Sexual Orientation & Sexual Identity
Sexual orientation develops over the course of an individual’s life time. It includes romantic attraction to the same gender, opposite gender or both genders and an individuals’ perception about who they are. It is best viewed on a spectrum ranging from
Sexual behavior needs to be distinguished from sexual identity. For example, a heterosexual individual may have engaged in sexual activity with a same gendered individual but may identify themselves as primarily heterosexual. Sexual orientation must also be differentiated from gender identity. Gender identity, confusion, trans-sexualism, questioning teens and adjustment issues related to gender change decisions are issues that can be addressed in therapy.
For most of us, sexual orientation and gender identity has a biological basis; for others the explanation may be psychological.
Some individuals struggle with the question of “why?” and in my experience scientific explanations don’t fully address the existential question as to why each individual is made differently. This is an area where clients who struggle with individual differences benefit from eastern philosophy, spiritual exploration and awareness meditation.
Some issues specifically related to homosexual/bisexual individual
Acknowledging one’s homosexual or bisexual orientation or gender identity issues publicly can be a source of stress, especially if the individual has not been able to get support, validation and acceptance from close friends and family members at various developmental stages.
There are many assumptions, societal taboos and judgments that can sometimes affect identity. Different sexual orientations are more accepted in Western as compared to Eastern countries.
Coming out especially in an eastern culture is ever harder. Issues such as family honor, shame, a need to meet parental expectations or social acceptance pose barriers toward a GLBT or transgendered individual’s ability to accept him//herself wholly.
As an individual who is bicultural and multilingual, I understand that social and cultural factors need to be considered. I am also aware that these same factors may cause a subset of problems in couples who are not heterosexual (For example one partner is open about sexual orientation and the other is hiding it from his/her family and work).
Relationship problems may occur because partners are at different levels of acceptance and openness with regard to their sexual orientation. Guilt and shame around homosexuality may cause problems in sexual performance. Poor communication, perceived criticism, and stress due to identity struggles may cause problems in relationships.
Individuals who have been the victims of childhood physical and emotional abuse sometimes choose to be homosexual. These individual are sometimes re-victimized or may become aggressive as a self-protective response. Exploration and a commitment to change in therapy can help individuals change and engage in healthier relationships.
Treatment of LGBTQ issues
In therapy I facilitate an exploration of how an individual’s sexual orientation has impacted various arenas of their lives. I help individuals work toward a more accepting stance toward themselves and help them make decisions about how, when and where they want to be open about their sexual orientation.
My goal in the treatment is empower “YOU” the client to move from a sense of helpless or feeling boxed-in to a sense of acceptance, freedom, and value for yourself without worrying or feeling ashamed about your sexual orientation.
If your primary issue is not issues related to your identity I will just be mindful of your sexual orientation and you will be able to ascertain if your sexual orientation may or may not impact your presenting issues.
If you have relationship issues we can work individually or you may prefer couples counseling. If the relationship problems are with parents or siblings we can consider having some sessions with family members.
If you have any anxiety about being a parent – Studies show that children raised with appropriate boundaries and life skills are well-adjusted in both heterosexual and homosexual households. Children raised in non traditional households may face some challenges due to social stigma.
With appropriate guidance, education and coping skills these children overcome these challenges. All parents need ongoing support and the most important thing you can do for yourself is find resources to educate yourself about child rearing and communicate on a regular basis with other parents so that you will have support for normal parenting woes. I have some useful books on parenting listed on this site.