The sexual energy that pulses through all of us is a naturally occurring energy: it is sometimes considered to be the very life force that courses through our veins. Culturally – particularly in Britain – the topic of sex, sexual energy and sexuality has been subject to much taboo. A consequence of this is that many of us feel shameful or embarrassed about this aspect of our lives.
If you are troubled by a particular sexual dysfunction then you are probably wise to seek the support of a qualified sex therapist – which I am not. However, I can support you to work though any shame that you may be feeling about this aspect of your life i.e. your sexuality.
If your sexual feelings have been historically, socially and/or culturally classified as being divergent then I can support you through any struggles and/or difficulties that you may be feeling as a result of this.
Thanks to the courage and tenacity of earlier generations, people who identify as LGBTQ+ (at least in the UK) enjoy more social freedom, legal equality and political protection than at any other time in history. Yet at the same time, evidence suggests that mental health problems are widespread amongst LGBTQ+ individuals: levels of depression, alcoholism, substance abuse, sex addiction (or at least an unhealthy relationship with sex), body dysmorphia (a negative sense of how we look, or dissatisfaction with our body size – either too big or too small), career dissatisfaction, relationship problems and suicide are at an all time high. Something is clearly amiss: societal acceptance, it seems, is not translating into self acceptance.
Whilst there are likely to be multiple roots to any particular mental health problem I am interested in what Alan Downs writes in his book The Velvet Rage, related to the adolescent stage of development in gay men.
What is common in my life with many other gay men is that the normal development into emotional manhood that should have happened during the second decade of life often doesn’t happen until much later, if it happens and all. Many of us live in a delayed adolescence that persists for decades until we learn the critical skills that allow us to traverse the passages between adolescence and manhood. The traumatic effect of growing up in a world where we must hide the truth of our strongest feelings causes our development to stall. We aren’t able to have a normal adolescence where we experiment with who we are and receive the critical reflection of those around us to create a secure identity… For so many of us, the experience of truly coming out comes too late, and the impact on our identity formation is profound. We are left floundering, with undeveloped internal guides that, should they have been allowed to develop, would have guided us towards discovering our passion and a stronger sense of ourselves.
Feeling that they have to hide their innermost feelings at what is such a crucial stage of their development, the authentic self of LGBTQ+ people often remains buried deep within as they develop into adulthood: avoidance of shame often becomes the single most important factor in their lives. Of course, hiding ones innermost feelings is not exclusive to LGBTQ+ people since all adolescents are likely to do this to some extent, and shame avoidance probably affects us all at various times of our lives. The difference for LGBTQ+ people is that historically, same sex attraction and gender divergence has been socially, culturally and politically vilified and even though the social, cultural and political climate may have changed somewhat, the legacy of such vilification still negatively impacts many LGBTQ+ people today because the damaging effect of such discrimination and misunderstanding has been somehow internalised.
I offer a safe and non-judgmental space for clients – LGBTQ+ clients, heterosexual clients and clients who are confused and/or not sure about their sexuality – to share as little or as much as they feel comfortable with. From time to time I also work with parents who are struggling with, and/or who have questions or concerns about the the sexuality of their loved ones. Working together, I support clients to understand what it is they are looking for from counselling, what they might need and what the best way forward for them might be.
If you have been struggling with any of the above problems or with any other difficulties that are not mentioned above, and you think I might be able to support you then please get in contact for a free no-obligation 10-15 minute chat.