LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Support

Life Supports proudly offers LGBTQIA+-friendly* counselling to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans/gender diverse communities, including people who are intersex or identify as genderqueer, nonbinary or gender-questioning. We understand that the concerns LGBTQIA+ clients bring to counselling are often universal to all people - and not necessarily related to their personal sexual orientation or gender identity. Most importantly, we’re committed to providing a safe, nonjudgmental and accepting therapeutic environment for our LGBTQIA+ clients. * Also known as LGBTIQ - see glossary below

"There is an incredibly strong evidence base that supports positive counselling outcomes for LGBTQI clients."

Our counselling services for all clients include:

 

In addition to these services, we offer specialist counselling support to LGBTQIA+ clients for the following concerns:

  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Homophobia
  • Biphobia
  • Transphobia
  • Isolation
  • Discrimination
  • Coming out
  • Trauma
  • Stress

 

LGBTQIA+ discrimination and stress

Recent sociocultural shifts and legal reforms have significantly increased the potential for LGBT people to openly live fulfilling lives, with a range of the same rights and protections afforded to heterosexual and cisgendered people.

Many LGBTQI people live happy, rewarding lives with the full support of their family, friends, work colleagues and community.

Yet discrimination and stigma still persist. This means that LGBT people are vulnerable to a unique set of stressors which result from living as a sexual minority in a predominantly heterocentric world. Prejudice, discrimination, bullying, social marginalisation - and in some cases physical violence - can result in acute and chronic low-level stress for LGBT people.

The need to be hypervigilant about the possibility of negative social attitudes or stigmatisation can severely impact the health and wellbeing of LGBT people. This ongoing stress can result in experiences of isolation, shame, anxiety and trauma. Specialist LGBT-friendly counselling can help you to effectively navigate the experience of living in a world where social stigma and discrimination still lingers. LGBT people are already incredibly resilient: strengths-based counselling can help to enhance your existing coping strategies and stress management skills, alleviating anxiety and reducing chronic stress.

LGBTQIA+ mental health and relationships

LGBTQIA+ people face elevated rates of psychological distress due to social stigma and prejudice, which can adversely affect their self-esteem, sexuality and relationships with others. Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia can also create significant mental health challenges for LGBTQIA+ people. Counselling can help to address these issues and support LGBTQIA+ people to live confidently within their sexual orientation and gender identity.

 

60 to 76% of LGBTQIA+ people report positive, long-term improvements in both mood and relationships after seeking counselling support.

In addition to the common relationship issues faced by heterosexual couples, domestic violence and sexual coercion is also prevalent in LGBTQIA+ couples, with 30% of same-sex attracted people reporting intimate partner violence in their relationships. Therapeutic relationship and anger management counselling for LGBT individuals and couples addresses these challenges and can significantly improve mental health and relationship outcomes.

Coming out as LGBTQIA+

Contrary to popular belief, publicly affirming one’s sexuality or gender doesn’t happen in one big reveal for most people. More frequently, coming out is a gradual process that happens in stages - or not at all for some people. In fact, only 50% of LGBTQIA+ Australians are out to their entire personal and professional circles. You might choose to come out to your parents, family, friends, or workmates. But for many people, there are cultural, religious or professional considerations that shape and inform when - and who - they choose to share their LGBTQIA+ identity with.

 

Our counsellors and psychologists offer client-centred support that is sensitive to the complex needs of LGBTQIA+ clients navigating the process of affirming their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Although most people have a positive coming out experience, for some people the experience can be stressful, scary and isolating if the reception isn’t what was hoped for. It’s incredibly important to have a strategic approach to coming out that prioritises your safety and wellbeing.

Counselling is a safe place to explore your concerns both before and after you tell people that you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or otherwise sexually or gender-diverse. Other people may still feel confused or undecided about their gender or sexual orientation, or may not want to label their sex or gender identity. LGBT-affirmative counselling can help you to clarify your feelings and thoughts about your sexuality and/or gender identity, and effectively address any associated concerns you may have.

Support for parents of LGBTQIA+ youth 

If you’re the parent, carer or family member of a young person who identifies as LGBTQIA+, you may be wondering how you can best support them. Whether you think your child may be LGBTQIA+, or they have come out to you as sexually or gender diverse, family and parenting counselling can help you process the thoughts and emotions you’re experiencing.

Although many parents experience a sense of relief when their child trusts them by confiding their sexual or gender identity, for some parents feelings of surprise, confusion, and fear for their child’s future safety and wellbeing may surface. LGBTQIA-friendly counselling can help you and your family to explore and process any concerns or fears you may have about your child’s LGBT identity. Counselling can also clarify practical, meaningful support strategies that ensure your family is strongly equipped to deal with any challenges that arise in future.

Our LGBTQIA-friendly counsellors and psychologists

One of the most common questions our LGBTQIA+ clients ask is whether their Life Supports counsellor or psychologist identifies as LGBTQIA+. Just as we don’t screen or discriminate based on age, faith beliefs or ethnicity, nor do we ask our practitioners to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity. All members of the Life Supports network have passed our rigorous accreditation standards based on their qualifications and counselling skills.

Life Supports counsellors and psychologists are trained and skilled at working with concerns and needs commonly experienced by people who identify as LGBTQIA+, their partners and their families. Our practitioners are respectful, nonjudgmental and attuned to the unique challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals seeking professional therapeutic support for a broad range of concerns.

For appointments or enquiries, please call 1300 735 030 or leave us an email via our contact page.

 

LGBTQI: Glossary of terms

Asexual A term used to describe someone who does not experience sexual attraction toward individuals of any gender

Biphobia Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against bisexual people.

Bisexual Someone who is emotionally and sexually attracted to both men and women.

Cisgender Someone who identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth.

Coming out Acknowledging to yourself or others that you are LGBTQIA+.

Gay Someone who is emotionally and sexually attracted to someone of the same gender. The term is most frequently used in reference to same-sex attracted men, but may also be applied to women (see also: lesbian).

Gender identity Someone’s personal lived experience of their own gender, which may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth.

Genderqueer Someone who identifies as a gender other than male or female - or who identifies as neither, both, or some combination thereof.

Gender-questioning Someone who is exploring their gender identity. Questioning may also apply to sexual orientation.

Homophobia Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against same-sex-attracted people.

Heterocentric Widely-held assumption (cultural, social, political) that heterosexuality and cisgenderism are ‘normal’ or the preferred sexual orientation and gender status.

Intersex Umbrella term for people born with a variance in their reproductive or sexual anatomy: they do not fit the typical definition of a ‘male’ or ‘female’ body.

Lesbian A woman who is emotionally and sexually attracted to other women.

LGBT Umbrella term that refers to people who are sexuality, sex and/or gender diverse (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans). The acronym may also appear as LGBTQIA+ or LGBTIQ (the 'Q' stands for queer or questioning, the 'I' stands for intersex, and the 'A' represents asexuality).

Nonbinary A distinct gender identity that doesn’t conform to the male/female gender binary.

Transgender Someone whose gender identity and/or gender expression is different to their sex assigned at birth. Transgender individuals may identify as female, male, both genders or neither.

Transphobia Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against transgender people.

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