Many clients in the world are looking for a clinician just like you to help them. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Plus(LGBTQIA+) clients are especially at risk when looking for a competent and skilled provider.
Whether you refer to the community at LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQIA+, or another combination of acronyms, they needed affirming behavioral healthcare. The plus at the end of the abbreviation is to include all of the other identities not spelled out.
Your goal is to provide the best counseling experience for your LGBTQIA+ client. Here are a few practical tips that you can apply to your current clinical work.
Assess for common issues
Due to discrimination and marginalization in society, there are many common issues that LGBTQIA+ clients seek counseling to help with overcome. Trauma, PTSD, poor body image, anxiety, substance abuse, untreated medical problems, gender dysphoria, suicide attempts, suicidal ideations, and self-harm are a few examples of common issues. As a clinician, it’s essential to assess for all of these potential struggles.
Keep the session about the client, not you
As a clinician, you work hard to keep the focus on the client and what they are going through. Your ability to keep the session about the client is essential when working with LGBTQIA+ clients. Don’t jump in share how you relate to what they are going through. This can lead to the client losing focus on what they are sharing or what they realize about themselves during the session.
Attend training and stay up to date
You want to provide the best clinical experience for your LGBTQIA+ clients, and to do this, attend a specialty training. You get experience from working with these clients in a clinical setting, but attending trainings and workshops will help ensure you are the most up to date with issues your clients are facing.
Discrimination within the LGBTQIA+ community
As a clinician, don’t assume everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community likes, accepts, and gets along with one another just because of who they are. Even within the LGBTQIA+ community, there is discrimination among the different identities. Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex individuals are discriminated against within the community. These individuals are misunderstood, or there is an attempt to erase their presence in the community.
Get involved in advocacy and education
If you’re passionate about helping your LGBTQIA+ clients live their best life, get involved in advocacy and education. For example, attend local PFLAG meetings, trainings in the community, share educational information on social media, and advocate for equal rights. If you hear someone using a homophobic, transphobic, or bi-phobic slur, step forward and educate them about what they said. Advocacy and education look different to everyone, but you will find opportunities to use your voice to help the community move forward.
The LGBTQIA+ community needs affirming and educated clinicians to provide a safe place for them. You can make a difference in your client’s life by helping them grow and accomplish their goals. These tips can help you become a better clinician and provide the best care possible.
Dr. Kristie Overstreet is a clinical sexologist, certified sex therapist, licensed professional clinical counselor, author, speaker, and consultant. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Sexology, Master of Arts in Professional Counseling, and a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She is a licensed counselor in California, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. She is also a Certified Sex Therapist and Certified Addiction Professional. She has over 12 years of clinical experience specializing in sex therapy, transgender healthcare, relationships, and helping counselors build their private practice. She is president of Therapy Department, a private practice that provides counseling, training, speaking, and consulting services across the United States. For more information about Dr. Kristie’s work visit www.KristieOverstreet.com.