What To Expect From Gay Counseling

If you’re considering counseling, you might be a little unclear about what you can expect. Your uncertainty is probably higher if you identify yourself as gay or lesbian. Read on if you’ve had trouble finding the right counselor or just have questions about getting started in therapy.

Trust And Acceptance From A Well-Chosen Counselor

If you choose a counselor carefully, you’ll find one with a high level of acceptance of the gay and lesbian population. Instead of seeming uncomfortable or avoiding challenging sexual topics, your counselor will be able to truly work with you. They’ll be aligned with you through any problem you face. Any questions or uncertainties will be addressed with respect and honesty.

This is the way it should be for all counseling experiences, but people seeking gay counseling often have greater challenges finding good support. When you feel respected and accepted from the start, you’ll have an easier time building trust with your counselor. With more trust, you’ll be more likely to open up with difficult issues and follow their recommendations. Take care in the first few sessions to be sure your counselor is a good fit for you.

Specific Understanding Of Gay and Lesbian Challenges

Whether you are coming to counseling as an individual or as a couple, you’ll want to find a therapist with training and experience working with the gay and lesbian population. They’ll simply have a better understanding about the stressors and mental health risks you may be facing. You may have faced bullying, depression, or even suicidal thoughts in your past.

Many people who identify as gay or lesbian have had struggles with their personal identity or have felt confused about their sexuality. Even if you need gay counseling for something like anxiety or bipolar disorder, your sexuality has likely played a part in your struggle. A counselor who really understands this can help you face your concerns with warmth and support. This expertise can be invaluable if you’ve often felt left out, confused, or stressed because of how you identify your sexuality.

Good Couples Counseling

No matter how sexuality plays a part, intimate relationships require a lot of effort from each partner. A couple is likely to face a lot of ups and downs both together and as individuals. These challenges can toss any relationship upside down from time to time. While gay couples do have some special concerns, they also just need good couples counseling at times.

Each partner in a relationship has their own personal history and their history as a couple. They may have job problems, family issues, questions about the future of the relationship, and many other stressors. A counselor can help each partner sort out the issues, understand how these have affected the relationship negatively, and help the partners open up to each other. If you feel like this is something that could help your relationship, know that there are very good counseling options for you.

Sex Educaton for Teens

Talking about sex with your teenage daughter or son is difficult already however it is also difficult and uneasy for them to hear it from their parents. Most teens don’t want to face the fact that their parents actually do have sex and that is how they were brought about! Now of course they know how they were brought into this world but they don’t want to hear all the horrid stories about the so called “birds and the bees” story as you don’t feel comfortable talking to them about it. If you talk to them from the time they are little about anything and everything and you have given them the comfort of knowing there is no closed door on any subject they will feel a sense of comfort and know your care and concern. It’s that open door policy that I use with my children. My daughter knew what a tampon was at the age of 4 however she didn’t know all of the details but she knew it was for ladies to use for one week out of the month called our “lady time” and I see nothing wrong with making her aware of what it was called without sugar coating it or lying to her or saying nothing.

Sex educating our teens is a very important conversation that I feel is very much needed in depth with them and not just about pregnancy. Yes, pregnancy does occur however it’s not the only discussion that should be talked about. This is why giving them the accessibility of condoms is a very good idea. That way they can be protected at all times. When a girl starts her menstrual cycle it’s probably a good idea to get her regulated on birth control pills if she is into having sex. Sex education for teens is a very important thing for teens these days to hear.

HIV is one of the most deadly diseases of all that a person can get from being sexually active. Do you know how many partners has the person you are sleeping with has slept with? The reason for the question is because you are sleeping with every person he/she has slept with and vice versa. You don’t know all of the sexual history that a person has and they don’t know that about you either and it becomes a viscous cycle. You can and should get tested every 6 months because as previously stated it is a silent killer and sometimes goes undetected without proper testing and it could become too late and you don’t want that to happen.

As one parent to the next I suggest that you discuss every angle there is about educating your teen about sex education for teens. If you are a little nervous about it you can read some books on how to talk to them to break the ice and not sound so scared or make them so vulnerable or afraid or embarrassed when doing so. You can go to your local library and read up on some books that can help you better talk to them on their level but also as a parent. I know for me there was a cute book all about sex education for teens that I read and I’m sorry I can’t recall the name but there are some good one’s out there that you can get to help you level with your teen. It is very important to be able to have that line of communication open because when they do have (and they will) sex for the first time (if still under your roof) you will want them to come to you for advice or help. You need to prepare them with all the tools to keep them safe. Make sure they have condoms in their wallet and purses and make sure they have money to call home with if they need you or their cell phones are charged when they leave out on a date. Just be there for them, sometimes they just want someone to listen. Don’t pry they will come to you if you make them realize that line of communication is open and just be prepared because it’s never easy. Just know that you have given them all the information and tools needed to help them make the right decision when it comes to sex education for teens!

