Stand Up To Anxiety | Dr Terry Sergeant

Stand Up To Anxiety

Online counselling and CBT for worry, stress, and anxiety

Stand Up To Anxiety

Online counselling and CBT for worry, stress, and anxiety

LGBTQ+ Counselling

LGBTQ+ Counselling

Confidential online counselling service for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and queer people throughout the UK and Ireland.

  • Are you seeking support in understanding or navigating your sexual orientation or gender identity?

  • Have questions about your gender identity or sexual orientation led to confusion or distress?

  • How has exposure to homophobia, biphobia, or transphobia impacted your mental health and relationships?

  • Do societal pressures or family expectations around gender and sexuality contribute to stress in your life?

  • Are you struggling with a relationship issue and want the support of a therapist experienced in LGBTQ+ issues?

  • Are you exploring or navigating non-monogamy, polyamory, or other forms of relationship diversity within the LGBTQ+ community?

  • Are you in search a counselling or therapy tailored to the unique experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals?

The challenges of being LGBTQ+

LGBTQ+ individuals face a myriad of challenges across different aspects of their lives, deeply influenced by the cultural, societal, and legal contexts of their environments. These challenges can vary widely among different communities and locations, but several core issues commonly arise:

  • Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia: Negative attitudes and beliefs about LGBTQ+ people can lead to discrimination, exclusion, and violence. These attitudes can be overt or subtle, affecting individuals’ well-being and access to opportunities.
  • Microaggressions: Everyday encounters with prejudice, such as derogatory comments or assumptions about one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, can have cumulative psychological impacts.
  • Higher Rates of Mental Health Issues: LGBTQ+ individuals are at a higher risk for mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, often as a result of discrimination, social isolation, and internalised stigma.
  • Coming Out Challenges: The process of coming out can lead to rejection, conflict, or violence from family members, friends, and communities. For many, this means having to weigh the desire for authenticity against the risk of losing important relationships.
  • Relationship Recognition: In places without legal recognition of same-sex or non-traditional relationships, individuals may struggle with securing rights and protections for their partners and families.
  • Social Isolation: Exclusion from social groups and community spaces, whether due to overt discrimination or subtler forms of marginalization, can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  • Intersectionality: LGBTQ+ individuals with intersecting identities (e.g., race, ethnicity, disability, socio-economic status) may face compounded forms of discrimination and unique challenges. For example, LGBTQ+ people of color may navigate both racism and homophobia in their daily lives.

Being LGBTQ+ in Ireland and the UK

LGBTQ+ individuals in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and in the UK face unique challenges, shaped by a blend of cultural, religious, and political factors that influence attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community. Despite significant strides in LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance in recent years, individuals in these regions still encounter obstacles that affect their lives.

LGBTQ+ life in Northern Ireland
Historically, Northern Ireland was the last part of the UK to decriminalise homosexuality in 1982, decades after England and Wales. This delay has had a lasting impact on societal attitudes. Although same-sex marriage was legalised in 2020, following significant public and political pressure, the legacy of these laws contributes to ongoing discrimination and stigma.

The intersection of LGBTQ+ identities with the complex religious and political landscape in Northern Ireland presents additional challenges. Sectarian divisions can exacerbate feelings of isolation among LGBTQ+ individuals, especially if they feel alienated from their religious or community backgrounds due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Like many places, there’s a noticeable difference between urban and rural experiences for LGBTQ+ people in Northern Ireland. Belfast has a number of LGBTQ+ venues and hosts one of the biggest Pride events every year in Ireland and the UK. However, those in rural areas may face greater isolation, fewer resources, and higher levels of discrimination compared to their urban counterparts.

LGBTQ+ life in the South
The South of Ireland has seen significant cultural shifts towards greater acceptance of LGBTQ+ rights, culminating in the historic 2015 referendum that legalised same-sex marriage. Places like Dublin, Cork and Galway have vibrant queer communities, resources, and services. However, the influence of traditional values and the Catholic Church remains strong in many areas, creating a challenging environment for LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly in rural areas or among older generations. Transgender individuals in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland face specific challenges, including accessing gender-affirming healthcare. Lengthy wait times for services, limited resources, and navigating legal changes for gender recognition are significant obstacles.

