LGBTI counselling is for people that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans/transgender or intersex. It also includes counselling for people with gender or sexual expression that lies outside Australian society's dominant paradigm.
Whilst LGBTI people can experience the same issues as others in the community, counselling must have an awareness of the specific issues facing members of this broad community. Not least of this is the higher incidence of mental health problems affecting members of this community.
Who LGBTI counselling helps
LGBTI counselling, by it's nature, helps a widely diverse group of people. Whilst including lesbian and gay members of the community, LGBTI counselling values inclusion and diversity; this umbrella term also includes other people whose gender and/or sexual expression and/or identity are not well understood or catered to by the mainstream counselling community.
I have been working with members of the LGBTI since my internship with VicAIDS more than a decade ago. I also have experience in counselling people who have open relationships, practice polyamory, or struggling with a challenging aspect of their sexuality.
Why it works
Working with clients with a wide range of gender and sexual identity requires an approach that is accepting, affirming and open. It requires an awareness of the unique issues and lived experience of this community and a familiarity with some of the unique aspects that LGBTI encounter in their relationships.
It also has an awareness of the stigma, discrimination and marginalisation that members of this community regularly experience. This experience can lead to shame, isolation and trauma.
It also recognises that LGBTI people are not defined solely by their LGBTI experience; they have other identities – as coworkers, parents, children and citizens.
People compare counselling to talking to a good friend or to a family member. Talking to friends or a member of a family can really help you sort out problems. However, our friends and family are sometimes too close to the problem; this can lead to you saying something and regretting it; worse, friends and members of the family might be invested in a particular solution.
One of the reasons that professional counselling works is that you're working with somebody who values openness and acceptance as core principles. Further, they are committed to helping you solve your problems but not invested in any particular outcome.
What to expect
All people are entitled to be respected and accepted for who they are. Starting from this core principle, we'll spend some time talking through your situation and what you're hoping to get from counselling. I'll let you know if I can help you with your situation; if I can, we can set up some further sessions to start to address what's going on.
As the counselling progresses, you can expect to get a deeper understanding of why these situations occur, why they keep occurring, and what you can do about them.
My initial consultation is at no cost and there is no further obligation. I offer counselling in Richmond and Sunbury; let's work out if there's a way I can help you.
National LGBTI Health Alliance (2014) ‘Working therapeutically with LGBTI clients: a practice wisdom resource‘ Newtown, NSW