Providing the appropriate level and type of mental healthcare for LGBT youth has been one of the greatest challenging facing youth therapists, psychologists, and counselors in the 21st Century. The issue is still somewhat controversial owing to the use of so-called conversion therapy to try and ‘cure’ youths of their sexual orientation. These therapies have largely been considered failures; not only do they do nothing to address the issues facing teenagers confused about their gender or sexuality, they are in fact actively harmful. A number of states have now banned the practice of sending children to such camps, but determined parents either take them out of state or ignore the rules altogether.
The history of our society’s treatment of LGBT people has made many wary of seeking out help for their own issues surrounding their sexuality, and many of the youth who could benefit from such counseling have little to no confidence in the ability of private institutions to deliver it properly. It is therefore important to make LGBT youth aware of the therapy options that are available and how they can help them. In this article, we will focus on art therapy, which is gaining popularity as an effective and popular treatment.
A Relaxed Atmosphere
One of the big advantages that art therapy has over other forms of therapy is that the atmosphere in art therapy is unlike that of conventional therapy; usually the patient will be talking to the counselor one on one and it is natural for patients to need some time to build rapport before they can effectively open up under such circumstances. Art therapy on the other hand is designed to help the patient to feel at ease and the counselor will initially focus on the art aspect in order to help bring the patient out of their comfort zone.
Identify Problematic Thoughts and Actions
Art therapy has been demonstrated to be effective in helping young people to overcome bullying, discrimination, and oppression. Art therapy is a good way of helping patients to identify and begin to deal with emotions that are difficult to process. When the patient can’t put their feelings into words, it is hard for them to talk about those feelings and to work through them. Art provides a new ‘language’ with which the patient can convey how they are feeling.
Learning to Live with Discrimination
Amanda Meeks, a woman with decades of experience in treating LGBT youth, believes that it is the small acts of aggression or dismissal that accumulate and impact most LGBT people’s emotional state rather than more significant individual acts of discrimination. If you think that working with LGBT youth to provide emotional support and improve their quality of life is something that appeals to you then you should look at online counseling degrees. An online masters in counseling is something you can study while working a job.
Art therapy is already making a big difference to many LGBT youth and looks set to continue to form an important part of future treatment protocols.