What is affirmative therapy?
Affirmative therapy is a therapeutic approach that holds a positive view of clients who identify as LGBTQ2s+, are from non-Caucasian ethnic or cultural backgrounds, are disabled, or are otherwise marginalized in society.
This therapeutic approach also acknowledges and rectifies the negative messages of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, heterosexism, racism, discrimination, ableism, misogyny, etc. and the impact these have on the lives of affected clients.
Psychological associations such as the American Psychological Association (APA), Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), as well as associations for marriage and family therapy recognize affirmative therapy as a positive treatment intervention to support LGBTQ2s+ clients. An affirmative therapist does not pathologize a person for being LGBTQ2s+, from different ethnic or cultural backgrounds, or disabled but rather embraces a positive view that celebrates the diversity in our society. An affirming therapist also recognizes these clients have unique lived experiences.
How does affirmative therapy work?
An affirming therapist works with sexually and gender diverse, racially and culturally diverse, and disabled clients to reach their mental wellness goals by encouraging the development of a positive identity and to provide support – especially during the journey of self-discovery. The therapist provides a safe space to explore additional issues such as systemic barriers and to navigate the bias and discrimination within the larger society. In addition, an affirming therapist is connected with the LGBTQ2+ friendly, racial and culturally diverse, and disability supports and resources available within the larger community to support you.
Embracing an affirmative point of view
At Insight Psychological our therapists embrace an affirmative view to work with our marginalized clients. We embody inclusive values, practice affirmative skills, and have supportive knowledge.
We respect clients from all domains of life and the values they hold. We create a space for self-discovery and growth that respects where one comes from and where one wants to be. Our mission is to promote the psychological health of people through the generation of awareness and the delivery of effective, prompt, quality psychological services.
When is affirmative therapy used?
Affirmative therapeutic approaches are inclusive – so society as a whole can benefit from these values and practices. The intent of affirmative therapy is to support ostracized members of the community with unique experiences, including individuals, couples, and families who are seeking optimal mental health.
People who are marginalized in society may experience:
- Feelings of fear (being caught or found out, or a very real fear for your safety)
- Feelings of shame, particularly in an openly non-accepting community
- Discrimination and harassment
- Family acceptance issues
- Social anxiety
- Feeling a lack of clarity with your gender identity (feeling like you were born in the wrong body or you don’t fit into traditional gender norms)
By utilizing affirmative therapy and being a proudly inclusive psychological firm, we can provide support for marginalized members of the community with this lens. This means we have knowledge, skills, resources, and expertise to support diversity and our therapists are knowledgeable in the unique challenges faced by this community. We have psychologists who are certified as Sex Therapists and can provide knowledgeable care in gender transition. We are also connected with the larger community’s resources to support our LGBTQ2s+, racial and culturally diverse, and disabled clients.
This type of therapy may be used to treat multiple conditions and concerns. It may also be used in conjunction with other treatment methods. Your therapist will work with you to determine the best treatment method for your individual circumstances.
You should be aware that there is no treatment method that is successful for every person. What works for you, may not work for someone else.
What to expect from therapy
Put simply, you will get out of therapy what you put into it. It’s not a magic solution that will solve all your problems. It may involve you doing some real work and being completely honest with yourself and your therapist. Sometimes facing our truth is the hardest thing of all – but from that discomfort can come healing and growth.