This June, we are celebrating Pride month by asking our clinicians to think about their role as a therapist to the LGBTQIA community and what Pride means to us here in New York City, the home of Stonewall and where “everyone is welcome”.
“Working with the LGBTQIA community reminds me of our collective humanity, and helps me appreciate the universality of the human struggle. It expands my personal and professional perspective.” – Dr. Julia Samton, co-founder and Psychiatrist
“For me working to support the queer community means supporting human freedom. Freedom for the queer community and for everyone else, too. Human beings are dazzlingly diverse in every way and I am honored to provide a space where that diversity can be celebrated, explored, and fiercely protected.” – Melissa Wright Cemel, LCSW
For those who are interested in learning more about the rights of the LGBTQ community let’s take a look at a few key facts:
In the U.S., we have come a long way in the last 50 years; the civil rights movement of the 1960s also led to the birth of a movement that advocated for freedom and rights for the LGBTQ community starting with the Stonewall protests of 1969 and reached its height of success when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states in June 2015.
“For me, it is a privilege to work with the LGBTQIA community. I consider myself a fervent ally and value LGBTQIA-affirming treatment modalities. Everyone deserves a safe, nonjudgmental space to be seen and heard. I continued to work hard to ensure that my therapy practice is a safe space for the community which is reinforced by love, dignity, and respect. Happy Pride Month!!!” – Elba Sette-Camara, MFA, LCSW-R
“Being an LGBTQIA affirming therapist means that I aim to provide a space and energy for all clients to feel welcome, seen, and validated for their human-ness. It is important to me to be curious, acknowledge my limitations, and provide a blank page for my clients to tell their stories. Alongside holding this space, I engage in my own self-reflection of my story and challenge heterosexism and the gender binary in and out of sessions. I may not always be “right,” and I am not afraid to risk my vulnerability and humility to “get it right.” Happy Pride!” – Chrissy Knopp (she|her|hers), LCSW
Those rights include the hopeful eradication of all kinds of discrimination against the LGBTQ community and the right to be open about sexual orientation on every social, political, economic, and cultural level of society, without fear of retaliation.
“Like the symbol of the colorful flag, working with the LGBTQ community symbolizes togetherness for me. We are all in this struggle for acceptance and equality together. Pride is a positive connotation for me about the LGBTQ community and how we should all feel about who we are as unique individuals. I continuously learn from my clients, the news, and the LGBTQ community which makes me a better clinician and better person.” – Jackie Segal, LCSW
“During Pride month and every month, I celebrate working with people from diverse backgrounds. It is my honor and privilege as a therapist to learn from the lived experience of others and work toward making our world a more comfortable place for people of all identities.” – Holly Alderman, LCSW
Life was not always openly supportive like this for the LGBTQ community and certainly is quite difficult in other parts of the world. In many countries, there is great suffering, shame, arrest, bullying, and all kinds of awful violence perpetrated against the LGBTQ community. As a result, those in the LGBTQ community are more likely to have a substance abuse problem, engage in self-harm behaviors, and/or experience suicidal thoughts than someone not in this community.
LGBTQ youth who live in a community that is accepting of LGBTQ people reported significantly lower rates of attempting suicide than those who do not. LGBTQ youth who felt high social support from their family reported attempting suicide at less than half the rate of those who felt low or moderate social support. Very simple things – like support from family and friends, seeing LGBTQ representation in media, and having your gender expression and pronouns respected – can have such a positive impact on the mental health of an LGBTQ young person is inspiring, and it should command more attention in conversations around suicide prevention and public debates around LGBTQ inclusion.” Stats and quotes included remarks from Amit Paley (he/him) CEO & Executive Director, The Trevor Project.
“No matter what a patient brings to the table, my aim is always to create a safe, warm, and non-judgmental therapy space. As a clinician who focuses much of her work on the young adult population, I’ve worked with a number of LGBTQIA patients as they navigate this part of their identity in the workplace, in relationships, and within family systems. I’ve supported many of these individuals during their journey of coming out to others which can be both freeing and challenging and therapy is a great place to process these thoughts and feelings.” – Shira Lee-Silver, LCSW-R
“To me, Pride Month is not only about celebrating diverse sexuality, love, and gender identities – it’s an opportunity for us to acknowledge our shared humanity. Whether you identify as LGBTQIA+ or not, Pride month is a reminder for all of us that although we may be different, we all need and deserve love, acceptance, and a feeling of belonging. I’m reminded during Pride that humankind shares so many more commonalities than differences. I hope that we can all keep this in the forefront of our minds throughout the year so that we can realize a more equitable, accepting, and peaceful existence on Earth together.” – Chrissie Brewer, PMHNP, Young Adult, Adolescent, and Child Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Talking to a professional therapist can help anyone cope with feelings, but today we want to reiterate we are here for our LGBTQ New Yorkers who may not be out, are partially out (for instance to friends but not at work), or have suffered trauma, bullying, or rejection as a result of coming out, or are out and having other issues with anxiety, depression, relationships and more. In the field of mental health, we find a large number of LGBTQ people have the same issues that non-LGBTQ have, but are dealing with additional pressures due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression and are in need of support and therapy due to stigma, oppression, and discrimination. Anxiety and depression can be caused by coming to terms with one’s sexual and gender identity, by the journey, long or short, of coming out to others, of learning to embrace openly who you are, and then the issue of acceptance by family, friends, coworkers and the community at large. At TMP we understand the challenges facing the LGBTQ community and are very experienced, supportive, and capable of treating these feelings.
“Working with LGBTQ clients has taught me the universality of attachment, love, and the need to be accepted and be seen rather than Othered. It has taught me the intense power of resiliency through connection and non-judgmental acceptance.” – Azat Oganesian, LCSW
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