How Online Counselling is helping people with gender and sexuality issues in Australia

The statistics for suicide and attempted suicide rates for LGBTI people in Australia make for sober reading. They are

Compared to the general population, LGBTI people are more likely to attempt suicide in their lifetime, specifically:

  • LGBTI young people aged 16 to 27 are five times more likely
  • Transgender people aged 18 and over are nearly eleven times more likely
  • People with an Intersex variation aged 16 and over are nearly six times more likely
  • LGBT young people who experience abuse and harassment are even more likely to attempt suicide

Here at Counselling Online we are providing online counselling services in Australia to LGBTI people around Australia and working with them to alleviate psychological distress.

Many LGBTI people and youth are prone to look at themselves through a prism of self-esteem which is often based around subjective judgements from others. This can be maladaptive when others have biased views or thoughts – around LGBTI issues.

Many psychologists have worked with young LGBTI people to try and get them to change negative cognitions such as “I’m not good enough”. The problem with this approach is that often it leads to the client struggling more against the cognition which leads to more distress.

The simple fact is, we can’t always prevent young people from experiencing insecurity and low self-esteem. Heck, we can’t eliminate those feelings in ourselves. All people feel inadequate or imperfect at times. And in an ever-evolving, ever-more complex world, there is simply no way we can protect our young people from events that threaten their self-esteem — events like social rejection, family problems, personal failures, and others.

Here at counselling online we don’t ask young people to struggle with difficult thoughts, feelings and emotions. Instead we talk about self-compassion.

The process of self-compassion goes is a 3 step one:

  1. Treating oneself kindly.
  2. Recognizing one’s struggles as part of the shared human experience.
  3. Holding one’s painful thoughts and feelings in mindful awareness.

Using self-compassion, the negativity or positivity of a client’s thoughts isn’t what’s important. It’s how the client responds to these thoughts that matters.

So, when a client experiences a thought such as “There is something wrong with me” — instead of fighting against that thought or trying to distract from it, we encourage the client to instead notice this thought without getting attached to it (become mindful), understand that it is common to all humans and part of our shared experience as people, and then treat oneself kindly instead of beating themselves up.

Online counselling is very effective in working with clients impacted by gender and sexuality issues using acceptance and commitment therapy to achieve reductions in psychological distress. For more information please refer to our web site at Counselling Online.

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