By Jane Burstein, LSW and Amanda Steinhoff, LSW
June 16, 2022
Pride is for everyone. Pride is a feeling, a celebration, a confidence, and so much more. As therapists at Josselyn and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, we value and celebrate pride in progress, identity, and community. After joining Josselyn we realized we wanted to offer support to LGBTQIA+ clients. In fall 2021 we started the Josselyn LGBTQIA+ Teen Support Group, and in winter 2022 we added the Josselyn LGBTQIA+ Adult Support Group. These groups offer a confidential safe space for clients to explore identity, receive emotional support, develop self-esteem, and build community.
We have learned so much from our two support groups, and what is most moving to watch, is when we get to see our group members learn from each other. In social work, we talk about the idea of “person in environment.” In other words, we all exist within multiple social circles that impact our lives. That is why supportive environments are so essential for mental health. Getting to witness firsthand as our group members share advice, offer comfort and encouragement to each other, sometimes simply nodding enthusiastically when another is sharing, has been truly joyous.
While Pride Month is a time of celebration and coming together, it can also be a time of reflection on our work as mental health care providers. Starting the support groups at Josselyn was a good step, but it is only one fraction of what is needed. It is so important for us all to examine how we work with our clients and ask, are we using therapeutic models that affirm our clients’ identities? Are there any unconscious biases showing up in our administrative systems? Are we taking the time to educate ourselves on current events or legislation that might be impacting the mental health of clients who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community? There is much on the line if we don’t ask ourselves these and other difficult questions. In a 2022 survey performed by The Trevor Project, researchers found that LGBTQIA+ adolescents who lived within supportive, affirming communities were substantially less likely to suffer from severe mental health concerns than peers who did not experience such community acceptance (The Trevor Project, n.d.)[i].
Fostering a supportive community can take many different forms. For some, it may look like joining in on protests or writing letters to politicians. It can take the form of seeking out LGBTQIA+ authors, artists, and musicians and sharing their work. Sometimes it can be as easy as asking someone their pronouns the first time you meet and offering them yours. Josselyn is committed to providing Mental health for all, and supportive services for the LGBTQIA+ community is very important. We are both proud of who we are and proud to work at Josselyn.
[i] The Trevor Project. (n.d.) 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health.