There is this whole world that could be open to them if counselors, institutions and families supported them. Encourage clients to connect with other same-sex parents; even in isolated communities, that can be possible through social networking opportunities. After interviewing five couples who were full-time parents to biological or adopted children under the age of 18, Patton says he found each of the men and their stories to be unique. Educate yourself and remain open-minded. Michael Chaney knew from a very young age that he was gay, a fact that meant he also had years to process what it meant to be gay. Developmentally, building a support network and self-exploration are things that most college students are working through. Helping them learn to accept themselves and feel whole again is important, she says, and Gestalt techniques can effectively address such issues.
Spirituality can be both an important and challenging topic when it comes to LGBT clients, says Robert Dobmeier, an assistant professor and coordinator of the mental health program in the Department of Counselor Education at the College at Brockport, a campus of the State University of New York.
Counseling issues with gay and lesbian adolescents.
An additional source of stress can present itself if LGBT individuals fear retribution from God or have feelings of guilt due to religious messages that proclaim gay and lesbian sexual orientation as sinful, Dobmeier says. Dobmeier suggests that counselors help these clients to recognize available options and provide support as they work through the decision. As is the case with many other clients, LGBT clients often come to session seeking help with relationship problems, whether family, social or personal, Mahon says. When Megan Mahon, an assistant professor of counseling at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio, gives presentations to her fellow counselors on improving their interactions with LGBT clients, her first piece of advice is to start at the door. Mahon stresses the importance of counselors possessing a foundation in affirmative therapy to address the wide range of issues with which LGBT clients might present.
The intake paperwork is also crucial in making a first impression, Mahon says, so it should feature inclusive language. Mahon stresses the importance of counselors possessing a foundation in affirmative therapy to address the wide range of issues with which LGBT clients might present. Visit the ALGBTIC website for resources, take advantage of professional development opportunities at conferences and workshops, keep up with research and journal articles, and get supervision from someone with experience. As part of the initiative, lecturers are being invited to campus to speak on the topic. While working in the university counseling center, Mahon heard many stories about her LGBT clients coming out to their families and how their parents reacted by cutting off all communication, or how clients came out to a roommate only to have the roommate move out. To assist these clients, Patton says counselors should model supportive, responsive and optimistic connection. They are, after all, parents and lovers, so they have been doing something well.