As of 2016, Washington D.C. had the highest percentage of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, or questioning, (LGBTQ) individuals in the country, with 8.6 percent of adult residents identifying themselves as LGBTQ.
LGBTQ individuals face unique challenges. There are still issues with acceptance in society, which is just one of the reasons why people who identify as LGBTQ can benefit from therapy.
Mental health risks
People who identify as LGBTQ may benefit from seeing a qualified LGBTQ therapist for a number of reasons. Those who identify as LGBTQ have a notably higher likelihood of facing mental health challenges and therapy can be helpful for dealing with a range of issues.
Prejudice is a significant issue in LGBTQ people’s lives, and it contributes to a range of mental health complications. They may be rejected by some or all of their family members, which can lead to isolation and doubts about their self-worth. The specter of discrimination can lead to a fear of exposure, which can cause people to struggle with self-acceptance and also contribute to anxiety. When individuals do not feel they can accept themselves or live with constant stress, they are more likely to develop other mental health issues, such as depression.
LGBTQ people often face discrimination in schools, workplaces, and community organizations. People who identify as LGBTQ have also reported that they have been denied medical care. As a result, LGBTQ individuals may not share pertinent information about their sexual history because of fear of rejection. Transgender individuals commonly experience discrimination, even from medical professionals.
Legal challenges over bathroom use have underscored the complications that transgender individuals can experience on a daily basis. They are also likely to have interactions with people who refuse to use their chosen pronouns to identify them and may have to fight to change their name to match their gender identity.
LGBTQ teenagers also face distinct challenges because they are dealing with puberty and developing an interest in sexual activities and relationships. This is a time of significant change for all individuals, and teens can feel excessive pressure to conform to meet gender and sexual orientation expectations.
The hormonal changes that teenagers experience can also be factors that cause many teens to experience depression. With the added challenges of bullying and rejection that LGBTQ teens face, the rate of suicide attempts for these teenagers is more than triple the suicide attempt rate for heterosexual teenagers. The rate of attempts increases to almost six times that of heterosexual youth when just looking at transgender teens.
Benefits of therapy
Working with experienced LGBTQ therapists is important because these professionals are specifically trained to work with members of the LGBTQ community. They understand the challenges that are unique to LGBTQ individuals. They are sensitive to the needs of people who identify as LGBTQ and tailor their approach to these clients.
Professional therapy practices in DC can help LGBTQ individuals learn to accept themselves and overcome suicidal thoughts, but their focus actually extends far beyond these objectives. Many of them have a multifaceted approach to meet the needs of all LGBTQ clients, no matter what stage they’re at in their journey
They understand the legal challenges that LGBTQ individuals face as they experience discrimination and violations of their rights. They are also aware of the impact a person’s sexual orientation can have on their career and help individuals navigate workplace challenges.
Therapy practices that specialize in working with the LGBTQ community can also be a valuable way of developing a support system that can help people navigate their unique challenges. With caring mental health professionals to guide them, LGBTQ clients can form connections, build confidence, and develop self-care strategies to help them cope with the challenges they face day to day.