Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression
Prejudice and discrimination is pervasive among counselors working with minority groups including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) members. Like other minority groups, LGBTQ members experience high mental health issues due to stigma, discrimination, and violence they experience from the members of the society. As a result, anxiety, depression, and suicidality are persistent among members of LGBTQ. Members of this group subsequently seek therapy to find relief. However, instead of finding solutions to their problems, most of the counselors grind salt to the wounds by further subjecting them to prejudice and discrimination.
While therapists are perceived as saviors of mental problems, they are not immune to prejudicial attitudes, which in turn induces mental issues. For instance, a counselor can use comments like “I’m not sure we need to focus on sexual orientation to understand your depression”. Such a statement clearly reveals the professional’s discomfort with the client’s sexual orientation. While such comments are overt, they greatly affect the counseling process. These incidents occur due to incompetence of counselors concerning sexual orientation. For instance, Grove revealed inadequate knowledge on lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues among trainee and newly qualified counselors in Britain (2009). These limitations undermine the goals of counseling.
Prejudice can affect the quality of therapy by altering the professional’s perceptions concerning sexual orientation or minimizing the experiences being reported by a client. For instance, a counselor who strongly believes that women exaggerate things is likely to ignore claims made by a female client. Prejudice and discrimination are harmful to vulnerable clients who may feel distant from the therapist and in turn withhold sensitive information or terminate treatment. Consequently, the clients’ condition worsens. It is, therefore, important for counselors and educators to examine their own biases to ensure effective therapy. This course has taught me the dangers of bias in practice and helped me to reflect on my own biases and focus on creating safe and supportive relationships with clients to foster self-acceptance and personal development.
Sexual anatomies, physiologies, and responses are complex. The female organ’s main parts are the vulva for pleasure and protection and the vagina, which is the birth canal. The female internal sex organs include uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. The male sex organs, on the other hand, consist of the penis, which is responsible for initiating orgasm and releasing semen and urine while the internal organs include the urethra, the epididymis, vas deferens, seminal vesicles, and prostate glands. When the clitoris and the penis are aroused, parts of the brain like the temporal cortex, insula, basal ganglia, and dorsolateral among others are activated. Sexual response happens in various phases including desire, excitement, orgasm and pleasure.
There have been new facts on the male and female sexual anatomy, physiologies, and responses. For instance, the American Cancer Society released statistics on male breast cancer, which changed my perception of human sexuality (2019). Many people would also be alarmed to learn about breast cancer in men because this type of cancer has been widely associated with women only. The data has equipped me with knowledge that men, despite the small size of breasts, have breast tissue which contains ducts and glands where cancer forms. When faced by such strange facts, I might find it difficult to handle the situation but would ensure I remain professional and helpful. For instance, if I assess a hermaphrodite client, I would politely ask him/her which side he/she identifies with to avoid using an unfavorable pronoun that might offend the person.
American Cancer Society. (2019, Jan 8). Key statistics for breast cancer in men. American Cancer Society. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer-in-men/about/key-statistics.html
Grove, J. (2009, May 14). How competent are trainee and newly qualified counselors to work with lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients and what do they perceive as their most effective learning experiences?. Counseling and Psychology Research, 9(2), 78-85. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14733140802490622