Issues and Ethics in Counselling Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Individuals

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Issues and Ethics in Counselling Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Individuals

A considerable number of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people will turn to helping professionals when they need assistance with problems. Lesbians, gay and bisexual individuals experience similar problems to heterosexual clients, such as anxiety, depression, suicide ideation, alcoholism, violence, relationship problems, and anger. There are unique issues faced by LGB persons, however. This paper will summarize the major issues for which LGB individuals seek counselling and provide recommendations for counsellors. Counselling Issues for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Individuals One of the major counselling issues for LGB people is "coming out." Coming out refers to the psychological, social, and cultural process of recognizing oneself as a gay man, lesbian or a bisexual person. Coming out can also mean the intentional or unintentional disclosure of one's LGB identity to others. Some LGB people prefer to conceal their lesbian/gay/bisexual identity; they are "in the closet." They may refrain from discussing their intimate lives with others or may present themselves as heterosexual, a process referred to as "passing." Others may disclose their sexual identity in various ways to family members, friends, religious leaders, co-workers, and the general public. The identity and disclosure process is ongoing and central to understanding the life experiences of LGB individuals, even when the problem for which a gay man, lesbian or bisexual individual is seeking counselling is not the coming out process. Depression, suicide, alcohol and other drug use, grief and loss, are but a few of the problems faced by LGB people that are related to identity and disclosure. Another major counselling issue for LGB people is family of origin. The norms, values, and attitudes of family members may condemn or condone homosexuality. The racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds of LGB persons are...
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