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How Therapy Can Help With the Coming Out Process

Susan Halsey - Writer for Top10
The listings featured on this site are from companies from which this site receives compensation. This influences where, how and in what order such listings appear on this site.
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Coming out is a complex and deeply personal decision. As a licensed clinical psychologist, I'm here to guide you through this profound odyssey toward living authentically.

If you're thinking of coming out, you may be experiencing a mix of emotions like anxiety, fear, excitement, and hope. It can be overwhelming, so you need to take your time to understand and embrace these feelings.

Online counseling services offer a supportive space where you can develop coping skills to manage emotional challenges and navigate personal transitions. Join me as we explore how therapy can help with the coming-out process.

» Not sure if virtual counseling is for you? Find out how online therapy works.

Complexities and Challenges of Coming Out

Interestingly, 92% of LGBTQIA+ adults say that society has grown more accepting of them over the last ten years.

Still, some people may face social rejection, criticism, violence, disapproval, shock, and breaches of confidentiality when coming out. Such reactions can cause lasting harm, including depression and suicidal thoughts.

In response, individuals may turn to or continue substance use to cope with various emotions and reactions from family and peers. They may also use drugs and alcohol to show or suppress same-sex desires or gender expression.

Additionally, increased levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts are common as people navigate the challenges of coming out or transitioning.

However, coming out and transitioning can also be a time of liberation, joy, and excitement. As you grow more accepting of yourself, you may find a decrease in depression and anxiety and a reduced tendency to abuse drugs or alcohol.

a woman standing on a balcony next to a building

How Can Online Therapists Help?

Therapists provide support, address unhelpful thoughts, and assist with emotional regulation. They can help you recognize substance abuse tendencies and find healthier ways to manage stress and emotions. You may also discover different ways to boost mental health.

Additionally, speaking to a clinician gives you the opportunity to experience an encouraging relationship during the coming out process. They can guide you toward acceptance and resilience while showing you how to stay true to yourself. Here's how they can support you through your coming out process:

  • Creating your safe haven: Your therapists will provide a secure and supportive space where you can feel emotionally backed and understood.
  • Role play: Together, you may practice how to have conversations with different people in your life, preparing you for various scenarios you could face while coming out.
  • Risk assessment: You need to consider the safety of your environment when coming out. Your clinician will help you think about the best timing, whether it's after college, once you're established in a job, or before a big family event.
  • Building resilience and coping: They'll work with you to develop coping strategies in case you face negative reactions.
  • Support network development: Feeling connected to a community can greatly enhance your resilience. Your clinician can guide you in building this network.
  • Boosting self-esteem and body image: If body image is a concern for you, they may use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques to help improve your body positivity or neutrality.
  • Health education: You may receive resources and education tailored to LGBTQIA+ health, especially in areas like HIV and AIDS.
An LGBTQIA+ couple talking to a therapist about coming out.

Why Seek Therapy While Coming Out?

The Cass "coming out" model for lesbian and gay individuals outlines six stages with unique challenges and opportunities for growth.

Here's how therapy can support you in each of these phases:

  • Identity confusion: If you're questioning your sexual orientation or gender identity, therapy offers a non-judgmental space to explore these uncertainties.
  • Identity comparison: You may feel isolated. Therapy can help you cope with this emotional state and provide support as you consider how your identity fits with societal norms.
  • Identity tolerance: As you grow more accepting of who you are, counseling can assist in resolving internal conflicts and building a supportive network.
  • Identity acceptance: When you start accepting your identity more fully, a therapist can help address any remaining doubts or fears.
  • Identity pride: Once you're completely out, therapy can assist you in establishing a positive self-image and dealing with external challenges.
  • Identity synthesis: Soon, you'll discover that your LGBTQIA+ identity is an integral part of who you are. A counselor can aid in integrating this essence into your overall sense of self.

In a supportive and safe therapeutic space, you can learn more about what to expect as you come out. It's a place where you can weigh the pros and cons, make informed decisions, find support, and get better at handling any uncomfortable feelings that may arise during this transition.

» Weigh the pros and cons of online vs face-to-face therapy.

Accessibility of Online Therapy

Most online therapy platforms offer confidentiality, accessibility, and comfort. With strict adherence to privacy laws, these platforms keep your information confidential and let you stay anonymous, making it easier to start therapy.

The digital nature of online therapy also removes geographical barriers, allowing you to choose therapists from anywhere. This is convenient because you can have sessions from home or any place you're comfortable, which is ideal if you're busy or live far from a therapist's office.

Additionally, it's often more cost-effective than traditional therapy, as platforms like Calmerry eliminate travel costs and reduce overhead expenses for clinicians.

» Is virtual counseling affordable? Find out how much online therapy costs.

Advice for Choosing an Online Therapy Platform

Start by researching online clinicians to find someone who may be a suitable match for you. If you know anyone who's tried therapy, talk to them about their experience.

Remember, online therapy can sometimes lead to misunderstandings due to the lack of body language cues and eye contact. So, make sure to openly discuss any potential communication issues with your therapist.

If at any point you feel like your clinician doesn't understand you, let them know. It's a good practice in any professional relationship. But give the process some time, ideally at least three sessions, to see if you and your counselor are compatible. If it doesn't seem to be the right fit, find someone else.

A woman talking to an online therapist about the coming out process.

Embrace Your True Self Through Online Therapy

During the process of coming out, therapy offers invaluable support and tools to aid you in understanding and dealing with the challenges you may face. It's a partnership that helps build resilience, acceptance, and emotional well-being.

Additionally, platforms like Pride Counseling enable you to embrace your true self. They can also show you effective strategies to handle stress and ways to maintain mental health.

» Ready to try online therapy? Check out our best counseling services for the LGBTQ+ community.

Susan Halsey - Writer for Top10
With 20+ years of experience as a licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Susan Halsey specializes in anxiety, mood disorders, ADHD, relationships, and sports psychology. She's a certified soccer coach and champions mental wellness through exercise and support networks.

The author of this article has been paid by Natural Intelligence to write this article. Neither the author nor Natural Intelligence provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or your local emergency number immediately.