Academic level – Undergraduate 1-2
Type of paper – Coursework
Topic Title – Supporting Sexual Diversity
Define and discuss sexual orientation, transgender identity, and gender questioning so that you clearly illustrate your understanding of each as a unique construct.
Specifically, discuss your initial treatment plan for each type of client. How would you attempt to create an empathetic safe relationship in which your client feels comfortable in honestly discussing his/her challenges and questions?
Share the findings of your research, including APA citations for your sources.
Understanding the definitions related to the emerging gender identity topic is a crucial step to ensuring that a mental health practitioner has an objective perception of their client’s individuality. According to the Human Rights Campaign (Sexual orientation and gender identity definitions 2023), gender identity is “One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither,” and sexual orientation is “An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people” (pars. 2-3). Transgender identity is a person’s sense of self that contradicts gender beliefs held in their cultural and social environment. These features are interconnected because a person’s gender identity defines their sexual orientation. Importantly, gender identity can be fluid, which requires additional attention from the therapist. It should be noted, however, that transgender people do not need to undergo surgeries to belong to the chosen gender.
Creating a specific treatment plan for a client based on their gender identity or sexual orientation would be biased; therefore, I would first ensure that my client feels safe discussing their gender identity with me. Every therapist should advertise and present themselves in an inclusive manner, openly stating their support of the LGBT+ community. Furthermore, a professional should inquire about the person’s pronouns and use them correctly as it is the primary demonstration of respect for the other person’s gender identity (“Creating gender identity inclusive environments, 2019). I would honestly share my eagerness to understand and respect my client’s identity. If any biases emerge, I would work on them fast and make sure that I know why they occur.
In my practice, I would treat a client’s sexual orientation as a crucial part of their personality. I intend to offer my complete support of their preferences during therapy. Therapists and counselors do not consider sexual orientation as something that should be treated. Unfortunately, some people struggle with safely expressing their sexuality, which requires me to pay more attention to how it affects their well-being. I will reflect on my own sexual orientation and how it can put me in a privileged or marginalized position. What is more, I should be aware that some mental health issues in patients with non-traditional sexual orientation can be more severe and difficult to manage (Ploderl, Mestel, & Fartacek, 2022). Depression and anxiety can be more severe in such patients, and that’s an important point that should be considered by counselors as well. I will learn more about different expressions of my client’s sexuality and consider them as a whole person.
When I will work with transgender clients similarly based on their requests, I will strongly rely on gender-affirming therapy. Strategies such as this one can help people from the LGBT+ community feel more accepted. Many new psychology centers provide access to an all-gender restroom, creating an office environment featuring people with different gender expressions, using healthy and respectful language in the online space, and avoiding referring to their “dead” name (11 steps toward a trans-inclusive, gender-affirming therapy practice, 2021). It will be helpful to use a systems approach and ask my client about what part of our sessions they want to dedicate to gender. In the case of any mistakes, I would be ready to apologize and express my desire to learn.
11 steps to a trans-inclusive and gender-affirming therapy practice. Zencare. (2021, July 1). https://blog.zencare.co/trans-inclusive-gender-affirming-therapy-private-practice/
Creating gender identity inclusive environments. MITAlumni. (2019). https://alum.mit.edu/creating-gender-identity-inclusive-environments-0
Plöderl, M., Mestel, R., & Fartacek, C. (2022, January 21). Differences by sexual orientation in treatment outcome and satisfaction with treatment among inpatients of a german psychiatric clinic. PloS one. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8782353/
Sexual orientation and gender identity definitions. Human Rights Campaign. (2023). https://www.hrc.org/resources/sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity-terminology-and-definitions