Clinicians hold a responsibility to their clients to remain judgement free. This is even more important when counseling gay or lesbian clients. “Indication of a good match for GLB clients is a counselor who can provide a safe and nonjudgmental place for GLB clients to work through their feelings; openness and complete confidentiality on the part of the counselor; and the counselor’s awareness of community services and resources. (Schwarzbaum & Taylor pg 347) It is also important for clinicians to ensure they have minimized the heterosexual bias. “Counselors working with sexual or gender-minority clients must be prepared to challenge some of their own preconceived notions about sex, gender and relationships and understand the client from their unique perspective.” (Mahon 2011 pg 26)
Differences in Counseling Gay/ Lesbian and Heterosexual Clients
Counseling gay and lesbian clients differs from heterosexual clients. One way this differs is gay and lesbian clients may feel fear or shame for their sexuality, while heterosexual clients do not. The clinician could also need to work with the gay/lesbian client on “coming out”. “Counselors have the ability to help clients to recognize coming out stressors, adequately prepare, and sufficiently process their coming out experiences.” (Ali web 2018) The clinician will also need to find resources specific to gay/ lesbian clients.
Specific Needs of Gay/ Lesbian Clients
Gay and lesbian clients will have some specific needs that differ from heterosexual clients. The coming-out process is one need that differs from heterosexual clients. During this time the clinician can help to assess with the client if they should come-out to those around them and provide support for any backlash they receive. Another specific need that gay and lesbian clients have is specific community resources. “Counselors can help normalize GLBT clients who are coming out by providing additional resources like clubs, Web sites, and books, so they can become more accepting of themselves.” (Adkins & Gardner web 2010) When counseling gay and lesbian clients it is important to keep any personal bias in check and if this is not possible for the clinician they should refer the client to another counselor.
- Adkins, Joshua and Gardner, Rebecca. “Needs Assessment for Counseling GLBT Clients.” 2010. Retrieved from https://www.counseling.org/resources/library/VISTAS/vistas12/Article_2.pdf
- Ali, Shianna. “Counseling Considerations for the Coming-Out Process.” 11 October 2018. Retrieved from https://www.counseling.org/news/aca-blogs/aca-member-blogs/aca-member-blogs/2018/10/11/counseling-considerations-for-the-coming-out-process
- Mahon, Megan. (2011) “Come and Be Who You Are.” Counseling Today. May 2011. Retrieved https://www.counseling.org/resources/library/Counseling%20Today/May2011CTOnline.pdf
- Schwarzbaum, S. E., & Jones Thomas, A. (2008). Dimesions of multicultural counseling a life story approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.