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Sexual Identity Mental Health in Thousand Oaks, CA

At La Ventana Treatment Programs we understand that sexual identity is an internal element and who a person is does not change based on external circumstances. Sexual identity refers to an individual’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to others. Within the 2S/LGBTQIA+ community sexual identity encompasses a diverse range of identities and experiences. Here are some key components:

Claiming One’s Sexual Identity

that is not the norm can be difficult for the 2S/LGBTQIA+ community. Acceptance from family, friends and society at large can be difficult. Hatred from misunderstanding is possible and prejudice is widespread. Some of the issues faced when claiming a sexual identity other than male or female are:

  • You can be told it’s just a phase
  • There are institutions who claim they can cure you
  • You can be bullied and discriminated against
  • People may say you are confused
  • You might hear that you are doing this for attention
  • You are trying to hard to be different
  • You will change your mind when you meet the right person
  • You have been hanging around the wrong people
  • Negative stereotypes emerge about you
  • Social media has influenced you badly
  • People may be afraid of you

It is of vital importance that one defines who they are, what their sexual identity is and not allow somebody else to choose their sexual identity.

A person’s choice must be respected and if asked by somebody to use their chosen name and pronoun La Ventana staff will respect their choice and use their correct name and pronoun.

At La Ventana we affirm and respect our client’s sexual identity and meet our clients where they are in their life.

Self-Acceptance

Self-acceptance for the 2S/LGBTQIA+ can be difficult as society’s view may conflict with theirs. Some members take years to reach a self-acceptance of who they are while others may do it much quicker. Social stories told about someone based on their sex assigned at birth by family, school, peers, parents, friends etc. may conflict with their identity. If the social story does not fit with the person it can be difficult to accept the part of oneself that doesn’t fit the mold.

  • Some people will just ignore it in hopes they will become what society expects
  • Some people will embrace their true selves but experience bullying and rejection from other people
  • Some people may hate this part of themselves and fight it to accept what society wants them to be. They may even become an advocate against the 2S/LGBTQIA+ community.
  • Some people will struggle with this for years and may lead to disturbing mental health issues.

At La Ventana we understand the difficulty of self-acceptance in the 2S/LGBTQIA+ community and meet the client where they are in their own self-acceptance.

What we implement

AFFIRMATIVE THERAPY PRACTICES:

Staff is trained in affirmative therapy approaches that validate and affirm the identities of LGBTQIA+ clients. This includes using inclusive language, respecting chosen names and pronouns, and avoiding assumptions about clients’ sexual orientation or gender identity. La Ventana Staff is aware of the unique issues faced by LGBTQIA+ youth, elders, and people of color within the community.

INTERSECTIONALITY:

Emphasize the intersectionality of identities within the LGBTQIA+ community, recognizing that individuals may experience discrimination and marginalization based on multiple factors such as race, ethnicity, disability, socioeconomic status, etc. La Ventana staff are mindful of these intersecting identities and how they may influence mental health experiences and treatment needs.

ADDRESSING BIAS AND DISCRIMINATION:

La Ventana staff are trained on addressing and challenging biases and discrimination within oneself and among colleagues. La Ventana staff understand the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment free from judgment or prejudice.

Minority Stress Theory

Being a member of the 2S/LGBTQIA+ community can be an inherently stressful experience due to stigma and discrimination from interpersonal relationships and the environment one lives in. This may lead to mental health difficulties that negatively affect one’s life and further provide false evidence that 2S/LGBTQIA+ people are different which continues a cycle of oppression. La Ventana staff are aware of subtleties that cause stress to the clients and understand the stress they have experienced.

Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors In Context

These are all connected in our world and there are many things in the world around us that can have influence over our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. These influences (whatever they be) have an impact on our life and we may or may not be aware. The 2S/LGBTQIA+ community has additional negative influences due to prejudice and discrimination to name a few.

Understanding what influences us is helpful. Clients Write things down that are disturbing and then discuss them in group. It could be people, groups, institutions, laws, politics, social norms or any number of things. La Ventana staff understand the thoughts, feeling and behaviors occurring with the clients.

2S/LGBTQIA+ RTC House

Resilience in the 2S/LGBTQIA+ Community

Resilience is defined as

  • the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties
  • the ability of a person to adjust to or recover readily from adversity, major life changes, etc
  • the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events
  • the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences
  • the “ordinary magic” that you can use to bounce back from hard times

Each client has their own personal resilience:

  • Natural
  • Something you can develop
  • A set of skills you use to cope with adversity
  • Developed intra personally (within you) and inter personally (with others)
  • Composed of strategies and processes over time
  • Multiplied, the more you develop it
  • Connected to thriving in the future

At La Ventana we show our clients their own resilience and how to tap into it.

Resilience is a collection of coping strategies and each person collects new strategies throughout their life.

  • A list of resilience strategies and Skills for the 2S/LGBTQIA+ community are used to strengthen one’s resilience.

The core of one’s own resilience as a 2S/LGBTQIA+ person is your ability to define your gender identity and sexual orientation for yourself and the core resilience strategy is:

Emotional distress as mental health challenges such as adverse childhood experiences, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and attempts. This stress theory is used to explain the effects of the unique stressors experienced by 2S/LGBTQIA+ individuals. Studies have found that these individuals reported significantly higher mean totals of adverse childhood experiences than their heterosexual peers. Sexual abuse, physical abuse, peer victimization, alienation, prejudice, bullying exacerbate the poorer mental health outcomes of this population.

Stigmatization, discrimination, victimization and social exclusion as mental health challenges. The stigmatization, discrimination and violence that 2S/LGBTQIA+ individuals suffer during their lifetime related to their sexual and gender minority status undeniably affect their mental health status. Distress and dysfunction (family, social, work or scholastic) were strongly predicted in transgender individuals who experienced social rejection and violence. Stigma is defined as ‘the co-occurrence of labeling, stereotyping, separation, status loss, and discrimination in a context in which power is exercised’. Stigma presents itself in different ways. Overtly expressed, enacted stigma takes the form of explicit behaviors, such as labelling, discrimination, and violence, targeting people because of their perceived gender nonconformity. Covert stigmatization includes policy statements that used stigmatizing terminology and perpetuated anti- 2SLGBTQIA+ prejudice in society. Stigma restricts health access to 2S/LGBTQIA+ individuals, be it structural stigma based on institutional processes or felt stigma based on an internal awareness that the potential for stigma exists in a specific situation.

Barriers to mental healthcare services as a mental health challenge. How barriers to accessing mental healthcare services contributed to unmet healthcare needs amongst 2S/LGBTQIA+ people. The mental health disparities that 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals suffer are explained by differences in social factors, discrimination, lower levels of social support and systemic exclusion from healthcare services. Mental healthcare providers highlighted low practitioner knowledge of 2S/LGBTQIA+ issues and the stereotyping of 2S/LGBTQIA+ clients as barriers. The 2S/LGBTQIA+ individuals experience subtle ways of stigma and discrimination, such as being overlooked (‘not having a voice’) and being stereotyped during a consultation.

At La Ventana we provide the ‘Affirming Therapists’ (a therapist sensitive, affirming, inclusive and compassionate towards 2S/LGBTQIA+ issues).

At La Ventana Treatment Programs we acknowledge that it is important to recognize that sexual identity is fluid and can change over time for individuals. Additionally, everyone’s experience of their sexual identity is unique, and it’s essential to respect and affirm each person’s self-identified orientation.

Accreditations & Memberships

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