Carol A. Boyer, MA, LPC, NCC
No one should ever be made to feel inferior, sick, wrong, or "less-than," simply because of who they are, or the people to whom they are attracted. Opposite-sex and same-sex attraction and behavior is a normal part of nature, and is widely reflected in the animal kingdom. In fact, Helen Fisher, PhD, in her book, Anatomy of Love, states that "...homosexuality is so common in other species -- and it occurs in such a variety of circumstances -- that human homosexuality is striking not in its prevalence but in its rarity."
Unfortunately, not everyone in our society understands this. Many people continue to believe that individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, or questioning (LGBTIQQ) are somehow wrong, sick, or "choosing" a lifestyle that is unhealthy or dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Our identities are complex. Age, race, ethnicity, economic status, social standing, spiritual and political affiliation, as well as myriad other factors, inform not only who we are, but also what we value, how we interpret the behavior of others, and how we perceive our place in the larger society. Other vital components of our identity include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and relationship style. When our sexual and/or relational identity is questioned, or is viewed as being "abnormal" by others, developing a healthy sense of self can be a real challenge.
In the last few years, the US has made significant progress, with respect to LGBT rights. Marriage equality is now the law of the land. More employers are including sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has finally been repealed. But our work is far from finished. There are still many places in society where LGBTIQQ individuals, couples, and families are being discriminated against, through bigotry, fear, or just plain ignorance.
The counseling office should not be one of those places.
My most important task as a counselor is to understand who you are, and what your life looks like from your point of view. The goals we work toward will be the ones you choose. Whether you are out-and-proud, confused-and-questioning, or somewhere in-between, when you come to me for counseling, you will find a safe, supportive, affirming environment where you can explore all aspects of your identity without criticism or judgment, and set goals that move you closer to the person you most want to be.
50 Church Street, Suite L3, Montclair, NJ 07042