People sometimes seek a therapist and want to know if they can help them to deal with specific issues. Throughout my career as a therapist, there are a number of issues that I have developed expertise, training and experience in working with clients to address. Some of these are:
Issues for Gay Men
Many things have changed for gay men today, but they still face unique challenges in their lives. Coming out, dealing with shame and guilt, and understanding the impact of internalized homophobia, are all things gay men experience. Gay men may have to deal with challenges in feeling good about themselves and their lives, and establishing the kinds of relationships they would like to have.
Growing up gay, even today, is not easy. Negotiating sexuality presents different issues for gay men and this may be something they want to explore in a safe, non-judgmental place.
Some gay men simply want to ensure they have a therapist that they can feel comfortable talking about all aspects of their life with, and who can understand the experience they are facing.
Childhood Sexual Abuse of Men
As a Child and Family Therapist, I worked extensively with boys who had been sexually abused. I helped them to understand that it was not their fault, and that they were not responsible for what happened. This work helped me to understand the impact that men carry forward into their lives having been sexually abused as children. Sexuality, trust, relationships and self-worth, are all impacted by the experience of having been abused. This can be especially difficult for men, who are socialized not to be victims.
Gay men who have been sexually abused face distinct challenges. They typically wonder if the abuse impacted their sexual orientation, and if they were chosen because their abuser somehow knew they were gay. Through therapy, I have helped many gay men work through these issues and others that come from being victimized as children.
I was a designated therapist for the Cornwall Inquiry into Sexual Abuse, and provided counselling to victims from that Inquiry.
The face of HIV/AIDS has changed as knowledge and treatment has developed. People who live with HIV still face issues of stigma, fear, shame and guilt, as well as depression. Being HIV-Positive remains a challenge for those infected and affected.
Therapy is often a good addition to the wellness regimen of the HIV-Positive person. It may be to deal directly with the impact of HIV, or it may be to deal with other issues, where HIV is more of a thread in a larger tapestry. Having worked in an HIV Counselling program for ten years, I am able to offer understanding and compassion, as well as a great deal of experience.
A large number of my clients bring concerns around their substance use involving drugs and/or alcohol. They want to explore their concerns about their use in therapy. Often they are already involved in addiction treatment, residential or community-based, and are seeking individual therapy in concert with the other work they are doing.
I work within a Harm-Reduction framework; however, for some clients that includes abstinence. I work collaboratively (always with client consent) with other treatment-providers if needed.
Many of my clients have decided that they would like to explore, in a more in-depth fashion, the issues that are concerning them in their present life. For them, this involves a commitment to long-term psychotherapy where they will have the opportunity to understand in a deep and meaningful way, the formative relationships in their lives, typically their family, and the ways that their early experiences shape their current situation. The patterns of interaction that they bring to their relationships are identified in therapy. The goal, increased self-awareness and understanding, can bring enhanced satisfaction in all aspects of their lives.
Anxiety and Depression
Many people experience anxiety and depression at one time or another in their lives, and this often precipitates a decision to seek a therapist. For others, this may be a more chronic state-of-being.
Some clients may have been prescribed anti-anxiety/anti-depressants, however, feel they would also like to understand the root causes of their feelings, and to work with those as well as the symptoms treated pharmacologically. I am comfortable working with both anxiety and depression, and bring a variety of ways of understanding both the symptoms, as well as the underlying issues.