Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people all face a very real and very prevalent social stigma. This population is frequently othered and has cause to feel unsafe and often times unwelcome in public spaces, many of which are not optional. Legislation around these specific issues has caused considerable public attention and controversy, and LGBT people have felt intense pressure on personal and public levels. Because of these unique and unfortunate stigmas and dangers, mental health providers, both clinicians and facilities, face a very unique challenge when working with LGBT populations.
For anyone in a treatment center to be able to thrive, a feeling of trust and safety must be nurtured within the milieu (group of clients). This is especially true of adolescent clients. Just as a client must be assisted in the removal of self-destructive coping mechanisms such as substance abuse, self-harm, process addictions, and other unhealthy actions in order to be in the right state of mind for psychotherapy to have an effect, adolescents must also be made to feel safe enough in their environments to participate. When it comes to LGBT populations, who are consistently trained to be wary of their environments and to expect threats from anywhere, building a sense of safety and trust within the treatment environment is absolutely essential to being able to have effective and lasting therapeutic intervention for any underlying mental health disorders or traumas.
In order to ensure this sense of safety, treatment center staff can and must do many things, some of which include:
- Recognition of the needs of LGBT clients and the implementation of policies which ensure that those needs are met.
- Professional inclusivity training of staff and also of the milieu at large.
- Setting of inclusive policies and procedures for the facility as a whole.
- Identification, acknowledgement, and remediation of any harassment or intolerance of anyone else undergoing treatment. Protecting the milieu as a whole is always of paramount importance.
- Acknowledgement and normalization of the emotional lives of LGBT clients.
Best practices require that the safety, dignity, and humanity of LGBT clients be preserved and perpetuated during the course of treatment. Resources are freely available from many professional, academic, and governmental sources, including the American Psychological Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and various Gay and Lesbian Centers.
At Ascend Healthcare, we are consistently supportive and inclusive of all of our clients, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender orientation, or any other identifiable factors. Each teenager who enters our facility presents a unique and important identity or sets of identities which we acknowledge and affirm. Our staff is as diverse as our clientele, and because of this, we foster a very inclusive and safe space for teenagers to continue to discover who they are as human beings while learning how to live in a healthy manner. Inclusivity is of paramount importance to us, as it should be to society as a whole. We support and empower our LGBT clients and their families while acknowledging the unique challenges that they face, but never alone. We are proud to be a diverse treatment program capable of helping anyone who comes through our door into our home, and theirs.