Andrew works with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender clients (18+) within an affirmative framework. This means that he seeks to provide a safe space, in which LGBTQI+ clients may gain greater acceptance of themselves, and, like the vast majority of therapists, he does not consider gender identity or sexual orientation to be a 'problem' or an 'illness'. Andrew has recently undertaken specialist training in supporting and working with Gender Identity, with Pink Therapy in London.
"Since 1973, when the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, it has been recognised that same-sex attraction is a normal variant of human sexuality. Similarly there are diverse forms of gender identity none of which is specifically related to psychopathology. Consistently found, however, is that stigmatising, stressful experiences for sexual and gender minority individuals, resulting from prejudice, can lead to increased risk of emotional problems, suicide attempts, and substance abuse". British Psychological Society guidelines.
LGBTQI+ clients come to therapy to talk about the same range of issues as any other client. However, Andrew is conscious that many LGBTQI+ clients have had to struggle throughout their lives to find some degree of acceptance within their family, community or workplace.
Many LGBTQI+ clients, even many who believe that they have accepted their own identity, can experience feelings of shame or self-loathing, sometimes called 'internalised homophobia/transphobia/biphobia', etc. Research suggests this may be partly due to the negative messages about gender and sexual diversity that they have picked up from their environment (whether it be home, school, community, workplace), and negative experiences, of homophobia / biphobia / transphobia or homophobic / biphobic / transphobic bullying or violence.
Even if these feelings are unconscious, left unaddressed they may contribute to relationship problems, depression, suicidal thoughts, addictions or to other compulsive and harmful behaviours, often with serious consequences for the client's health or relationships. LGBTQI+ affirmative counselling / psychotherapy can support you as you begin to address these issues and to learn to understand and accept yourself more fully.
Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence suggests that some counsellors and therapists in Ireland are still offering 'pray away the gay' counselling or so-called 'reparative therapy' to vulnerable individuals. Anyone considering engaging in such a process should be advised that there is no scientific evidence that it works and there is considerable evidence to suggest that it may be experienced as harmful.
Guidelines published by the College of Psychiatry in Ireland
Statement on 'reparative' or 'conversion' therapy by a consensus of British mental health organisations
Report of the American Psychological Association Taskforce on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation