Early editions of the DSM identified homosexuality as a “disorder” and advised people to seek hideous forms of treatment such as aversion therapy, to “cure them”. Thankfully, the world and clinical understanding, has moved on, and same sex attraction is now seen seen as a positive, healthy, and natural expression of human sexuality.
So why, with all this acceptance and understanding are we still referring to issues within LGBT relationships as “LGBT issues”? Or to an LGBT person suffering with depression, as someone suffering from an “LGBT identity crisIs”?
Whilst this is not always the case, it is certainly more often than needs to be. It would appear that when somebody identifies their sexual orientation as being “not heterosexual”, their “sexuality” is always a “theme” in the narrative of them and their story.
I don’t wish to undermine the fact that for some people, their sexuality IS a huge part of their identity and something they are very proud to have as a narrative “theme”, but that is not true for every non-heterosexual person. So why not allow the person to decide if their sexual orientation is an “issue”, before we do?
I have had the pleasure of working with a wide variety of people from different backgrounds, cultures, ages and yes, sexual orientation and my take on “LGBT issues”, is that they are very similar to “non-LGBT issues”. Relationships go through difficult times and have a variety of storms to weather, this is true for both heterosexual and LGBT relationships. People encounter testing periods in their life where they feel lost, or lonely, or sad, and this is a truism for all people on the planet, irrespective of their sexual orientation.
I approach ‘LGBT therapy” in the exact same way I approach non-LGBT therapy with an open heart, open ears and an open mind. I hold all of my clients in unconditional, positive regard, and seek to help them find the healthiest, happiest version of them, whatever that may be.
Again, I do not wish to undervalue those who feel very strongly that their sexuality is an integral part of how they view the world and how the world views them, I simply wish to offer the idea that everybody is a complex bundle of emotions, experiences, memories and feelings, and there is not necessarily any need to categorise these states by gender, race, or sexuality. They are simply the “human condition”. If I did have an “approach” to working with LGBT clients, it would be to encourage the view that whatever beginning, middle or end of the sexuality spectrum you sit on, you are perfect, just as you are.