As a therapist who has specialized in working primarily with gay, lesbian and bisexual clients for over 20 years, my mission is:
To lead our LGB community to improved psychological well-being, enriched lives and more satisfying relationships.
As a gay, lesbian or bisexual person, we face special challenges in addition to the every day problems, conflicts and losses that confront all persons. For example, we know that the ongoing, lifetime task of “coming out” summons continuous courage within us and requires a constant assessment of safety and social factors – all of which take energy, persistence and a certain vigilance.
The complexities of same-gendered relationships, in a world that does not lend the same degree of acknowledgment, legal, political, medical and financial rights or social acceptance accorded different-gendered couples, are made more difficult by different standards for gays, lesbians and bisexual people.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual persons face specific issues concerning almost every aspect of our lives:
- Parenting children in a gay/lesbian/bisexual relationship
- Adoption issues
- Aging and approaching midlife years
- Dealing with the largely “invisible” grief over the illness or death of a partner
- Navigating the sometimes complex world of same-gendered friendships which may give rise to feelings of jealousy in partners
- Mixed HIV status of couples
- To be, or not to be: Friends with your ex-lover/partner and some frequent pitfalls encountered along the way
- Different sex drive levels between partners, especially lesbian couples
- Handling financial obligations and what to do if there is an inequality of assets in the relationship
- Balancing an inbalance of power in a relationship
- Handling acts of homophobia and other hate crimes
As I work with the LGB individuals and couples, I always assess the person/couple in context of the concentric circles of their immediate/extended family, friends, work environment, neighborhood, church and other affiliations as well as the sociopolitical currents running through the country.
Generally, the more integrated we are within these circles, the more we feel supported in times of difficulty and affirmed and valued in our lifestyle.
Some LGB clients come to therapy, not for any directly related issue to their sexual orientation or preference, but because they are depressed or anxious or have a specific problem that they want to resolve. For others, the problems encountered because of their sexuality are the main reasons for seeing a therapist.
If you were to ask me what I admire most about the gay, lesbian and bisexual clients I’ve worked with, I would answer:
Perhaps because of the additional tasks and burdens they have shouldered in the absence of the full rights and privileges enjoyed by heterosexual people, I believe that they are the most resilient, creative, productive and caring group of individuals I have ever had the honor of knowing.
I hope that you, the reader, are content, fulfilled and enjoying a wonderful relationship. But if you feel that you could be getting more from life than you are currently experiencing, I hope you will give me the privilege of working with you to reach your dreams and goals.
Audrey M. Hering, Ph.D.