We understand that the concerns LGBT clients bring to counselling are often universal to all people – and not necessarily related to their personal sexual orientation or gender identity. Most importantly, we’re committed to providing a safe, nonjudgmental and accepting therapeutic environment for our LGBT clients.
* Also known as LGBTIQ – see glossary below
There is an incredibly strong evidence base that supports positive counselling outcomes for LGBT clients.
Our counselling services for all clients include:
- Anger management
- Sexual Abuse
- Sex and Intimacy
In addition to these services, we offer specialist counselling support to LGBT clients for the following concerns:
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Coming out
LGBT discrimination and stress
Recent sociocultural shifts and legal reforms have significantly increased the potential for LGBT people to openly live fulfilling lives, with a range of the same rights and protections afforded to heterosexual and cisgendered people.
Many LGBT people live happy, rewarding lives with the full support of their family, friends, work colleagues and community.
Yet discrimination and stigma still persist. This means that LGBT people are vulnerable to a unique set of stressors which result from living as a sexual minority in a predominantly heterocentric world.
Prejudice, discrimination, bullying, social marginalisation – and in some cases physical violence – can result in acute and chronic low-level stress for LGBT people. The need to be hypervigilant about the possibility of negative social attitudes or stigmatisation can severely impact the health and wellbeing of LGBT people. This ongoing stress can result in experiences of isolation, shame, anxiety and trauma.
Specialist LGBT-friendly counselling can help you to effectively navigate the experience of living in a world where social stigma and discrimination still lingers. LGBT people are already incredibly resilient: strengths-based counselling can help to enhance your existing coping strategies and stress management skills, alleviating anxiety and reducing chronic stress.
LGBT mental health and relationships
LGBT people face elevated rates of psychological distress due to social stigma and prejudice, which can adversely affect their self-esteem, sexuality and relationships with others. Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia can also create significant mental health challenges for LGBT people. Counselling can help to address these issues and support LGBT people to live confidently within their sexual orientation and gender identity.
60 to 76% of LGBT people report positive, long-term improvements in both mood and relationships after seeking counselling support.
In addition to the common relationship issues faced by heterosexual couples, domestic violence and sexual coercion is also prevalent in LGBT couples, with 30% of same-sex attracted people reporting intimate partner violence in their relationships. Therapeutic relationship and anger management counselling for LGBT individuals and couples addresses these challenges and can significantly improve mental health and relationship outcomes.
Coming out as LGBT
Contrary to popular belief, publicly affirming one’s sexuality or gender doesn’t happen in one big reveal for most people. More frequently, coming out is a gradual process that happens in stages – or not at all for some people. In fact, only 50% of LGBT Australians are out to their entire personal and professional circles.
You might choose to come out to your parents, family, friends, or workmates. But for many people, there are cultural, religious or professional considerations that shape and inform when – and who – they choose to share their LGBT identity with.
Our counsellors and psychologists offer client-centred support that is sensitive to the complex needs of LGBT clients navigating the process of affirming their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Although most people have a positive coming out experience, for some people the experience can be stressful, scary and isolating if the reception isn’t what was hoped for. It’s incredibly important to have a strategic approach to coming out that prioritises your safety and wellbeing. Counselling is a safe place to explore your concerns both before and after you tell people that you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or otherwise sexually or gender-diverse.
Other people may still feel confused or undecided about their gender or sexual orientation, or may not want to label their sex or gender identity. LGBT-affirmative counselling can help you to clarify your feelings and thoughts about your sexuality and/or gender identity, and effectively address any associated concerns you may have.
Support for parents of LGBT youth
If you’re the parent, carer or family member of a young person who identifies as LGBT, you may be wondering how you can best support them.
Whether you think your child may be LGBT, or they have come out to you as sexually or gender diverse, family and parenting counselling can help you process the thoughts and emotions you’re experiencing.
Although many parents experience a sense of relief when their child trusts them by confiding their sexual or gender identity, for some parents feelings of surprise, confusion, and fear for their child’s future safety and wellbeing may surface.
LGBT-friendly counselling can help you and your family to explore and process any concerns or fears you may have about your child’s LGBT identity. Counselling can also clarify practical, meaningful support strategies that ensure your family is strongly equipped to deal with any challenges that arise in future.
Our LGBT-friendly counsellors and psychologists
One of the most common questions our LGBT clients ask is whether their Counsellor or psychologist identifies as LGBT.
Just as we don’t screen or discriminate based on age, faith beliefs or ethnicity, nor do we ask our practitioners to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity.
You can rest assured that if you see a Counsellor or psychologist for therapeutic support, that they are an LGBT ally.
Counsellors and psychologists are highly trained and skilled at working with LGBT people, their partners, and their families. Our practitioners are respectful, nonjudgmental and attuned to the unique challenges faced by LGBT individuals seeking professional therapeutic support for a broad range of concerns.
To make an appointment or enquiry, please call 1300 735 030.
LGBT: Glossary of terms
Biphobia Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against bisexual people.
Bisexual Someone who is emotionally and sexually attracted to both men and women.
Cisgender Someone who identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth.
Coming out Acknowledging to yourself or others that you are LGBT.
Gay Someone who is emotionally and sexually attracted to someone of the same gender. The term is most frequently used in reference to same-sex attracted men, but may also be applied to women (see also: lesbian).
Gender identity Someone’s personal lived experience of their own gender, which may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth.
Genderqueer Someone who identifies as a gender other than male or female – or who identifies as neither, both, or some combination thereof.
Gender-questioning Someone who is exploring their gender identity. Questioning may also apply to sexual orientation.
Homophobia Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against same-sex-attracted people.
Heterocentric Widely-held assumption (cultural, social, political) that heterosexuality and cisgenderism are ‘normal’ or the preferred sexual orientation and gender status.
Intersex Umbrella term for people born with a variance in their reproductive or sexual anatomy: they do not fit the typical definition of a ‘male’ or ‘female’ body.
Lesbian A woman who is emotionally and sexually attracted to other women.
LGBT Umbrella term that refers to people who are sexuality, sex and/or gender diverse (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans). The acronym may also appear as LGBTIQ (the ‘I’ stands for intersex, and the ‘Q’ stands for queer or questioning).
Nonbinary A distinct gender identity that doesn’t conform to the male/female gender binary.
Transgender Someone whose gender identity and/or gender expression is different to their sex assigned at birth. Transgender individuals may identify as female, male, both genders or neither.
Transphobia Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against transgender people.