(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer or Questioning)
“It is not about who you are but about the challenges that society and others present. It’s also about your journey in being truthful and honest with yourself, and on how to overcome barriers and continue to grow!”
Sexual orientation or gender identify are not are not in itself an issue in need of psychological services. But members of the LGBTQ+ community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer or Questioning) often face discrimination, rejection and marginalization in many ways. Whenever you’re opening to the world, to new frontiers, it can be frustrating and overwhelming at times. This can result in depression, anxiety, undue shame, and self-esteem issues.
Mental Illness in the LGBTQ+ Community
Facts are very alarming
Members of the LGBTQ+ community are at a higher risk for experiencing mental health conditions, especially depression and anxiety disorders. LGBTQ+ adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition (NAMI).
As per HRC, 28% of LGBTQ youth, including 40 percent of transgender youth, felt depressed most or all of the time. And LGBTQ+ young people are more than twice as likely to feel suicidal, and over four times as likely to attempt suicide, compared to heterosexual youth.
NSDUH found that one in three LGBTQ+ adults experienced mental illness, compared with only one in five heterosexual adults.
The sources for experiencing a disproportionate level of mental illness are multiple. And every case for each individual is different and unique. However, regardless of the specifics related to each person, addressing these issues is paramount.
Having the encouragement and assurance of access to the proper supportive and professional guidance is important. It is available! We are here to help you cope and overcome any negative emotional state to help you attain your full potential.
LGBTQ+ Members Common Challenges
Challenges affecting the LGBTQ+ community are numerous and vary according to individual and family, and with the circumstances surrounding the different stages of “becoming”. These issues can affect any individual whether lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer.
Taken on a timeline, the process of awakening to our true self in the midst of a “traditional” family unit, society and community is one of the earliest challenges faced by the individual. This self-discovery process that we all experience in life, challenging by itself, is compounded in the LGBTQ+ community by the ignorance and discrimination that is frequently encountered.
Having a supportive guide throughout this process can make a significant, positive difference in the experience of self-realization. Also, having tools to cope with so many adverse factors is the best way to avoid mental health issues.
As part of this journey, everyone will experience their own individual path that is unique and precious. The goal is to turn it into a self-discovery, positive adventure vs. a shameful, and difficult process. By providing an affirmative psychotherapy approach, I can help you define the best journey in a positive environment geared at your continued growth and self-realization.
The process of self-discovery doesn’t happen in an isolated environment. It’s usually interwound with complex family dynamics. As part of this, most family members have been raised under more traditional norms. And also bring their own set of “what is expected”. Thus, families often lack the understanding, education, empathy and tools when someone close is “different”.
Our journeys often involve our families. And our parents, siblings, children, etc. should understand, support and embrace the individual’s true self. If not addressed properly, this can easily lead to tension, disrespect, and eventual disruption or distancing with other family members.
However, with the proper guidance from an experienced psychologist, the family journey can evolve in a smoother, more supportive and effective way. I am here to help not only you but, also, those who are close to reach a process of mutual respect, understanding and support.
Relationships & Friendships
Relationships overall are complex and challenging. The dynamics of romantic relationships and friendships is further complicated due to dealing with other individuals with their own set of beliefs, issues, and expectations.
As per the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, approximately 39% of LGBTQ+ men and slightly more than 50% of LGBTQ+ women experience abuse from their partners. Many LGBTQ+ youth face more obstacles than heterosexual couples.
Part of the solution is to recognize how much harder it can be for LGBTQ+ individuals to report abuse. Often, abusive LGBTQ relationships are unreported is because of being reluctant to go to the police. One of the obstacles to being more vocal and to report abuse is the worry that LGBTQ+ dating abuse might not be taken seriously. Or, if abuse is reported, that they will have to meet with homophobic counselors or law enforcement representatives.
Another challenge is limited support from family and friends as members of the LGBTQ+ community may not feel comfortable discussing their gender identity openly for fear of rejection or being misunderstood.
Embarking in healthy relationships is necessary. But at the same time, not easy. It is important to have others respect personal limits and incorporating chosen gender pronouns. This together with healthy interactions and communications are part of ensuring desired types of relationships.
As part of working through the complex nature of all relationships it is crucial to have the right tools, validation, non-judgmental support, and guidance. We are here to provide you with a supportive and constructive environment.
It is very common for couples to want children. For LGBTQ+ this can also be a source of joy and fulfillment. But it also implies, at times, non-traditional procedures such as using third parties for reproduction purposes, whether an egg donor or a gestational surrogate.
These processes require significant support from outside professionals (e.g. physicians, attorneys, etc.). Also, deciding to embark on this journey may require undergoing a psychological evaluation.
This can be a great experience, especially if planned properly and when taking the right steps to ensure a smooth outcome. Having a trusted, qualified psychologist as an integral part of the plan and process can make a significant, positive difference.
Some Good News!
We are here to support your journey so you can live with the pride and with the authenticity that you deserve. We provide LGBTQ+ Affirmative Therapy where we understand the issues and treat everyone as a person, an individual, a human being. With authenticity and full acceptance of your sexual orientation we provide a supportive and positive approach. The goal is your happiness and the fulfillment of your potential. We are not here to change who you are but to support who you are!
Whether you have some personal issues, relationship challenges, or you’re a family member, our LGBTQ+ Affirmative Therapy is the right step to help reach your goals.
What is LGBTQ+ Affirmative Therapy
“Affirmative Therapy is an approach to therapy that embraces a positive view of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) identities and relationships and addresses the negative influences that homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism have on the lives of LGBTQ+ clients (Adapted from Rock, M., Carlson, T. S., & McGeorge, C. R.)”.
Being an affirmative therapist includes:
- Self-awareness and reflection on our upbringing, attitudes and beliefs. Also, it is about recognizing the bias of having lived in a binary-based, gender society.
- Involvement and familiarity with the current social justice issues, overall issues that members of the LGBTQ+ community face, and of the social changes and trends.
- Commitment to providing an open and supportive approach to all clients. Being genuine about the care, treatment and outcome of the process. And in an affirmative setting using the preferred nouns and names adapting to clients’ needs.
My Experience with LGBTQ+
Obtaining a Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) ensures comprehensive education and training. Being a Licensed Psychologist, also adds to the certification of competency. Yes, I have the credentials associated with being a Licensed Clinical Psychologist (Psy.D.).
However, having successful experience with LGBTQ+ members is of utmost value.
- Psychologist of the out-patient LGBTQ+ clinic at University of Miami, Jackson Memorial
- Adult and adolescent special immunology clinics
- Working almost exclusively with LGBTQ+ members
- Focus on mental health issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community
- Strong interaction with the psychiatric & medical staff addressing health issues (e.g. HIV, AIDS, opportunistic diseases)
Presentations & Awards
- Psychology Division Award for Research & Scholarly Presentation on the topic of PTSD-HIV
- Co-authored a poster for a Canadian conference on PTSD-HIV among adolescents
- Trinidad-Tobago Assoc. presentation on psychological issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community
- Presentations to Univ. of Miami medical and psychological professionals – medication adherence, and suicide assessment & prevention
- Group Facilitator for LGBTQ+ members on life skills sponsored by the NIMH
I have close family members that are part of the LGBTQ+ community. This has given me an additional, personal perspective. Also, this has provided more insight and I believe it helps me in providing, not just a professional, but also a warm, non-judgmental approach when working with members of the LGBTQ+.
I am here ready to support any of your needs. I answer all my calls directly, no intermediaries!