Culturally Competent Mental Health Care For The LGBT Community

October 17, 2015

Culturally Competent Mental Health Care for the LGBT Community

By Stephanie Simpson, LCSW

There are endless factors that can prevent an individual from seeking mental health treatment. Stigma, fear of judgment, and being vulnerable are some of the more common worries. However, for the gay community, seeking treatment can be an especially daunting undertaking.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the gay population to represent at least 5 percent of the population. This includes individuals who identify as homosexual, bisexual, or “something else.” This number does not even include the transgendered community. Sadly, there is a very high number of gay individuals who suffer form depression, anxiety or other troubling conditions. What this means is that it is critical for mental health professionals to provide unbiased treatment, and be mindful of heterosexism that might be embedded in their treatment approach.

This notion goes far beyond recognizing our own personal beliefs and biases that could potentially steer a potential client away, or surface in treatment with a gay client. Mental health professionals need to be careful about their language selection from the first point of contact with the client. A simple question such as “Are you married? What is your husband’s name?” could cause a gay individual to feel uncomfortable to the point that they avoid seeking treatment.

Therapists have a professional obligation to provide treatment that is sensitive to the needs of special populations, including the LGBT community. It is critical to receive gay-sensitivity training and ensure that they are providing care that is welcoming and inclusive.

If you or someone who love is in need of therapy, please contact Associates in Psychotherapy at (866) 220-8371 for a consultation.