Affirming Therapy: What Is It & How Does It Help?

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For many members of the LGBTIQ+ community, affirming therapy may be the key to achieving a greater sense of self-worth and purpose.

Many people who identify as LGBTIQ+ have experienced a lack of acceptance and understanding from the people they grew up around. In turn, feelings of shame, guilt, and inadequacy are pretty commonly shared by community members.

These feelings can even develop into serious mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. A study by Stonewall found that “one in eight LGBTIQ+ people ages 18 to 24 had attempted to end their life”, which shows how gravely these issues can impact the community.

Access to an affirming therapist can be a lifeline for those struggling with their sexual orientation and gender identity.

What is Affirming or Affirmative Therapy?

Affirmative therapy is a type of psychotherapy that acknowledges, affirms, and validates the sexual orientation and gender identity of the person undergoing treatment.

It focuses on creating an environment where clients feel safe and accepted regardless of their identity.

Gender identity disorder is a recognized mental health issue in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). Affirming therapy gives a voice to those struggling with their identity, where they can express their feelings without fear of judgment or condemnation.

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Who Can Benefit From Affirmative Therapy?

Affirming therapy is aimed at those struggling to come to terms with their sexual orientation and gender identity. It can help people better understand themselves and create a greater sense of self-worth and purpose.

It is not only for those who identify as LGBTIQ+, however. Affirmative therapy can also benefit heterosexual individuals looking for more understanding or acceptance of their identity.

It is also beneficial to those questioning or exploring their gender and sexual orientation, as it can help them gain clarity and self-confidence.

Family therapy can also be beneficial, as it can help family members understand their loved one’s identity and build stronger relationships.

Especially in today’s society, where societal views on gender and sexuality continue to evolve, affirming therapy can be an invaluable source of support for those in need.

How Does it Work?

The goal of affirming therapy is to create a safe and accepting environment where the client can express their feelings without fear of judgment or criticism.

It focuses on exploring and understanding one’s identity to build greater self-acceptance and confidence. Affirmative therapists will aim to create an atmosphere of open communication and support.

For the therapy to be successful, both the therapist and the client must be aware of their biases regarding gender and sexuality. The therapist should strive to remain unbiased to provide a safe space where the client can explore without fear or judgment.

Dealing with homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia can be extremely difficult, and “just under 99% of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender students aged between 13 and 21″ reported receiving negative and discriminatory remarks about their sexuality or gender identity (according to research by GLSEN).

Affirmative therapy work can help create a sense of empowerment and understanding for those struggling with their identity and give them the tools to deal with any harmful or discriminatory experiences.

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The Importance of Affirmative Therapy for the LGBTQIA+ Community

The same research by GLSEN found that “9 in 10 LGBT students in middle school (91%) were verbally harassed in school because of their sexual orientation”. Discrimination or hatred can be highly isolating and damaging for those exploring their identity or coming to terms with it.

Helping With Mental Illness

Affirmative therapy is an invaluable source of understanding and acceptance for those struggling with their identity, as well as the pressures and judgment they might face from society.

Cases of self-harm, substance abuse, and mental illness are much higher in the LGBTIQ+ community, and affirmative therapy can be an invaluable tool to help those struggling with their identity. By providing a safe space where they can express themselves without judgment or condemnation, affirming therapy can help build self-acceptance and confidence.

There is a long history of poor access and availability of mental health services specifically for the LGBTIQ+ community. Affirmative therapy can be an invaluable resource for those looking for understanding and support.

Where Can You Find Affirmative Therapy?

Thanks to the internet, finding a knowledgeable and experienced therapist in affirmative therapy is easier than ever before. Many online therapy providers now offer a wide range of services tailored to the LGBTIQ+ community.

It is also essential that you do your research before committing to any therapist – make sure that you are comfortable with their approach and qualifications, and any fees they might charge.

If you know of any local support groups or organizations for the LGBTIQ+ community, they may be able to provide more information on affirmative therapy in your area.

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Final Thoughts: How an Affirmative Therapist Can Help Support You

All types of therapy should be easily and readily available for everyone who needs it, but for those within the LGBTIQ+ community, affirmative therapy can be particularly beneficial.

By creating a safe and accepting environment where personal feelings can be expressed without judgment or criticism, an affirmative therapist can give those struggling with their identity greater understanding and acceptance. The tools they provide can also help empower people to deal with any harmful or discriminatory experiences they might be facing.

No matter what your gender or sexual identity is, affirmative therapy can help build self-esteem and confidence and provide the necessary support for those who are struggling with their identity.


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