This post is intended to be written without judgement and with all due respects to any and everyone.
For the past two to three years, I have received more and more enquiries that are LGBT related. One of the “categories”, is people who contacted me for their family members, i.e. not the client who reaches me for his/her problem.
In the beginning, I always assume that it’s the client who seeks help, because they are unsure, because they want to be “normal” again, because of the anxiety and/or mood problems that arise with his/her sexuality. Or, on top of all those who have approached me for those reasons, it also occurs that their issues are completely not related to their sexuality, it’s just that they think I have worked with people of similar backgrounds to theirs so I’d understand them better and we will get along well (put it simple, they wouldn’t need to worry about being judged by me because of the variety of clients I have come across).
But then, there are also more and more who approached me for their family members. And it’s not because their family members have any problems listed above. I remember seeing this lady in her mid-twenties, alone, only she and I. She completed the depression/anxiety scales on the table, which were looking more normal than me, and told me she has no problem, nothing to discuss. She said she came because the mum told her to, and she doesn’t know why they want her to come (…?). I was like… “Okay, I will call your brother and mother in then”, since it was the brother who booked the appointment with me.
What happened next, it’s not difficult to guess. She recently came out to her family, and none of the members can accept it. They said she was confused, she was affected by her group of friends and especially her partner of 6 years, she has low self-esteem, she always daydreams about having a handsome boyfriend who treats her like a princess, she has no other experience in romantic relationship etc etc.
I looked at her when the family was telling me what’s “wrong”, she was rolling eyes. I won’t deny that I was rolling eyes inside as well. (okay, only inside, it’d be unprofessional to do it…….)
The family wanted me to change her “back”, to help them to convince her “back”. It’s possible that she’s confused, but I like what I recently wrote to someone who’s enquiring for her partner:
“From my point of view, this is not something that people choose (just like I’m a straight, but I didn’t choose to become a straight person, likewise to anyone in the LGBT community). So it’s unless when people are confused (which rarely happens, unless they are still quite young and found that they seem to be different from the rest), then such [sexual orientation test] tool might be used. If the person herself, in this case your girlfriend rather clearly knows what sex/gender or who she likes, then nobody knows better than her, not her family, not you, not me, not any psychologist.
I have seen many family who insist that their family member should see me, and found out that it was more of the family’s non-accepting issues, not the client him/herself that’s having problem. In cases like this, I normally do psychoeducation with the family, and to a smaller extend, also with the client. It is a journey of acceptance for the family, and this can take a long time, especially for some traditional parents. ”
Yes I believe the person knows it best, and nobody else shall question that. You can care about him/her and ask him/her about it, but not questioning or criticising or convincing etc. (Of course it can be very confusing for people who are too young, or people who thought they were straight or homosexual but in the end found that they could be bisexual, but remember that for all of us, it’s a journey of exploration, nothing should be “certified”, let’s just be open?)
Yes, I don’t think people choose their orientation, neither do I think that there’s right or wrong. It DEFINITELY is not a mental problem. It happens naturally, just like for any straight person. But people who aren’t straight go through a lot more doubtful thought and painful emotion due to the “norm” in the society. And that’s not their fault, we owe them more support and care, and less judgement and prejudice. There’s nothing wrong with them. Be kind, treat them like how you’d like to be treated.