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Coming Out and Gay Affirmative Therapy

By Dr. Aileen Alleyne DPsych MA Counselling & Psychotherapy
Dr. Aileen Alleyne offers Counselling, Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR), Psychotherapy
  • Are you looking for a helpful professional to talk to and who could provide a positive framework to help you with difficulties relating to your sexual orientation or being in a same sex relationship?
  • Would you prefer the anonymity of seeing a therapist who is based outside of the close and busy hub of Brighton?
  • Are you seeking help in accepting your lesbian or gay identity as a positive thing?
  • Are you struggling with issues of coming out as gay, lesbian or bisexual?
  • Are you at cross-roads with your sexual identity as a gay man, lesbian or bisexual because of internalized homophobia?
  • Are you experiencing alienation and needing support with self-esteem and confidence issues?
  • Are you seeking help with relationship difficulties?
  • Is your race and being gay, lesbian or bisexual presenting difficulties for you and/or your family?
  • Are your religious beliefs in conflict with your sexual orientation or are you torn between the loyalties of your faith and your sexual identity?
  • Do you wish to explore issues of being gay and becoming a parent or dealing with parenthood?
  • Are you struggling with issues of loss, change, unfinished business that need closure and negotiation new transitions?
If any of the above is relevant to your personal circumstances, and you feel you need support, then you might benefit from talking to an experienced counsellor or psychotherapist who could help you explore, develop new understanding and find solutions to your problems.
 

Why Gay Affirmative Therapy?

Gay affirmative therapy is an approach to counselling that emphasizes an affirming, non-pathologising approach to the therapeutic work with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients. Gay affirmative therapy encourages acceptance of the individual’s sexual orientation, and does not attempt to change gay people to heterosexual, or eliminate or diminish same-sex desires and behaviors.
 
The gay affirmative therapist affirms a lesbian, bisexual or gay identity as a positive thing, without necessarily pushing anyone towards it.
 
Gay affirmative therapy also requires therapists to become sensitized to the role of homophobia in the psyches of gay men, bisexuals and lesbians, so they can recognize the difficulties associated with the internalization of homophobia.
 
Although gay affirmative therapy prioritizes the importance of gay sexuality and gay identity, the work is also about dealing with everyday issues in life that affect sense of self and progress. Such issues can include, relationship difficulties which can bring ‘emotional skeletons’ to the fore, managing change and life transitions, dealing with unresolved emotions of grief and loss that need closure, just to name a few.
 
The therapy process can focus on more immediate concerns and difficulties that you are facing in the present, as well as help uncover deeper underlining issues that are the root cause of your presenting problems.      

Coming Out

Coming out has been a very positive experience for many people. However, coming to terms with confusion about identity can have both positive and negative effects on many aspects gay people’s lives, including social relationships, work, and self-esteem. Coming out can be a difficult time and for many lesbian, gay and bisexual people, the anticipation and fear of negative reactions, rejection and upsetting people who are close, can be major obstacles. In some cultures, this process can be made harder because of particular attitudes and beliefs about homosexuality.  
 
Coming out is something that can take place at any point in life, as the process of coming to terms with sexual feelings can take a long time. Coming out is not a single action, it is a process of negotiating many stages of change which can leave you feeling confused and different. Although everyone's coming out experience is unique to them, and various factors such as gender, ethnicity and age may influence this process, there are some key stages that have to be negotiated.
 
First, it is important to deal with issues of feeling ‘different’ and any confusion about your identity in order to personally come to terms and accept being lesbian, gay or bisexual. Secondly, there is the task of disclosing your identity to others and dealing with their reactions. Thirdly, there is the challenge of making relationships and finding intimacy. Fourthly, there are factors that affect the coming out process, such as age, race, religion, cultural beliefs, and role in society, which may have to be addressed at various points in living one’s identity.  
 
Coming out as gay, lesbian or bisexual can be very daunting, but for most, it is a worthwhile process. The ultimate desire is to develop a sense of contentment with being gay, lesbian or bisexual, and accept your choice as being a valid way of life. The experience of being in a relationship or falling in love often helps people to feel more confident, fulfilled and able to combat the social stigma that they may suffer.
 
The main thing you should remember is that you will have to only do this once and only you will know when the time is right to come out. Coming out for the first time is something you will remember for the rest of your life, so do feel free to seek any help in negotiating this important rite of passage.

About Your Therapist

I am a UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) registered psychotherapist and qualified counsellor with over 17 years of practice in the field. I maintain a keen interest in working with identity issues, cultural isolation, shame, transitions and self-empowerment. I facilitate this work with members from various cultural groups, very much including sexual and ethnic minorities.
 
The counselling and psychotherapy service is based in the Newhaven Marina (BN9 9GG), just 30 minutes drive from Brighton or Eastbourne or a little less on the train. The therapy venue is a few minutes walk from Newhaven Town railway station and parking space is abundant.

This content remains the copyright of the author and may not be reproduced without their prior permission in writing.

This content was written by RSCPP Therapist Dr. Aileen Alleyne:


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