For individuals who consider themselves a part of the LGBTQ+ community, coming out includes exploring one's identity and sharing that identity with others, be it at a large or small scale. This process involves coming to terms with the fact that they exist in a society, broadly, that tends to negatively judge others for differing from the norm. Because the coming out process is so individualized, people may be relatively certain of their sexuality at a certain age and/or continue to question and explore for the remainder of their lives.
How can counseling be a source of support for exploring sexual identity?
- Identifying and clarifying issues --- it is common for people to come into counseling and not be certain of what is troubling them, but they know that something internally is causing friction within themselves. Since feelings are so complex and multifaceted, a counselor can help to clarify whatever feelings may manifest during sessions.
- Identifying, clarifying, and expressing feelings --- it is common for people to have difficulty labeling emotions and feelings, especially if they are new and are finding thinking about these manifestations distressing in some manner. Feelings can sometimes seem like they can't be controlled and are confusing.
- Deciding action steps --- people can often feel stuck and uncertain when they believe that there is more than one way to behave or handle a situation. Counselors can help clients come up with multiple options and alternatives.
- Developing and enhancing relationship skills --- it can be helpful to utilize a support system during times of questioning and reflection, and counselors can help clients feel seen, heard, and to set boundaries within relationships so that communication can be the most effective it can be.
Here at Madrigal, we are committed to guiding addressing sexual identity in a holistic manner to reach your best potential.
*This information was adapted from the Counseling Center at NC State University. Click here to learn more information.*