High schoolers have a lot on their plate. They juggle multiple classes, extracurricular activities, a social life, a change in hormones, and begin to understand their sexuality. Should your child land on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, they are probably having a harder time maneuvering through their teenage years. LGBTQIA+ teen group therapy can help promote a healthy self-esteem and tools for managing their life through high school.
LGBTQIA+ Teen Group Therapy: Understanding LGBT
When your child identifies outside of heterosexuality, and attempts to pinpoint what makes the most sense to them, it is important to understand the diversity of sexuality. Here are some terms to know that fit into acronyms:
(L)esbian–people that identify as girls/women that like people that identify as girls/women
(G)ay–people that identify as boys/men that like people that identify as boys/men
(B)isexual–a person that is attracted to both girls/women-identifying people and boys/men-identifying people
(T)ransgender–a person whose gender does not coincide with the sex they were assigned at birth
(Q)ueer–an umbrella term for those who wish to not label their sexual orientation
(Q)uestioning–a person that is questioning their sexuality or gender, or both
(I)ntersex–a person that is born with chromosomes and hormones that are not considered typical for a male or female and may be assigned a gender they do not identify with
(A)sexual–a person who does not usually have sexual attraction toward any gender
(A)lly–someone who does not identify outside of heterosexuality but advocates for the rights and justice for the community
Non-binary– a person that does not identify with either man or woman gender
Cisgender–a person that identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth
Pansexual–a person that is attracted to all identities of gender and sexuality
Polyamorous–a person that consensually engages in intimate partnerships with multiple people
The terms and acronyms are continuously changing to be more inclusive.
Why an LGBTQ+-specific therapist is necessary
Mental health issues including anxiety and depression, that can influence self-esteem, affect all walks of life. Similarly, sexuality and gender comes in all races, socioeconomic class, and age.
Unfortunately, teens that identify outside of what is conventional are more likely to be bullied in school and to experience more rejection and discrimination. Research shows that this sensitive group is at higher risk of suicide and suicide ideation, as well as self-harm. Therefore, an LGBTQ+ trained professional can help your child to cope in less harmful ways.
What happens in a session
An LGBTQ+ therapist understands the needs of the population and can provide a safe container for your child to discuss their experience as an LGBTQ+ youth, including dealing with depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, and other concerns. Additionally, a group of teens that also identify outside the conventional can help empower one another.
In a teen group therapy session, a therapist will lead the group of LGBTQ+ teens to discuss a topic amongst each other. The therapist will first check in to see how everyone is doing and provide general guidelines for boundaries such as “safe words” (a word that indicates a boundary has been crossed or a trigger has occurred). They will then offer the opportunity to unpack something that has happened in between sessions. The therapist may allow for the teens to piggyback off one another’s thoughts or may allow each person a certain amount of time to unload whatever is going on. Each teen will be given the chance to be heard and supported. The therapist may also assign an activity for collaboration during the session such as a role playing activity to then be discussed in the group.