Expertise in Coming Out
June 2013: This post has been substantially updated here: http://chelseatherapy.com/2013/06/09/coming-out/
Coming out is usually not a single day marked in red on the calendar. It’s a process that unfolds over time, involving multiple changes in how you relate to yourself, other people, and the world around you.
Each individual’s coming out story is unique, and therapy may help you author that story in ways that feel most authentic and comfortable to you.
Our work together may help you identify barriers to coming out, develop a plan to overcome such barriers, and feel supported and understood as you follow through with carrying out your plan.
Such work is typically multifaceted:
- Coming out to yourself. Your personal history of exposure to gay cultures and attitudes toward being gay may play a major role in your ability to feel comfortable with a gay identity. Just about everyone has encountered some form of homophobia in one’s family, school, community, and so forth, and such negative attitudes can have a profound effect on your feelings about yourself. Therapy may help you confront negative feelings and replace them with more positive thoughts, feelings, and attitudes about being gay, thus helping you to develop self-esteem in relation to your identity.
- Coming out to family. While some people come out to everyone in the family at the same time, others prefer to build a network of allies within the family that gradually encompasses the entire family system. Your family’s religious attitudes, politics, and general attitudes toward gay people may inform your feelings of safety with coming out. Therapy may help you gain the courage to come out while at the same time work on redefining relationships to family members. Ideally, this may bring you closer to your family because they may have the chance to really know you as whole person for the first time. Of course this does not always go as smoothly as one may hope. Therapy may help you navigate ‘emotional land mines’ among your family and emerge stronger.
- Coming out to friends and at work. It’s not uncommon to worry about losing friends or professional standing when coming out of the closet. Therapy may help you articulate such fears and evaluate to what degree they may be founded. Our work together may help you tailor your coming out process to your specific relationships and environments
- Joining gay communities. Coming out is not just about exiting a previous assumption of being straight. It’s also about entering a new chapter of your life. Ideally, you may ‘come in’ to a world of new relationships based on authenticity and self-esteem.
Our work together may help you navigate this new territory in ways that continue to increase your life satisfaction.
I welcome your call with any questions or to schedule an initial consultation.