I have continually been in personal psychotherapy because I find it to be useful as I navigate the world with a hearing loss as well as being gay. I am so curious and interested in making new discoveries that will create new insight.
I had an excellent LGBT-Affirmative psychotherapist who worked primarily from the lens of narrative therapy. She was very accepting and in line with narrative, allowed for me to share my experience in my way that was not limited by anxiety about having differences. I was able to reclaim my power and be myself.
The therapist held a secure space and we worked collaboratively. I was so happy to be able to openly share things without being boxed in by psychotherapeutic lingo. That being said, interpretations and lingo are also incredibly helpful. But this experience was what I needed at that particular time as I felt there were a lot of “shoulds” that I needed to follow, and I wasn’t sure which path to take.
Every week, I would come in and be greeted by this affirming presence. My being gay wasn’t merely tolerated, rather it was affirmed as my own experience and it wasn’t viewed as a negative difference. Therapists need to be aware that when they merely tolerate differences, it can have the paradox effect of making the person feel ashamed or shamed. The reason is that when sexual orientation and the struggles that come with not being straight aren’t acknowledged, then the person is left wondering what the therapist thinks. Validation can be so important and it took time but I found a therapist that validated the unique experiences of being gay.
All theoretical orientations have been useful to me. They each have pros and cons. It was so clear how in our work together the space and safety made for a match that improved my understanding of myself and led me to greater acceptance as a gay man.