In today’s world, LGBTQ+ teens face unique challenges. Without the appropriate support, they can find themselves struggling to understand their identity and process their emotions, and at risk for anxiety, depression, isolation, and confusion. The current onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being proposed in state houses across the country (including many that specifically target LGBTQ+ students and youth), has also increased the potential for negative mental health impacts.
What are some of the specific issues / concerns that today’s LGBTQ+ teens might be struggling with?
- Isolation – LGBTQ+ teens need the ability to connect with peers to feel heard and validated in their struggles. They also need safe individuals in their lives (including adults) who they can open up to about their problems.
- Identity Exploration – Teens need safe and affirming spaces to explore their identity without judgment.
- Identifying and Expressing Emotions – Teens can find it difficult to identify and communicate their feelings. It can leave them feeling like something is wrong with them and may make it hard to figure out how they can best get support.
- Coping Skills – Teens may have limited coping skills to help them regulate while they navigate being a queer teen. Without having healthy and helpful coping skills, life can feel very hard and maybe even unbearable at times.
What are some effective strategies teens and those who support them can use to help address those issues / concerns?
- Identify safe, affirming people & talk with them about what it means to be an LGBTQ+ teenager in today’s world
- Optimize interpersonal / intrapersonal relationships
- Increase social support systems
- Learn to positively express self through creative means
Group therapy can help bring people with similar identities and struggles together where they can get support from people who can empathize with them. It can be a space to learn more about yourself and to increase one’s ability to communicate wants and needs to others in a safe space. Group therapy can also assist teens in identifying safe individuals in their lives who they can open up to about their problems. Teens can find a safe and affirming space to explore their identity without judgment.
This blog is authored by Dr. Leesa Contorino, PsyD-L and Summer Valentine, MS, LPC, members of the IntraSpectrum Counseling clinical team. IntraSpectrum Counseling is Chicago’s leading psychotherapy practice dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community, and we strive to provide the highest quality mental health care for multicultural, kink, polyamorous, and intersectional issues. For anyone needing affirming and validating support, please click here or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.