For centuries, most human societies in the Western world have discriminated against many minorities depending on their sexual identity and gender identity. Today, although these discriminatory tendencies are on the downside, they still exist, although at the same time there is increasing awareness about the negative of this phenomenon.
At this meeting point between discrimination that decays and acceptance that goes back, LGBT affirmative psychology emerges : a therapeutic perspective that invites both to take care of the well-being of people exposed to attacks due to their sexual or gender identity, on the one hand , as to transform society so that the above is not necessary and everyone is treated equally.
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The impact of LGBT claims on psychology
Psychology is the science that studies behavior, but we must not forget that behavior also changes to psychology itself. For this reason, it is normal that social transformations have made the point of view and the purposes of which psychologists leave much changed in recent decades.
An example of this is the way in which raising awareness about the problems of LGBT groups has contributed to making psychology a richer and more useful tool to help a part of the population that continues to feel vulnerable in many aspects : lesbians, gay, bisexual and trans. Where decades ago there was a science that considered homosexuality as something intrinsically pathological, today there is one that does not label disease as forms of sexual orientation or gender identity that move away from the heterosexual and cisgender (i.e., of the conventional correspondence between sex and gender), and that at the same time recognizes that discrimination exposes these groups more to psychological problems, statistically.
In this way, affirmative psychology has emerged, a field of work that focuses on the needs of non-heterosexual and non-cisgender people. Its applied aspect, affirmative therapy , aims to understand the mechanisms of the construction of LGBT identity and, from them, help people with problems arising from discrimination and social pressure linked to it.
Objectives of affirmative therapy
These are some of the purposes set frequently from affirmative LGBT psychology to help people seeking help.
1. Treatment of sequelae for homophobia and transphobia
Unfortunately, even in countries with higher rates of acceptance of homosexuality (such as Spain) and the trans community, attacks with physical or verbal violence are relatively common. Many times, these aggressions occur even during childhood, in contexts of bullying, and the arrival in adulthood does not prevent similar situations from happening again.
This can facilitate the triggering of psychological disorders such as anxiety or depression , as well as body dysmorphic disorder. And it is that beyond the physical wounds, the passage through these experiences contributes to not being satisfied with one’s own body, to blaming oneself for what happened, to isolate oneself socially and even to have more doubts about one’s identity.
Understanding what it means to go through this kind of experience is essential to offer professional help to this kind of victims, many of whom receive continuous attacks on a daily basis. And therefore, it is one of the goals of affirmative LGBT psychology.
- You may be interested: ” The 16 types of discrimination (and their causes)“
Accompany and advise when deciding to be a mother or father
Motherhood and fatherhood are roles strongly mediated by social conventions; Therefore, it is normal to hear many criticisms about who should or should not have children, and what are the most useful parenting strategies and which are not. If we add to this the factor of sexual identity and gender identity, to this social pressure we must add the tendency to culturally discriminate against minorities who fall outside the norm on these issues, and the existence of legal barriers and institutional that continue to feed the idea that you can only have children if you are heterosexual and cisgender.
Therefore, psychologists can specialize in helping people who feel bad in the face of having to first choose whether or not to raise a baby, and second, to deal with the frustration and anxiety that often causes having Than fight to get it.
Search for space itself in LGBT environments
We must not forget that the LGBT is not homogeneous, and that even within the groups represented by this acronym there are several “social circles” or sub-groups. Sometimes, the formation of these sub-categories responds to a trend whose existence must be recognized: discrimination within LGBT groups themselves .
This last factor can cause many people to experience difficulties in finding their site and their identity even in spaces where no one is heterosexual, for example. Although psychotherapy is not enough to solve this, it is also true that affirmative psychology can contribute both to avoiding totally unnecessary forms of discomfort, and to helping victims of discrimination to be aware that they have nothing to hide and that they should see these attacks as a social problem , not as a defect of them as individuals. In this way, in addition, it contributes to making an environment predisposed to accept unconventional forms of sexuality and expression of gender identity truly inclusive.
Acceptance of one’s identity
Finally, the process of accepting oneself contributes to the fact that people belonging to these minorities feel good about their identity for most of the time, and not only do they not treat it as a taboo, but also normalize its existence and show it. in their social relationships and in the expression of their sexuality .
It is clear that much remains to be done culturally, institutionally and politically so that LGBT groups cease to be right because of the disappearance of discrimination . However, part of the change also involves the dissemination of the culture of mutual care and acceptance, and these are precisely the pillars of affirmative psychology. Therefore, psychologists who can put a grain of sand with our work in this area do so knowing that we not only help the individual who attends our consultation; We also invite the entire society to the therapeutic process.