Counselling for the gay community
Gay men experience all the usual problems listed under brief counselling and long-term therapy however after working with gay men for many years I have become highly experienced in issues which are quite specific to the gay community and I have a particular interest in working with this client group.
What issues bring gay men to therapy and what benefits can you expect?
Some gay men struggle to come to terms with their own sexuality perhaps due to religious or cultural beliefs. This internalised homophobia makes life very difficult and might lead to feelings of shame and disgust. Some fear how others would react to their sexual orientation and choose not to come out to family, friends or co-workers. This fear of stigma and societal or familial homophobia often makes living a secret gay life essential and can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety hoping that no one finds out. Therapy can reduce these painful feelings and help you accept yourself and your sexuality whether or not you decide to come out to others.
Other gay men may become unhappy with their sexual behaviour and the risks they might be taking with their health. You might find yourself addicted to porn, sex or networking sites such as Gaydar, Gay Romeo or Grindr. You might suddenly find yourself spending all weekend watching porn and masturbating or else looking for random hookups. This might then start affecting your jobs as it slowly seeps into your week nights too. For many men, the excitement of casual hookups soon wears off and they are left feeling empty, yet at the same time they feel they cannot stop these activities. Therapy can help you explore healthier ways to meet your needs, which often are not really related to sex but rather to issues around low self-esteem and loneliness.
Many men frequent saunas and sex clubs, drink heavily or make use of recreational drugs and then have unprotected sex with multiple partners. This puts you at risk for STDs and HIV. Receiving an HIV or Hepatitis diagnosis can be extremely traumatic and bring up all sorts of questions and anxieties and most men find counselling helpful around this time. I have worked with a leading HIV charity for many years and I have a clear understanding of the medical side of infection but more importantly I can work with you on the emotional issues that you are left with; or in the case of a negative diagnosis I can help you look at ways to change your current lifestyle to avoid becoming infected.
How many sessions does it involve?
The length of therapy is something that we will agree on together depending on your needs. Some men only need a few sessions while others prefer to commit to longer term counselling to look at several different concerns. In addition, you might choose to come for either individual sessions or else couples’ counselling with your partner.