LGBTQ+ life in the UK
In the UK there has seen significant progress in terms of legal rights and societal acceptance over the past few decades, marking it as one of the more progressive countries in terms of LGBTQ+ rights. Legislation such as the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2014 and the earlier decriminalisation of homosexuality has laid a foundation for equality. However, challenges persist, particularly around trans rights and healthcare, where debates about gender recognition and access to gender-affirming care have been contentious. The UK boasts a vibrant LGBTQ+ culture, with major cities like London, Manchester, and Brighton hosting large Pride events, active nightlife, and community centres that offer support, counselling, and advocacy services. Despite this, LGBTQ+ individuals in the UK may still face discrimination, hate crimes, and mental health disparities, pointing to the need for ongoing awareness and advocacy. 

Why is LGBTQ+ counselling important?

LGBTQ+ counselling plays a crucial role in supporting the mental health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning individuals. This specialised form of counselling is important for several reasons:

  • Affirmation and understanding: LGBTQ+ counselling offers a safe and affirming space where individuals can explore their identities, experiences, and feelings without fear of judgment or misunderstanding. Counsellors with expertise in LGBTQ+ issues are equipped to understand the unique challenges and societal pressures that these individuals may face, offering empathy and support that might not be as readily available in non-specialised settings.

  • Addressing specific mental health challenges: Research indicates that LGBTQ+ individuals are at a higher risk for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, largely due to experiences of discrimination, stigma, and social isolation. LGBTQ+ counselling provides targeted support to address these challenges, helping clients develop coping mechanisms and resilience in the face of adversity.

  • Navigating identity and self-acceptance: For many in the LGBTQ+ community, coming to terms with one’s sexual orientation or gender identity can be a complex journey. Counsellors can assist individuals in this process, offering guidance and support as they explore their identity, work towards self-acceptance, and navigate the coming-out process if they choose to do so.

  • Relationship and family dynamics: LGBTQ+ counselling also addresses issues specific to relationships and family dynamics, including challenges related to same-sex relationships, multi-partner relationships, parenting, and navigating family acceptance. Counsellors can provide strategies for communication, conflict resolution, and maintaining healthy relationships.

  • Healing from trauma: LGBTQ+ individuals may experience trauma related to discrimination, hate crimes, and rejection. LGBTQ+ counselling offers a pathway to healing, helping individuals process their experiences, work through trauma, and build a supportive community.

My experience of providing LGBTQ+ counselling

I have been providing counselling and psychotherapy services to LGBTQ+ communities for the past 20 years. I was previously employed as a counsellor at The Rainbow Project in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and I later worked at an LGBT Mental Health charity in London. Currently, I am a member of the Psychology of Sexualities Section in the British Psychological Society (BPS).

Dr Terry Sergeant

Counselling Psychologist and CBT Therapist

Providing online counselling in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Dublin, Ireland, and London, England, as well as other parts of the UK and Ireland.

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If you are seeking LGBTQ+ counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), use the button below to schedule an appointment today.

Resources

The following websites are intended as helpful resources. We are not liable for the contents of any external sites listed, nor do we endorse any commercial product or service that may be mentioned or advised. 

Northern Ireland:

  • The Rainbow Project:  an organisation that works to improve the physical, mental & emotional health and wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ people and their families in Northern Ireland.
  • Cara-Friend: support for LGBTQ+ young people and adults throughout Northern Ireland.
  • Belfast Pride: Belfast Pride Festival is one of the biggest festivals in Belfast with over 150 events across 10 days.

LGBTQ+ Ireland Resources

UK / General Resources

  • Pink Therapy Directory:  Directory of LGBTQIA+ friendly therapists for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer people and gender, sex or relationship diverse communities.