June 15th, 2016
For decades, the LGBTQ community has fought battle after battle. They have lost some, they have won some.
Those battles have come in the form of attaining the right to marry, to be covered under their partner’s health insurance, to visit each other in the hospital, and most of all – to work and live without fear of discrimination.
But there are still many battles left to fight.
As a mental health professional, I believe equality for same sex couples is not just about marriage, employment or health care. It is also an issue of equality in mental health care. Same sex couples are entitled to and need the same type of counseling or support as straight couples. And there is a limited number of mental health professionals who actively reach out to the LGBTQ community.
I am reaching out… Because we all deserve a happily ever after.
An Equal Right to Strong Healthy Relationships
I hate to break it to you, but at our core, we are all the same. We all have relationship insecurities, we all have self-esteem issues, we all are looking for unconditional love.
That is why it is important to me to work with LGBTQ couples — because I want to show that we are all human beings who have struggles, and with support we can recover and rebuild after challenging times.
I absolutely love to show my clients how to have the relationships they want: relationships with themselves and with others. I know LGBTQ couples need help in these areas just as much as other couples. They need a place where they do not have to worry about being judged or pretending to be someone else. They need a safe space where they can work through challenges and grow emotionally.
Remember, love is love — no matter your sexual orientation.
Same Sex, Same Struggles
There seems to be a belief that same sex couples love differently, interact differently or commit differently than other couples. I want to squash these myths.
Same-sex couples have fights over how to raise children, about their in-laws, money and sex. And at the same time, they support each other’s dreams and want to feel connected with their partners. Is this any different from straight couples? I don’t think so. We all have room to learn how to become better partners, parents and friends. Same-sex couples are no different. Better communication, deeper connection and greater intimacy are universal truths we all deserve to have in our relationships.
The Added Challenges
Lesbian and Gay couples not only have the same relationship challenges as straight couples, but they also face other people’s negative perspectives or stereotyping of their relationship.
For many, you can plan a date night, get dressed and dolled up, and walk into a restaurant without the tension or fear of what others might say or do. For some same sex couples, that experience would be idealistic instead of a basic right. Just think, after a rough, stressful week or a difficult day at work, they also have to face Mr. and Mrs. Traditional South turning their noses up at them. Or maybe it’s their own family or friends they have to battle.
For many of us, it’s difficult to imagine how we would deal with that judgement and conflict. If your relationship is not strong, the extra strain, the outside negativity, and lack of support could definitely affect your relationship and not in a good way.
If same sex couples can improve their relationships with others and themselves, they will be better equipped to handle the pressures and judgements of society in a healthy way, allowing them to resolve conflict within themselves or their relationships.
That’s why same sex couples need to feel accepted and supported in couples counseling. Not only are they dealing with the normal (and not so normal) issues of relationships — from trust to communication problems — but they also have to overcome judgement, discrimination and hostility from outside their relationship.
I want to build up LGBTQ relationships, so they are able to handle those inner relational struggles while also overcoming the struggles they face out in the world. I love the quote, “No one is free until we are all free.” It shows us that our freedom is tied to our neighbor’s freedom.
One day, I hope I will not have to differentiate same sex couples from straight couples. I can just say “couples” and you will know that all are welcome. One day, I hope that same sex couples do not have those extra strains on their relationships and daily lives. But until then, it’s important for me to take a stand for equality.
If you are in a struggling same sex relationship or you are a member of the LGBTQ community and are looking to have a better relationship with yourself, I am eager to work with you. You can contact me at (864) 559-8181 to schedule an appointment. I can help people in Greenville, SC, and surrounding areas.