I’ve no idea how much contact TFTers have had with gay people, but I’ve been asked to share a little of my work here in the UK.
I’ve spent almost 30 years (pretty much my entire professional career as a therapist) specialising in working with gender and sexual minority clients and about a decade ago I established what is now the largest independent therapy organisation in the UK which aims to offer nonpathologising therapies to gender and sexual minority clients.
Many of you will know this group as LGBT or LGBTIQ or something similar (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, Intersex and Queer/Questioning), although our remit is broader than just these groups.
Traditionally lesbian, gay and bisexual people have higher levels of mental health distress than heterosexuals, they experience higher levels of depression and anxiety and of alcohol and drug misuse (King & McKeown 2003) and parasuicide and deliberate self harm is also significantly higher (King et al 2008). This is probably due to living within a society which privileges heterosexuality and pathologises same sex desires and relationships.
I was somewhat stunned by recent British research (Bartlett et al 2009) who found that 1:6 of their sample of 1328 of counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists had agreed to enter contracts for reducing same sex desires and 4% had agreed to help cure people of their homosexuality, despite homosexuality being removed from the manual as a mental illness in 1994 by WHO and in 1983 by the American Psychiatric Association) DSM III. Read more