Do you feel alone or as if you are you living a double life because of your gender expression or sexual identity?
Have you experienced rejection or discrimination by your family, friends, neighbors, school, co-workers, religious or secular institutions?
Has being a part of the LGBTQ+ community elicited stress, anxiety, depression, anger, and/or substance abuse?
Do you and your spouse/partner need support as a couple from an LGBTQ+ affirming & knowledgeable therapist?
It can be incredibly stressful and exhausting to censor your authentic self due to threats or repercussions you have experienced or having the fear of potential consequences for expressing your true gender and/or sexual identity. Even if you have found or created a supportive community of other LGBTQ+ families, friends, and coworkers, there are still people, places, and institutions that do not yet welcome all LGBTQ+ individuals.
Institutionalized homophobia and discrimination against LGBTQ+ folks is real, painful, unfair, and limiting. While some marginalized populations can find unconditional love, belonging, and solace with their family, friends and neighbors who also have similar identities, and spiritual communities, this is not always the case with individuals who identify as LGBTQ+.
Many LGBTQ+ individuals & couples struggle personally and relationally at times.
Do you have relationships with your family of origin or significant others (friends or co-workers) that you want to mend because of past hurtful words they said, supportive words they didn’t say, or even unintentional discriminatory messages they expressed? As one of my clients (with permission) shared, “There’s a reason Pride Fest is on Father’s Day”.
Perhaps you are part of an LGBTQ+ couple and experiencing difficult dynamics, which may be attributed to the challenges that all couples face at different points in their relationship. (Ex. conflicts regarding sex, mess, kids, work, and money affect everyone.) However, LGBTQ+ couples also may face internalized homophobia and holding inside the pain of discrimination or microaggressions, which can take its toll in the form of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse or other addictions, and even anger or violence toward one another.
Are you seeking emotional support and guidance as you navigate the process of gender transition? You might also be looking for a qualified therapist to write your WPATH-SOC letter in order to start hormone replacement therapy or undergo gender affirmation surgery?
LGBTQ+ counseling can help you heal, live an authentic, joyful, and successful life, and create healthier relationships.
Whether you identify as queer, gay, lesbian, bi, curious, questioning, or trans, I can provide a safe, non-judgmental space for you to speak openly, work through past and present hurt, fine tune your relationship skills with your partner, and brainstorm your version of your ideal life. You may wish to explore and process the question, “Who am I?”. You may wish to discuss the nuanced process of coming out and weigh the benefits and the risks.
Or, you may be beyond the “coming out” process and desiring instead to work on relational goals, such as: finding your LGBTQ+ tribe of friends or an intimate partner, exploring options of having children, working through common relationship issues, overcoming the challenges of blended families, empowering your children or yourself to assertively speak up to combat homophobia and educate others about inclusion.
Even if you are at the top of your game in your career, finances, and relationships, you might still need support in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, or past trauma. It’s actually not uncommon for these issues to rise to the surface once we feel safe and supported in our lives.
I’m considering LGBTQ+ counseling, but still have questions and concerns…
“Are you a part of the LGBTQ+ Community? If not, how do you understand my unique experience and the dynamics of queer couples?”
First, I am an ally and have been an ally to the LGBTQ+ community from birth.
I grew up with two loving uncles and their community of friends, which felt like a family. I also got to know the LGBTQ+ community through my family’s business. Here is a link to a historic newspaper article photo of my parents (yes, that’s them handcuffed to each other ;), my uncle Pat, and other bar manager, Ben. As a “tween”, my parents and uncles opened their first gay bar in Chicago called Christopher Street at the corner of Halsted and Cornelia.
To learn more about my unique story about growing up in “Boys Town” (in Chicago), click the link here.
Because I lost an amazing community to AIDS in the ’80s and ’90s, I am committed to my office being a safe, nonjudgmental space for clients to talk about sex, gender, and sexuality. I also strive to keep up with knowledge about safer sex practices and the prevention and treatment of HIV. For example, here is a TED Talk called, “Our treatment of HIV has advanced. Why hasn’t the stigma changed?“
Second, as part of my job as a couples and family therapist and adjunct faculty member at University of Denver (DU) teaching a Couples Therapy class, it is my responsibility to keep abreast of current research on best practices in working with couples of all backgrounds. I find it energizing to keep up with sex positive and LGBTQ+ affirming authors and speakers. At the beginning of my career as a K-12 teacher and therapist, I joined the organization, GLSEN (gay, lesbian, and straight education network) and began educating my colleagues on the unique needs and strengths of LGBTQ+ students and how we could make schools safer for these youth.
Thirdly, I strive to continually remain curious, not make assumptions, and learn from each unique client, couple, and family.
“I am gender questioning and worried that a therapist will try to change me.”
I absolutely will not try to change you, and I totally condemn “reparative” or “aversion” therapies. I support you to express and identify your gender in the ways that feel most congruent and authentic for you. I believe that we have the right to be experts on ourselves and that means we know who are truly are even if our outside does not match our inside. We even know this as children as evidenced by my 7 year old son who recently said, “It’s the inside that matters Mommy.” I believe that embracing our nature as multi-faceted humans should be celebrated! It takes courage to be true to oneself and not conform to society’s traditional standards.
“Can you help me through my process of gender transition?”
I can support you emotionally through your process, and believe that every individual has the right to live an authentic life and feel content within their own skin. Since I am not trained in the WPATH process, however, I am fortunate to have a network of several outstanding sex therapists who I collaborate with and/or can refer individuals to in cases that my clients need more specialized care.
March 2020 UPDATE:
I’m excited to offer online counseling as one of my services! I use a platform called “Doxy”, which allows us to have secure, HIPAA-compliant video sessions, and you don’t have to be tech-savvy to use it. You just click on the link I send you in an email and our session will begin.
Whether you’re interested in an in person session or online session~ Simply contact me for a free 15 minute individual phone consultation or 30 minute in person couples therapy consultation to answer any questions you have and determine if I am a good fit for your needs. You can conveniently schedule your consultation or first session on my on-line calendar or call Lana Isaacson, LCSW, CAC III, Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy at 720.432.5262.
You can also check out my one of a kind affordable workshops open to ALL couples:
Keeping the Spark Alive! – A 3 hour interactive workshop for Parents of young children (middle school and younger).
Have Each Other’s Backs Again – A transformational all day interactive workshop supporting couples in recovery (from substance abuse, mental health issues, trauma, and/or generations of divorce or unfulfilling relationships).