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Tuesday, 10 May 2011 20:00

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered Issues

Gay Emotional Trauma Gay Emotional Trauma

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered Issues
by Michael Cooter, MSSW, LCSW

Imagine growing up in a world where your identity is always, if not frequently, being challenged due to external reality. Your external perceptions are profoundly incongruent with your internal experience. The GLBT individual, for instance, sees the world as predominately heterosexual: opposite-sex partners, rituals celebrating these relationships, and their related paths to validation.

Transgendered individuals' internal perceptions regarding their own gender do not match others' perceptions of them. To survive, one engages in fantasy, compartmentalization, hypervigilence, and other adaptations to navigate daily existence. This is a common experience among many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals.

This need to conceal, hide, and withhold the authentic self leads to a significantly adapted response that psychologically manifests itself in a variety of secondary symptoms. These symptoms can best be identified using The Meadows' Model of treatment.
To portray oneself dishonestly leads to a disruption (trauma) in one's usual path of development. The Meadows' Model addresses the core issues associated with such a disruption: self-esteem, boundaries, reality, dependency, and moderation. GLBT individuals struggle with issues of self-esteem prior to, during, and after the coming-out process. Many who have internalized shaming and homophobic messages about their inherent value will attempt to cope with this "carried shame" by becoming perfectionistic, or "better than." Others have no sense of inherent worth and believe the messages that they are "less than," or not as good as their heterosexual counterparts. Both defenses result from growing up in a predominately heterosexual world.

Carried shame plays a powerful role in the development of dependency on mood-altering chemicals and the chronicity of mood disorders. For the GLBT client in particular, issues of carried shame must be identified and processed in order to reach a hopeful recovery. If such issues remain unaddressed, the patient is vulnerable to interactive addictions and relapse in primary addictions/mood disregulation.

At The Meadows, we teach and work with patients to identify and release the internalized shaming messages associated with sexual orientation and gender identification. We support and guide patients in releasing "carried shame" resulting from cultural, peer, and family experiences. We believe, embrace, and support all people in celebrating their inherent value.

Michael Cooter, MSSW, LCSW
Director, Strategic Relations
The Meadows

Michael has previous experience working with The Meadows. He previously worked as a primary therapist, workshop facilitator of Love Addiction/ Survivor's groups and co-facilitated PIT trainings with Pia Mellody. Michael has extensive experience working with individuals impacted by specific combat related trauma. This includes almost five years work with post deployment trauma working with the Department of Defense. He maintains a private practice in Phoenix working with individuals, partners, and families.

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