Counseling for the LGBTQIA+ Community

at Health for Life Grand Rapids

All of the therapists and counselors at Health for Life Grand Rapids and The Trauma-Informed Counseling Center of Grand Rapids are affirming and supportive of our LGBTQIA+ community and have and will continue to provide excellent therapeutic services to people of all backgrounds, sexual, and gender identities

What does the acronym LGBTQIA+ stand for?

It currently represents those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, intersex, and asexual. Some people use the term “queer” as an umbrella term instead of LGBTQIA, but not all people identify as queer or choose to use this term. Some consider the “A” to stand for “ally” as well as “asexual.” but some controversy exists regarding the inclusion of allies in the acronym, as “ally” is not a gender identity or sexual orientation.

Why is it helpful to work with an LGBTQIA affirming therapist?

Although a person’s sexual or romantic orientation or gender identity may not be a source of distress, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, asexual, or any other orientation or gender identity may find that the social stigma of living as a minority is a source of stress or anxiety. Despite rapidly growing cultural acceptance of diverse sexual and romantic orientations and gender identifications, oppression, discrimination, and marginalization of LGBTQIA people persists.

Coping with discrimination and oppression, coming out to one’s family, and sorting out an “authentic” sense of self in the face of social expectations and pressures can lead to higher levels of depression, anxiety, substance use, and other mental health concerns for LGBTQIA people. For example, research shows that youth who identify as LGBTQIA are at an increased risk of suicidal ideation and self-harm, particularly when they also experience discrimination based on their sexual or gender identity.

Counseling for LGBTQIA+ Community

Melodie Whitmore

Trauma-Informed Counseling for Women, Young Adults, and Couples

Justyne Ortquist

Trauma-Informed Counseling and Emotion-Focused Therapy for Couples, Individuals, and Families

Joshua Nave

EMDR Therapy for Anxiety, Trauma, and Minority Groups

Paul Krauss

Counseling, EMDR Therapy, & Solutions

Michele Figuereo

EMDR and Trauma Counseling for Adults and Couples

LGBTQIA persons seeking individual, couples or family therapy often bring concerns and life challenges that are common among all people. For example, all couples argue over many of the same things—money, sex, the in-laws, too little quality time – and all people are subject to the same kinds of daily stressors, such as mood swings, workplace stress, or low self-esteem. An LGBTQIA therapist understands that these common issues may be heightened for LGBTQIA clients due to the societal marginalization they experience as LGBTQIA people. An LGBTQIA affirming therapist also has experience and familiarity with helping clients address issues and concerns specifically related to sexual or romantic orientation or gender identity. LGBTQIA Therapy assures that a client can engage in the therapeutic process related to these specific issues in a safe, affirming, non-judgmental environment.

When should someone see an LGBTQIA affirming therapist?

  • Like all clients, LGBTQIA clients may choose an LGBTQIA therapist to address a variety of issues for which people seek individual, couples or family therapy. They also may seek help with issues specifically related to sexual or romantic orientation or gender identity, including but not limited to:
  • anxiety or depression related to interactions with society, family, friends, coworkers or others regarding sexual or romantic orientation or gender identity
  • questioning one’s identity and sense of self
  • coming out to family, friends, or at work
  • coping with discrimination, bullying, harassment or oppression
  • substance abuse
  • gender dysphoria 
  • relationship issues when one or both partners is “closeted”

The Crisis of Suicidality in LGBT+ Populations

References: Sovec, J. & Owen, J.G. GoodTherapy. (01-10-2018). LGBTQ issues/gender identity and sexual orientation. https://goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/lgbt-issues (additional references cited in article).

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