CBT Therapy in the LGBTIQ+ community
Every year, during the month of June, the LGBTIQ+ community celebrates Pride month. Across the globe, various events are held during this special month as a way of recognising the influence LGBTIQ+ people have had around the world. Why was June chosen? Because it is when the Stonewall Riots took place, way back in 1969.
Some people identify as LGBTIQ+. This stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, non-binary, queer or questioning. Others may define their gender and sexual orientation in different ways. Anyone can experience a mental health problem, but those who identify as LGBTIQ+ are more likely to report issues like:
- Low self-esteem
- Anxiety, including social anxiety
- Eating problems
- Problems with using drugs and alcohol
- Suicidal feelings
Transgender youth are far more likely than their non-transgender peers to experience depression — nearly four times the risk, according to one study (Reisner 2015). Similarly, LGBQ teens experience significantly more depression symptoms than their heterosexual peers (Marshal 2011). Being LGBTIQ+ does not cause these problems. The reasons why those with LGBTIQ+ identities are more likely to experience ill-mental health are complicated, for example people that ‘came out’ in school years are 4 times more likely to have attempted suicide in adulthood.
Pride Month is important as it is a month-long celebration that provides an opportunity to peacefully protest and raise political awareness of current issues facing the community. Parades are a prominent feature of Pride month, alongside community events, festivals, rallies, public speaking, and educational sessions, many of which are covered by mainstream media and attract millions of participants.
Unfortunately, despite all the awareness and celebration within the community, many still face discrimination to this day. As a result, their mental health can be affected in lots of different ways.
Here are some more psychological impacts people can face:
- Anxiety & Depression about ‘coming out’ in the first place
- Shame about their how people like to be identified (sometimes linked to societal pressures)
- Frustration or confusion about their future choices (with relationships)
- Concern for being discriminated against based on their sexual orientation
- Stress about what their true identity is and what this means for them
- Fears of rejection and actual strained or broken family bonds
- Simple everyday issues like restroom access
While being part of the LGBTIQ+ community is more widely celebrated these days, discrimination and negative societal views are still apparent. People should feel a sense of elation when identifying who they genuinely are, but often it can be an uphill struggle for many. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help make that journey more comfortable.
How can CBT help the LGBTIQ+ community?
- It will address thoughts and feelings around emotional and psychological difficulties, e.g, managing a traumatic coming out process
- It will help you understand your identity more clearly in the context of sexual orientation
- It will break down negative emotions linked to sexual identity
- It will help with the full acceptance of who you are
- It will provide you with a toolkit for the future
Using CBT, you can catch yourself having unhelpful thoughts or engaging in negative self-talk, both of which can undermine your self-confidence and make you feel depressed or anxious. How you approach these unhelpful thoughts and self-talk can help you work out different ways of thinking and identify helpful behaviours so you can cope better; whatever life may bring.
If you are struggling with your mental health due to your identity or for any other reason, CBT can help you. All our therapists are BABCP accredited, which is the highest standard a psychotherapist can hold.