As we embrace the vibrant and empowering month of Pride, it's crucial for therapists to reflect on the progress made for LGBTQ+ rights and the challenges that persist worldwide. In our recent chapter in the Sage Handbook for Counselling and Psychotherapy, (Davies and Neal 2023), we proposed six core components of GSRD as an emergent Therapeutic Approach. The first is that GSRD Therapy is rooted in Social Justice. So I’m using the opportunity of this Pride blog to not only celebrate the resilience and diversity of the LGBTQ+ community but also to shed light on recent worldwide developments, such as Uganda's legal ban, China's repression of LGBT individuals, and the UK government's delayed proposals for a Conversion Therapy ban. I know some therapists hold the view that we as therapists should not be political, but I would challenge that. How can we be involved in helping marginalised and oppressed people become empowered without reference to seeing this as an political act.
As therapists, we play a vital role in creating safe and affirming spaces for our LGBTQ+ clients, and this Pride Month presents an opportunity to renew our commitment to their well-being.
Uganda's Legal Ban: A Step Backward for LGBTQ+ Rights
Regrettably, Uganda recently implemented a harsh law criminalising same-sex relationships, further marginalising the LGBTQ+ community, even someone renting a room to an LGBTQ person could be fined or imprisoned. As therapists, it's essential to acknowledge the emotional toll such legislation can have on our clients wherever in the world they come from. Hurting some of us impacts the collective unconscious of us all, leaving people feeling vulnerable and insecure. Creating a safe environment where they can express their fears, anxieties, and frustrations becomes even more crucial. By providing support, we can help our clients navigate the emotional challenges that arise from external discrimination and offer resilience-building tools.
China's Repression of LGBT Individuals: Advocacy Beyond Borders
China's continued repression of its LGBT population remains a cause for concern. The state recently closed down the Beijing LGBT Centre affecting the social support of hundreds of LGBT people. I’ve spent the past three months working with a small team of LGBT psychologists sharing some training skills and knowledge as they try to raise awareness amongst their colleagues.
As therapists, it's vital to stay informed about global human rights issues affecting our clients. Understanding the cultural and societal contexts that impact our clients' lives allows us to provide more nuanced and empathetic support. Advocacy can take many forms, from raising awareness within our professional networks to supporting organisations that champion the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals globally.
The UK Government and Conversion Therapy: The Ongoing Battle for Equality
Despite promising commitments, the UK government's failure to announce concrete proposals for an inclusive Conversion ‘Therapy’ ban is disappointing. As therapists, we must advocate for the rights and well-being of our LGBTQ+ clients. It is very clear the harm these practices do and it would be great if all NCPS members could write to their MP’s to put pressure on the Equalities minister to deliver on the promises made several years ago. We can use our platforms to raise awareness of the dangers and unethical nature of Conversion practices, emphasising the need for legal protections and affirming therapeutic practices. Engaging in discussions with colleagues, signing petitions, and supporting LGBTQ+ organizations can contribute to the collective effort for change.
Celebrating Progress: Supporting LGBTQ+ Clients in Positive Ways
While acknowledging the challenges, it's equally important to celebrate the progress made in LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity. Pride Month serves as a reminder of the milestones achieved and the resilience of the LGBTQ+ community. As therapists, we can celebrate by incorporating LGBTQ+ affirmative practices into our therapeutic approaches. By actively educating ourselves, using inclusive language, and creating safe spaces for exploration, we affirm our commitment to supporting our LGBTQ+ clients' mental health and well-being.
Let us use this month as a catalyst for change, advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and creating safe spaces where our clients can thrive and embrace their authentic selves. Together, we can make a difference and ensure that every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, feels seen, supported, and celebrated.
With thanks to our Gender, Sexual and Relationship Diversity Ambassador, Dominic Davies Fellow NCPS, for this blog post.