Why affirmative care matters
A recent article stated the following alarming statistics about the experience of LGBTQQIA teens:
A national report cited by the Human Rights Campaign revealed that 26 percent of transgender students were assaulted in school in the past school year because of their gender expression.
A 2017 National School Climate Survey found that LGBTQ students are targeted with physical violence and experience a hostile school environment more frequently than their non-LGBTQ peers and face additional challenges that threaten their health, safety and learning opportunities in schools.
National studies have also found that LGBTQ students are at greater risk of negative emotional, health and educational achievement outcomes, and adverse health and educational consequences for transgender students are even greater than those for LGBTQ students.
As mental health providers, these statistics are alarming. It is important to us to work towards a more inclusive and socially just world. It matters to us that all of our clients find a place to feel safe. We are committed to working to provide therapeutic services that respect and embrace difference and we aspire to help each individual, couple and family achieve the changes they desire. For many who seek therapy, finding a trustworthy therapist who inspires confidence is relatively easy. For people who identify along the LGBTQQIA spectrum that isn’t always the case. The landscape of providers is vast and confusing. Finding a provider that is inclusive and affirming is far more difficult that it should be. The training of health professionals often does not emphasize the intersectional nature of minority stress models nor teach providers to value marginalized identities. Therefore, there is lack of properly trained clinicians who feel competent and prepared to provide care to queer communities. Finding an affirmative therapist is no walk in the park. That can become even more difficult when trying to find therapeutic care for those that identify as transgender or non-binary (TGNB).
TGNB people are often misunderstood and overlooked by the healthcare profession as a whole. A recent study published by the WPATH (World Professional Organization for Transgender Health) stated that over 74% people who identify as transgender have had a negative and discriminatory experience in the healthcare system at some point in their lives. Those numbers don’t look much better even within the mental health system. Suicide rates among TGNB identified people is 3x higher than that of the general population. In addition, the average lifespan of a financially poor, transgender, black female is age 36. The world can be a hostile and unkind place for TGNB people due to marginalization, overt discrimination, and minority stress.
The therapy room should be a haven of safety and affirmation. It is the responsibility of mental health providers to educate themselves and commit to a deeper understanding of the problems faced by TGNB people. Practitioners have a vast array of training and competencies that make up their therapeutic approaches. As in any profession, not every practitioner has expertise in serving TGNB people. Many therapists want to be of service to the TGNB community, but do not have the proper training. Others are uninterested or hold undistinguished bias and could inadvertently inflict micro-aggressions on their clients. It takes time, training, interest, and desire to commit to becoming an affirmative therapist who is capable of accommodating the needs of a historically misunderstood and underserved population. Without the dedication to understanding the lived experiences of TGNB identified people, therapists may not always be capable of providing the best care possible.
At Strategic Solutions, however you identify, you belong. In our practice we aspire to address the concerns of the LGBTQQIA community in affirmative and inclusive ways. We are committed to developing a space where anyone undergoing minority stress related struggles has a place to feel understood, heard, and affirmed. We will seek to understand your life, identity, and story at every point of interaction. That is our commitment to you as a whole person. When you arrive at Strategic Solutions you can be reassured that every practitioner is dedicated to advocating for you and affirming the truth of your identity. We are here to make sure you feel safe and comfortable while you explore and discover more about yourself. Remember, you are welcome here.