In the spirit of Pride month, I want to talk about how a clinician can put the work of deconstructing heterosexism (from Part 1) into practice. Dr.’s McGeorge and Carlson give specific recommendations for clinicians wanting to more effectively serve the LGBTQ community after self-of-the-heterosexual work begins (I’m not sure it ever ends).
Personally, I like when clinicians talk about their role in the community as also taking place outside of the therapy room. McGeorge and Carlson seem to understand this very well. I hope the following recommendations are as helpful to you as they have been for me. McGeorge and Carlson have a lot to offer on this topic and I highly recommend getting a hold of this article.
For a brief re-cap: The individual work discussed in this article identified the following:
Exploring heteronormative assumptions
Exploring heterosexual privilege
Exploring the development of a heterosexual identity
As I have reflected on my own ongoing deconstruction of heterosexism, I have found that my fears of “what others will think” have lessened. I can look back and remember concern for what families, friends, and religious organizations I was affiliated with would think. Would I lose friends? Be ostracized from certain communities? Or be seen as less than by family members? I am sure there is more to this process. But from what I can tell, as I became more aware of heterosexuality in myself and in society, I started to see the very tangible ways that this dominant story of heterosexuality hurt people. The desire to help then became greater than what I feared would happen. McGeorge and Carlson identify specific steps clinicians can take as they make their way down the road of heterosexist deconstruction.
“Claiming an identity as an LGB affirmative therapist.”
a. Ongoing identification of heterosexist assumptions
b. Acceptance of the dual identities of heterosexist and anti-heterosexist
c. “Coming out” as LGB affirmative therapist can be political and personal
i. Sharing with family and friends
ii. Avoiding heteronormative language
iii. Continue education of marginalized identities