LGBT+ issues and hypnotherapy
If you have found your way to this article then the likelihood is you have some interest in LGBT+ issues and wonder how they relate to the practice of hypnotherapy. Or whether hypnotherapy is right for you.
As a hypnotherapist, I see people from all walks of life, straight, black, elderly, Sikh and LGBT+ people too. Put quite simply - anything that is an issue for a person is potentially an issue for hypnotherapy.
Coming out is essentially an acknowledgement of who we are. Coming out might simply be a personal and private acceptance of sexuality and difference. It might be timid and reluctant. Equally coming out can be loud, proud, public and defiant.
Whether we are lesbian, gay, bi, trans or something else - at some point in our lives we will have been aware of ways in which we differed from our parents, siblings or other people around us.
Let’s face it - who else gets to be born into a minority that (usually) isn’t shared with our parents? We might not at first like our difference, or we might enjoy it. It might scare us, or it might intrigue us. It might threaten our survival.
Whatever we feel about our identity is going to have an effect on the way we feel about ourselves, our self-worth, what we are entitled to, how we expect family, friends, employers, and society to respond to us.
Coming out is a big deal. A straight person is never going to have to worry they are going to be discriminated against, rejected, ridiculed, be bullied or made homeless, for the sexuality and identity that they didn’t choose. They will very rarely ever doubt their right to a place in the world as a straight person. LGBT+ people rarely experience that privilege.
Quite often when growing up LGBT+ we have to attempt to form a healthy balanced personality within a society that at the very least does not expect us, or at worst stigmatises us. How many parents wonder if the baby in the womb will be LGBT+? Very few. Most will be satisfied with the baby having the correct number of everything and assume the baby will be like them.
Where there aren’t positive LGBT+ role models acceptable to one's family or carers, or within one’s school or faith community, it can be difficult for us to question, query, wonder who we might be, who we might become. It is difficult to frame questions. It can be very difficult to try out an LGBT+ identity to see how it fits us.
If the circumstances and environment are not optimum - and they rarely are for anybody - then personal development can begin to go awry, and negative images, messages, and teachings can be absorbed in a way that is unhelpful or damaging - leading to uncertainty, self-doubt, anxiety, shame, guilt fear and self-hate. This, in turn, can become serious mental anguish in the form say of depression, or at worst suicide.
By the way, if you are reading this and have been experiencing feelings of suicide it is of paramount importance that you speak to your GP as a matter of emergency, take yourself to A&E or call the Samaritans on 116 123 - to get help immediately is your first priority.
So mental health is a big issue for LGBT+ people. The National LGBT Survey showed that around 24% of LGBT people have accessed NHS mental health services whilst nearly a third reported they had tried but had been unsuccessful.
This means there are a lot of us out there who are suffering.
Those negative images, messages and teachings that I mentioned can lie unconscious, but still active, in our psyche, waiting to be outgrown. Hypnotherapy can help you outgrow the outmoded messages, the lessons never meant for you. With hypnotherapy, you can install your own upgrade, in a sense determine your own operating system (within limits of course).
Coming out is important
Whether you are out to everyone or just to a few is entirely a matter for you and indeed might be a matter of survival! That you do come out to yourself is essential. Appearing to be one way to others - for whatever reason is one thing, but denying who you are to yourself is fundamentally damaging.
Denying who you are to yourself is damaging. I’ve repeated that because it is important. You only have one life, and with a bit of luck, you have only one rich and multi-faceted personality. Any more than that tends to complicate matters. Since you have only one life, failure to live your life true to yourself is to live in failure.
If you have to keep yourself hidden you know the reason, and you know that if circumstances change - or when you are strong enough to change then you won’t need to hide any more. That insight can give you strength. But if you repeatedly avoid acknowledging who you are then you are living a half-life. A life lived in the darkness before dawn.
Finding the right therapist to help you can make a huge difference. An LGBT+ friendly hypnotherapist can help you move from the darkness before dawn into the glory of the sunrise.
What sort of obstacles are there?
Acceptance is one. This is often the first step to being a happy and healthy LGBT+ person - accepting who you are, what makes you different.
Shame is a feeling about who you are at an essential level, and it can range from the healthy sort of shame that stops you doing appalling things, to the paralysing shame that stops you from living your life and form being the person you were born to be.
Feelings of guilt can eat you up and make you feel beyond awful about your thoughts and feelings, the people you like, the places you want to go. Guilt can haunt you and dog you.
Low self-worth will affect every area of your life, from the type of car you chose, the sorts of job you apply for, the people you choose as friends, the treatment you allow from others to the way in which you care for your health.
Anxiety can make you afraid to be seen, to be heard, to be out, to be in. Anxiety can stop you from making contact with other LGBT+ people, or from being open about who you are and what you want or need with non-LGBT+ people. Ignorance - just because you are somewhere on the LGBT+ spectrum doesn’t make you an expert in gay women’s rights. And you don’t need to be.
A good LGBT+ hypnotherapist can provide the setting in which you bring your issues, concerns doubts and goals without the necessity of hiding, without the irritating need to keep explaining yourself, and without the fear of judgment.
Hypnotherapy doesn’t see your face or your clothes and criticise. It doesn’t know whether you are masc or femme. It doesn’t judge your gender, or who you want to sleep with, and love.
But what hypnotherapy can do is help you address all the issues that might be preventing you from being true, being happy being you.
Sometimes hypnotherapy might require deep trance states and regression. Sometimes it might involve simply closing your eyes and using your imagination. Often you can confront in safety terrible past events, or fears about the future and work through these things with someone who cares, understands and is trained to help you find your way to being the person you need to be. Often hypnotherapy sessions can be a great deal of fun, with laughter and insight.
Too often we can feel that life is something that happens to us, that we are somehow victims, that life is done to us.
The aim of good hypnotherapy is to put us back into control, to make us both the leading character and author of the unfolding chapters of our lives.
For LGBT+ people that begins with coming out. And hypnotherapy can help you with that!
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