Affirmative therapy is a therapeutic approach that recognizes, validates, and supports the experiences and identities of individuals who belong to marginalized or stigmatized communities. This inclusive and empowering form of therapy aims to create a safe and affirming space for clients who identify as LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and other diverse sexual orientations and gender identities) and other marginalized groups.
Moreover, it focuses on the individual’s gender identity, ethnicity, race, and other social identities, as everyone deserves respectful treatment with a wise understanding. It rejects pathologizing and attempts to “fix” or change someone’s identity or orientation, instead embracing and celebrating their authentic self. It encourages people to live free from the constraints of discrimination and prejudice, promoting their overall well-being and mental health.
What Are The Goals Of Affirmative Therapy?
Affirmative psychotherapy creates a supportive and empowering environment for individuals from marginalized or stigmatized communities. These goals include:
Validation And Acceptance:
It validates the clients’ emotions, identities, and experiences. Also, it promotes the acceptance of clients without opting for prejudiced approaches. For example, it accepts people with their original gender identity or other marginalized aspects of their identity.
Affirmative therapy techniques can help individuals resolve all mental health considerations. It promotes an ideal space for them to process their experiences, make effective strategies, and create resilience in the face of societal prejudice and discrimination.
Identity Exploration And Development:
Affirmative therapy aims to aid clients in self-discovery and self-identification. It encourages individuals to embrace their uniqueness positively.
Building Self-Esteem And Empowerment:
The therapy helps clients to challenge negative beliefs and foster a sense of self-acceptance.
It aims to empower clients. By providing a safe and non-judgmental environment, therapists help clients challenge internalized negative beliefs, develop self-acceptance, and foster a sense of agency and self-determination.
Relationship And Community Support:
The therapy helps identify that the person requires social support and community connections. It also helps clients strengthen bonds with partners, family, friends, and supportive community members. It can also help foster a sense of belonging, reducing isolation.
Advocacy And Social Change:
Whether you are looking for a broader social change and equality or want to provide resources and support to LGBTQIA while encouraging clients to be indulged in advocacy efforts that promote inclusivity and challenge discrimination.
Therefore, affirmative therapy’s main objectives are encouraging well-being, empowerment, resilience, and self-acceptance from society while promoting mental health issues within their unique experiences and identifications.
How Does Affirmative Therapy Work?
The therapists offer effective treatments to promote patients’ mental health by uplifting their identities.
Patients will collaborate with affirmative therapists to attain their mental health objectives while actively advancing their identities. The practice also attempts to support patients experiencing prejudices like homophobia or transphobia.
There are numerous ways that a positive therapeutic practice can be helpful. One way the staff may strive to encourage LGBTQIA identities is through the physical environment. This can be offering a variety of readings or information in the lobby or ensuring the company has gender-neutral restrooms.
It might also appear in the language used, such as when utilizing the patient’s preferred pronouns or asking inquiries in terms other than gender-specific. For example, do you have a partner rather than asking If you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
When Is Affirmative Therapy Used?
Affirmative therapy is used when working with people who identify as LGBTQIA+ or come from marginalized or stigmatized communities. It is used in various therapeutic contexts, such as group therapy, individual therapy, and counselling for couples. Affirmative therapy addresses identity-related problems, trauma, depression, and anxiety. When clients seek assistance navigating the difficulties and discrimination, they can experience due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or other marginalized facets of their identity; it is very beneficial. During affirmative therapy, clients can explore their identities, process their experiences, and work towards personal growth, self-acceptance, and resilience in an accepting and safe environment.
What To Expect From Therapy?
An affirmative therapist needs to be able to:
- Self-reflection – consider your background, attitudes, and beliefs; identify areas of privilege; and admit bias resulting from living in a heteronormative and gender-binarism culture.
- Lead a positive life while learning about the problems and pursuing social justice and change.
- Establish an inclusive environment by making LGBT-friendly reading materials, books, and resources available; using the client’s preferred name; and including affirming wording on all documents. Avoid making heteronormative assumptions by instead getting information about a client’s spouse.
- Encourage yourself to work with any client, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, and provide affirmative therapy.
- Advocate for cisgender and heterosexual clients by criticizing sexism and the gender binary.
Simply said, what you put into treatment is what you will get from it. It’s not a quick fix that will take care of all your issues. It can entail working hard and being honest with your therapist and yourself. The most challenging thing we can do at times is face our truth, but from that discomfort can come healing and growth.