It’s no secret that throughout history, the mental health system hasn’t had the best track record with gender or sexuality minority clients—that is, members of LGBTQIA+ communities. Up until 1973, homosexuality was considered a clinically diagnosable disorder and non-heterosexual orientations remained pathologized in one way or another until the advent of the DSM-5 (5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) in 2013. This was the same year that “gender identity disorder” was removed from the DSM, as well, ending a similarly long-standing medicalization and pathologization of transgender identity. Things are getting better, but as a whole, we have a long way to go.
Affirming DBT at Growth Thru Change
Led by subject matter experts in issues related to LGBTQIA+ identity and care, the Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program at Growth Thru Change is designed with all of the above in mind. We understand that the mental and behavioral health struggles faced by members of LGBTQIA+ communities are not the result of any particular identities, but are instead most often a consequence of the negative reception of those identities in less-than-affirming environments. The skills acquired through DBT can help us navigate those environments, managing the discomfort and moving forward with a fuller sense of agency and self.
With LGBTQIA+ centered group options and with all of our groups operating within an LGBTQIA+ affirming framework, we can practice skills together in a way that takes seriously the lived experience of gender and sexual minority clients. Rather than thinking of the foundational DBT skill of radical acceptance, for example, as merely accepting our harmful or hurtful situation, we instead see it as a practice of acknowledging—at a level more fundamental than either approval or disapproval—the facts of our surroundings and circumstances. This then puts us in a more effective position to bring our full sense of agency toward responding to them, rather than reacting to them. Ultimately, we are empowered to not only navigate challenging circumstances, but to actively work toward improving them—for ourselves and for others.
The dynamic nature of LGBTQIA+ communities—both across the world and across time—can be a source of both inspiration and frustration, especially for those who are still working toward their own sense of self-acceptance and understanding. The skills learned through DBT help us lean into a comfort with multiple things being true at once: with being both non-binary and a woman, being both asexual and a lesbian, being both transgender and not wanting to transition, and so on. They can also provide us resources for handling uncertainty and change, such as when we are unsure of our identities or when we find that our identities are in flux.
The subject matter experts leading our program deeply understand this dynamism—on clinical, philosophical, and personal levels—and employ this understanding to provide an accessible and affirming space for clients of all identities and backgrounds to question, to grow, and to explore.
A Truly Affirming Space
LGBTQIA+ communities never had it easy and they are still increasingly under attack. These tense circumstances can lead to (or exacerbate) stress, struggle, loneliness, and more. You deserve a space where your identity is not just acknowledged, but is actively affirmed, welcomed, and understood. With Growth Thru Change’s DBT program, you will neither have to hide nor justify who you are or how you understand yourself, leading to one fewer barrier between you and the thriving future that’s ahead of you.
Learn More About Our DBT Program