The Center for Growth & The LGBTQIA+/Queer Community
Counseling for the LGBTQIA+/Queer Community Clients from LGBT+/Queer communities can expect to be warmly welcomed to The Center for Growth. Our clinicians are trained to be queer-affirming and supportive, and many specialize in working with issues and challenges that particularly affect sexual and gender minority populations. Sadly, many of our clients have had negative experiences with clinicians who either stigmatized their sexual/gender identities, or who required teaching and education that placed an undue burden on the client. Affirming and competent therapy is available for LGBT+/Queer clients at The Center for growth.
The Center for Growth believes that the fit between therapist and client is the most important element to a successful therapeutic experience. Call The Center for Growth and ask to be paired with a clinician that specializes in working with LGBT+/Queer individuals or couples, or peruse clinician profiles and book an appointment online with the provider of your choice.
Our clinicians understand that sexual and gender identity is just one piece of each client’s larger story. While some queer/trans clients come to therapy to do self-work particularly around their gender and sexuality, many come for other challenges in their lives: anxiety, depression, trauma, feeling unfocused or unfulfilled, struggling in relationships or with self-esteem. These issues might be interwoven with or totally independent from a clients’ journey to self-acceptance and self-love around their gender or sexuality. Here are some of the special issues that bring Queer and LGBT+ clients into our practice:
Identity work: A journey that can begin at any age, some of our clients have noticed gaps between who they are and who they want to become, or between the lives they are currently living and a life that might be more authentic, joyous, and fulfilling. In a society built on cis-hetero normativity, it can be daunting to take even a step towards a gender identity or sexual/romantic life beyond these narrow norms. In therapy, clients can find support in bolstering their sense of self-acceptance, challenging any internalized homo- and transphobia, and affirming their own human right to self-expression and safety. This internal identity work can happen before or in tandem with experimentation and discovery in gender presentation or dating and sexual activity with others.
Transitioning: Clients may be somewhere along a path of gender transition when they come to therapy. The process of transitioning ones’ inward and outward gender identity, appearance, and behavior is a complex, fluid, and highly personal one. While some have a clear vision of their desired gender presentation and are seeking support primarily around navigating social and relational challenges that arise whenever a person changes, others are less clear on the destination of their gender-journey and need a safe space in which to explore a wide range of possibilities without judgment. At The Center for Growth, clinicians are available to accompany clients as they initiate or continue transition trajectories and see this process as valid, important, creative, and life affirming.
Sexual Difficulties: Some clients seek therapy for a wide range of sexual difficulties. This might include anxiety around trying new types of sex, around having sex with new types of partners, or adjusting to a changing/changed body in a sexual setting. It might also include clients who find that their sexual behavior is having negative consequences in their lives. Some norms for sex and dating are different in LGBT+/Queer communities (for example, greater acceptance of non-monogamy in its various forms), and this can add a layer of complexity to deciding if ones sex life feels positive and empowered– or if it is having negative emotional or physical effects on oneself or others. Clinicians at The Center for Growth can help clients explore resources for reducing their anxiety around sex and intimacy, and in navigating the highly individual process of building a healthy, happy sexual life.
Trauma: Sadly, the LGBT+/Queer community is at high risk for trauma, both “big T” Trauma which may include being the victim of physical abuse or violence, and the “little T” trauma of policing, pressures to conform, or outright rejection by family and society. Experiences of trauma can have long term effects on clients’ ability to feel safe in various settings and relationships, and undertaking the work of healing past traumas can be intimidating and even scary. Clinicians at The Center for Growth are available to support clients in getting to a place of safety and then embarking on trauma work at a pace that feels accessible and places the client at the center of their healing process.
The Center for Growth welcomes all couples who are struggling to create or maintain relationships that feel nourishing, balanced, and happy. LGBT+/Queer couples can have all the same problems as heterosexual couples– bickering over large and small things, differences in parenting styles, challenges adapting to changing circumstances, family troubles, differences in sexual desire, breaches of trust or infidelity– but the dynamics may be somewhat altered due to variation in roles, gendered expectations, specific community norms around relationship structure, or the pressures of living in a cis-heteronormative culture. On the other hand, there are some challenges that LGBT+/Queer couples face which are less likely to arise among straight couples. At The Center for Growth, you will find clinicians who work hard to understand the specific context of your situation and the challenges you and your partner face.
Changes in Gender or Sexual Identity: Individual discoveries, a sense of yearning to explore, or decisions to shift along gender or sexuality lines deeply impact both members of a couple. It can be scary to have someone you love intimately begin to change, even if they are moving towards a more authentic version of themselves. By the same token, it can be deeply vulnerable to share with a partner a desire to identify differently along gender lines, use different pronouns, to transition in some way, or to explore an untapped sexual identity. A skilled therapist can help couples find new ways to fit together during and after a big change. They can also assist the couple in creating a relationship that is resilient and flexible.
Parenting: All parents are challenged at times by the endless responsibility and profound love and duty they feel towards their children. LGBT+/Queer couples wishing to create, expand, or strengthen their families may encounter additional challenges. They may have complex fertility or adoption journeys, need to create new roles around childcare, work, and the home that look different from mainstream practices, and might be working hard to break intergenerational patterns to be the best parents possible. They or their children may experience homophobia or transphobia at school or in their neighborhoods. Difficulties like these can put intense pressure on a relationship and may well reveal cracks in emotional regulation, communication, and intimacy.
Ethical Non-Monogamy: Though by no means universal, ethical non-monogamy in its many forms is common in the LGBT+/Queer community. Established, married, committed, or dating couples may have different desires in relation to sexual or emotional exclusivity which need to be negotiated. New or additional partners may have needs and expectations of their own which challenge a dyad to assess and reassess their agreements. Negotiating agreements around safety and boundaries can be challenging, as these discussions may connect to deep-seated emotions about worthiness, attachment, love, and loyalty.
Support Groups One aspect that sets The Center for Growth apart from other practices is the availability of low-fee support groups. A variety of groups are running in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia at any given time; all have a commitment to inclusivity and welcome LGBT+/Queer members. While many of the groups may be of benefit to members of the LGBT+/Queer community, The Center for Growth is currently expanding options centered on the unique needs of these populations. See the “Groups'' link above for more information on all groups accepting new members at this time. We hope to bring our groups to Santa Fe New Mexico. Please let us know which groups you would like to see!