Pride month represents more than just a few weeks for the LGBTQ+ community. Here at Motivo, our team is excited to take a moment to celebrate inclusivity and to offer some suggestions on how to best serve marginalized and minority populations in your practice.
For Pride Month, we’re highlighting clinical supervisors on Motivo who specialize in working with LGBTQ+ populations in therapy and counseling. Hear firsthand from our “Motivators” about how they strive to serve LGBTQ+ clients in their practice.
In addition to her therapy and supervision practice, Dr. Addison is the Secretary of the Queer and Trans Advocacy Network (QTAN) for the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT). In recent article, Refinery 29, “How To Find A LGBTQ+-Affirming Therapist & Why It Matters”, Dr. Addison shares that the vast majority of therapists report little or no training about working with LGBTQ+ people during their education.
“It’s safe to assume that many therapists continue to practice for years without ever getting basic or updated information on sexual and gender minorities,” she says. Dr. Addison explained that although therapists are required to get continuing education after licensure, they can pick and choose what CE topics to pursue. Most clinicians stick to their area of interest, so it’s safe to assume many therapists continue to practice for years without ever getting basic or updated information on sexual and gender minorities.
Here’s an example Dr. Addison offered: If a senior therapist went to school during a time when clinicians were taught that bisexuals are confused or sex-crazy, they might not have sought an updated, more affirming perspective.
“Being an affirming therapist means that, first and foremost, you assume that being a sexual or gender minority is perfectly normal and valid. It means you don’t believe that being heterosexual or cisgender is ‘normal’ and everything else is a ‘deviation’ from normal.”
Dr. Addison expanded how a therapist should understand that being queer or trans/non-binary is a fine thing to be, not evidence of some underlying problem or pathology. “It means that you understand that sexual and gender minority people face a lot of stress and devaluation that can produce anxiety, depression, and other mental health troubles, but the source of the problem is how society treats you, not who you are,” she says. “It means that you understand that people’s identities are something they sometimes need to explore or come to terms with over time, sometimes when young, sometimes when older, and you know that there’s no one ‘right’ or ‘correct’ way to go through that process.”
“Some people go to therapy to help figure out who they are and what they want — who they want romantic and sexual relationships with, what gender modality will feel congruent and affirming to them, and so on… Most of us got into this field because we really care about people and want people to feel better. We all have had times when we hang up on our parents, or snap at our partners, or make bad decisions about who to have sex with, or wonder why we were born.”
“We are often nervous with new clients too—not just students and pre-licensed people, but even seasoned therapists want clients to like us and worry sometimes about saying the wrong thing.”
Let’s hear from more of our Motivo Supervisors on how they help serve LGBTQ+ clients in their practice.
“To truly have an affirming practice, one must live an affirming life—have a commitment to self-reflection; an ongoing understanding of barriers to healthcare and challenges to everyday life; ability to leverage unique resources and resiliency; and a sincere interest in the romantic bonds and family diversity that weave together the fabric of queer relationships.” ~ Adam Albrite, LMFT.
In this powerful video, Motivo Supervisor Karen Stewart, LCSW, CAC, shares her story of coming out to her colleagues overseas while working in a clinic in Nigeria.
“I had been working with Doctors Without Borders for the past 12 months in Lagos, Nigeria for the HIV AIDS clinic… Some of the staff were HIV positive. We had discussed the wrongful stigma and discrimination they faced. But what of this intolerance and contempt for gays and lesbians? What of the incongruence?”
“I felt I needed to combat this tremendous fear, hate, and misunderstanding. I made a decision: I would say the words aloud, ‘I am a lesbian.'”
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