Dealing With Sex and Power in Feminist Counselling

Like all counsellors, feminist counsellors address the problems and confusions that are at the heart of the client’s current difficulties. However, feminist counsellors seek to help clients grow in awareness as to how their lives have been affected and curtailed by living in a male-dominated society. Hence, many issues that are raised by a client are explored, not only in terms of the woman’s personal experiences and relationships, but also in terms of gender stereotypes and power-relations.

From how women feel about their bodies, to how women’s sexuality is exploited, abused and trivialised, feminist counsellors explore these issues with clients to give them a greater picture of how their own problems, fears, and sense of inferiority are closely entwined with patriarchal values and social constructions.

Sex and Power

Unlike mainstream counsellors, feminist counsellors explore the ways in which sex and relationships are connected to politics. In terms of sex-roles and stereotypes, both socialised sex and politics are both inextricably bound up with power. For millennia, women have been exploited in patriarchal cultures (Vesel-Mander and Kent-Rush: 1974, 22). Worell and Remer (1992, 92) view feminist therapy as focusing on helping clients identify the influence of social rules, sex-role socialisation, institutionalised sexism and other kinds of oppression on personal experience. Feminists of all backgrounds converge on the fact that every area of a woman’s life is affected by gender inequalities. Women’s bodies and their sexuality is the arena where patriarchal control and violence is most commonly displayed.

Women are faced with many opposing images and views of female sexuality. For centuries women were categorised as virgin, mother or whore. Within all major religions female sexuality is viewed as a temptation, leading innocent males towards sin. Patriarchal laws devised ways of controlling female sexuality, making it permissible only within the sanctity of marriage. In Victorian England a woman who enjoyed or pursued sexual pleasure was labelled mentally sick, was often committed to an asylum or was deemed to be in need of a gruesome operation to make her sexually passive, so that she could no longer enjoy sex. Since the 1960s a woman is often deemed to be liberated only if she is having sex with many partners (Worell and Remer (1992).

Feminist counsellors explore these deeply powerful and contradictory stereotypes with clients, teasing out how they have affected women’s choices, and the expression of their needs and feelings. According to Vesel-Mander and Kent-Rush (1974, 51), feminism seeks to bring out the validity of the woman’s own experience, and to challenge society’s artificial norms about what women should and should not want sexually.

Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence

Many feminist counsellors specialise in working with women who have suffered sexual abuse or violence. Sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence and pornography are crimes that are viewed by feminists as ways in which the patriarchy keeps women frightened and controlled. Feminist counsellors will not only explore the woman’s personal experience of abuse but will also look at society’s values and stereotypes that create male abusers and female victims.
Women who have been raped may agonise over what it was in their dress or behaviour that precipitated the attack, a question that would be considered ludicrous in any other violent crime. Feminist counsellors work with their clients to help them realise that the crime was in no way instigated by them. Men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of violence and sexual abuse against women. This violence is not about isolated incidents, but occurs in many contexts, from private and familial, to public (Walsh and Liddy: 1989).

MacLeod (1990, 1) is highly critical of the counselling which women who have suffered domestic violence receive from mainstream counsellors. She states that “mainstream treatment approaches used in social service or health agencies and by private medical, psychological and social work practitioners have been attacked for blaming the woman.” She goes on to add that mainstream counsellors often look for weaknesses or pathologies within the woman to explain the violence, minimising or ignoring the responsibility of the violent partner for his actions, and overlooking the social values and institutions that condone violence against women and children. Criticism of mainstream counselling is also made by MacLeod (1990) for its failure to understand the seriousness of the violence and the continued danger many abused women experience, even after separating or divorcing from a violent partner. Also, mainstream counselling often emphasises treatment based on keeping the family together, while failing to recognise the power imbalance that exists between men and women which reinforces abuse (MacLeod, 1990, 2).

Body Image

The way in which women are portrayed in advertising and pornography is also addressed by feminist counsellors. Women are groomed by culture to view themselves as objects, which must match a particular shape and style to fit in with perceived notions of beauty and desire. Despite all the political advances which feminists have achieved over many decades, women still learn to judge their worth by their physical appearance, bodies, faces, hair and clothes (Wolfe: 1991).

Feminist counsellors view such issues as low self-esteem due to poor body image, the use of cosmetic surgery for non-medical treatment, and such problems as bulimia and anorexia nervosa as being largely the result of patriarchal conditioning and exploitation. Psychotherapist, Susie Orbach (1993) explores the reasons why many women become anorexic. In the United States alone, one hundred and fifty thousand women die from the effects of anorexia. For Orbach (1993) the psychological roots of this form of self-inflicted violence are embedded when the woman initially tries to transform her body into that which will be acceptable to society. She surpasses society’s demands that a woman be thin and desirable and instead goes on a form of hunger strike, trying to control even her most basic need for food as she has been brought-up to deny her emotional needs.

Feminist counsellors seek to help a woman begin to nurture herself, to learn to love and respect her own body. This helps the woman to grow in self-esteem, and to regain her sense of internal power. Vesel-Mander and Kent-Rush (1974, 56) recommend that feminist counsellors use body therapies because a great deal of women’s oppression is biological. As a result of centuries of negative programming, women need to do a great deal of healing on their bodies and body images.