A Therapist’s Guide To Gender Discovery

Exploring gender discovery has been one of the most pressing battles young adults face in our society today. With many therapists getting appointments left and right, it can sometimes be confusing to deal with significant concerns such as this.

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Breaking Sexual Identity Stereotypes

Today, many people have been more engaged in discussing gender and sexuality problems. Through many advocacies, campaigns, and movements, the taboo topic of “gender and sexuality” is now more normalized and celebrated to remove the stigma. Some people might think it is not often discussed in therapy sessions. However, it is still a valid dilemma that needs to be addressed like any other.

In the United States, many teenagers experience problems with their sexual orientation and personal identity. Adolescents who start to transition to adulthood deal with these problems every day and avoid talking about it because of shyness, fear, or embarrassment. As for some therapists, it can be a new topic in the field of counseling, but it exists. It must be given priority to help other people find peace within themselves, especially in a society that can be very condescending and quick to judge. Linda A. Travis, PsyD once stated that “I can’t overstress the potential fears that people have about discrimination,” she says. As a result, she says, “LGBT older adults can be reluctant to see health-care providers until their problems become so bad they can no longer avoid doing so.”

Possible Hindrances Towards Understanding Gender Discovery

Gender discovery and sexual orientation are topics that can be quite sensitive and must not be taken lightly. For therapists, knowing the right words to say and communicating the right intentions are key actions to help those who are in need.

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The hesitations of patients concerning getting therapy sessions include the fear of retaliation, getting judged, and misunderstood. In a world with people who have opposing views, significant age gaps, and miscommunicated ideas, it is quite rare to find a therapist who can completely understand the whole concept of gender discovery and exploring one’s sexual orientation. “If a therapist believes homosexuality is wrong, sinful, immoral, or a mental illness, he or she should NOT work with gay clients,” says Christopher L. Heffner, Psy.D.

Gender discovery is very crucial to human development because it affects a lot of other factors in the brain. A patient’s problems regarding the topic may profoundly affect their future. It can lead to more social problems, lack of emotional stability, and other mental issues that might occur sooner or later in the patient’s psychosocial development. What a young adult understands and absorbs in their early development stage can significantly influence his or her future actions, decisions, and views.

As A Therapist: What Can I Do?

With many therapists in the “baby boomer” age, it can be quite hard to understand the younger generation and all these problems occurring in their lives regarding gender discovery. This age gap serves as a roadblock to understanding each other in therapy or even a simple conversation.

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“Rejection often starts at home. As many as 50 percent of LGBT teens experience a negative reaction from their parents when they come out; 30 percent experience physical abuse, and 26 percent are kicked out of their homes.” That is according to Michael Friedman Ph.D. But not to worry! For people in the field of counseling, there are many ways to educate oneself regarding the concept of gender discovery and sexual orientation. Though not all are well-versed in the field, knowing how to approach people dealing with these concerns can go a long way. 

As a therapist, if you happen to encounter patients or random strangers who open up about this topic, it is best to recommend them to an expert or professional who can give them better help with more concrete and research-based advice. However, when caught in a random conversation, it can still be essential to know which kind of approach should be used for a sensitive topic like this.

 

  • Talk to adolescents more often.

 

Getting to know young adults on a personal level helps them become more self-aware and more open. By getting to know more people, therapists can be exposed to new perspectives other than the ones they already know.

 

  • Be educated.

 

It helps to be knowledgeable about the different aspects of adolescent development as this heavily influences knowledge on tackling issues such as sexual identity. Such problems usually come out in this stage of life because adolescents to young adults want to get to know themselves more and understand themselves better. Through educating oneself, therapists can converse with better scientific basis to understand different situations their patients currently face.

 

  • Take online courses.

 

Part of the journey of gender discovery is the evolution of sexual orientations that were not acknowledged back in the day. Now, society recognizes more identities and orientations, and this helps people who feel confused or lost about their gender.

 

  • Read advocacies and campaigns.

 

With more movements around the world about gender equality, reading about them, their causes, and the educational materials they provide is an excellent learning alternative to know more. As our society evolves, so does our approaches toward counseling matters. By understanding how society behaves, this would be a great way to better approach people dealing with gender discovery matters.

Through proper education and effective communication, a bright future awaits personal and gender advancement.

 

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