People who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or by another sexual/gender identity often find it difficult to access personal counselling. One of the most important elements in effective therapy is the relationship between client and counsellor. As a LGBTQ+ person it is vital that you are in a safe environment and that your counsellor does not have overt or unspoken prejudices toward you. In addition, it can be extremely helpful to the counselling process when the therapist has an understanding/knowledge of some of the issues commonly faced by those within the LGBTQ+ community.
In my training as a personal counsellor I was surprised by the lack of awareness demonstrated by some of my peers and observed that many held outdated or prejudiced views. I have always felt driven to work within the community so when creating Cherry Orchard Therapy one of my aims was to provide a service with an overt focus on supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
Cherry Orchard Therapy is dedicated to providing a safe environment for LGBTQ+ clients that is welcoming, informed and free of judgement.
Background and Training
While working with 56 Dean Street which is a sexual health clinic in the heart of Soho, I decided to become a Personal Counsellor . I volunteered as a Chemsex support worker and would talk to gay men who were struggling with substance misuse. This particular issue was closely tied to sexuality and sexual expression. It became clear to me that although it may seem to an outsider that society is becoming more accepting toward LGBTQ+ people, in reality many of us struggle to accept who we are or to feel as though we belong.
Since qualifying I have been a counsellor with Metro which is an equality and diversity charity. I have gained experience working with a range of clients from across the LGBTQ+ community. I am also a registered member of Pink Therapy which is a directory of therapists and health professionals in the UK who identify as or are understanding of gender and sexual minorities.
We are all unique and respond to life’s challenges differently therefore it is important that counsellors do not make assumptions about their clients. There are however issues that do seem to be particularly prevelant in the LGBTQ+ community. To name just a few, I have worked with clients as they transition, question their gender identity, recover from sexual assault, come to terms with a HIV+ diagnosis and experience rejection from their family/community/religious groups.
Parents, family and friends
Parents, family and friends of LGBTQ+ people can also struggle as people they love ‘come out’ or transition. There is often shame associated with this kind of struggle and it is important clients feel able to explore feelings in a nonjudgmental environment. Parents, family and friends of LGBTQ+ people are welcome at Cherry Orchard Therapy.