullying
  • Rejection and hostility from family and friends
  • Danger of violence in public places
  • Harassment from neighbors
  • Homophobic comments from others

Such experiences can cause many LGBTQ people to face a variety of mental health issues, including:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Concealing their sexuality even to the point of leading a double life
  • Difficulty in accepting their own sexual orientation, which can lead to conflict, denial, isolation, and substance abuse
  • Damaged relationships
  • Lack of family support
  • Self-harm
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder from the effects of hostility and bullying

As a result of being the target of negativity and discrimination, LGBTQ individuals may also experience:

  • Confusion
  • Stress
  • Appetite changes
  • Headaches
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts

Individuals who have experienced any of these symptoms as a result of their sexual orientation should not hesitate to seek help with a qualified therapist.

Origins of Problems

Problems that may benefit from therapy can develop for a variety of reasons. For instance, such issues could arise due to challenges associated with coming out to one’s family and friends or could be due to discrimination faced in school or the workplace. In other cases, problems may arise due to issues between a couple or issues an individual is experiencing in his or her relationships.

It should be noted that regardless of the cause of the problem, such issues do not usually become resolved on their own. While therapy cannot eliminate the presence of discrimination or harassment, it can help LGBTQ individuals learn how to cope with such issues as well as associated problems, including depression, stress, and anxiety.

Available Help with Counseling

While many therapists may have the qualifications to help, LGBTQ clients may feel more comfortable working with a therapist who specializes in or has experience in this particular area. Treatment for LGBTQ issues may vary based on the specific type of issue the individual is experiencing. It may also be helpful for the therapist to determine whether the individual may also be experiencing problems with other types of issues, such as depression and anxiety. In regards to choosing a therapist, a proponent of affirmative therapy may be the best option; such a professional is supportive of ones identity and acknowledges, rather than minimizes or ignores, the reality of ones experiences.

In some cases, family and/or couples counseling may prove to be helpful, depending on the specific type of issue the individual is experiencing. In other cases, individual counseling and therapy sessions may be more beneficial.

Counseling and psychotherapy can help LGBTQ individuals take stock and determine what is going on as well as determine the best way to handle the various strains and stresses that surround them. Such forms of therapy might include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy

Through therapy, it is possible to learn how to think more positively about life, set goals, and deal with current situations in a more positive manner. The number of counseling sessions and frequency of sessions required may vary among individuals based on the type and severity of issues faced.

If you find you relate to the information in this article and would like some help, please contact Rita with Sioux Falls Wellness Counseling at (605) 610-9228.