This study will discuss how person-centered counseling can assist sexual minority adolescents in accommodating their sexual identity. Sexual minority adolescents are encountering stigmatization in their daily life while some of them are not capable of explaining why they are in that situation. A person-centered approach is fundamental in tackling the problem of sexual identity, as it does not generalize the problem. It has assisted the group in tackling their problems without fear of intimidation or victimization. The approach is capable of salvaging the youth from psychological trauma, depression, and even suicide. It evaluates each client’s behaviors depending on their personal situations, rather than their collective circumstances. Counselors are expected to alert their clients on risks involved in disclosing their sexual identity, as well as involve the youth in community events during the counseling. Although person-centered counseling has not been beneficial in the later phases of sexual identity growth, it has assisted the youth in their adolescent stage.
Sexual identity involves the degree to which an individual discovers the social and biological features of his or her gender. One of the fundamental aspects of sexual identity is sexual orientation. Sexual orientation drives an individual to the feeling of being sexually attracted to another individual of the opposite gender. Sexual minority adolescents are being stigmatized, hence making it hard for them to accept their sexual identity. Counseling facilitates self-understanding, recognition, and self-esteem. A person-centered approach in counseling will offer sexual minority adolescents a chance to express their feelings and undergo a process of disclosure. This study will offer a summary of the need to counsel sexual minority adolescents using a person-centered approach in an attempt to make them accept their sexual identity.
Applying Person-Centered Counseling to Sexual Minority Adolescents
By S. Jim Lemoire and Charles P. Chen
Individuals’ sexuality is shaped by societal, historical, and personal circumstances, which fall in line with societal expectations. However, some sexual orientations are facing isolation, as they seem to go out of societal expectations. Sexual minority adolescents encounter stigmatization due to their unique needs. According to Lemoire and Chen (2005), this group includes lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) adolescents, who are fighting to accept their sexual identity (p. 146). In this article, the authors are trying to investigate how the personal-centered counseling method can be applied to neutralize stigmatization among these groups of adolescents. This system has both strengths and weaknesses, and the main aim of this study is to investigate why it is essential to adopt this approach.
LGBT adolescents are generalized, but they exist in different stages, with different levels of sexual identity. Some are in the crucial stage of questioning why they behave quite contrary to straight people. LGBT people represent about 10 percent of the world’s population, thus, they should not be ignored in society. According to the personal-centered approach, sexual identity is categorized into different stages, which assist the counselors in predicting, expressing, and normalizing common experiences that manage stigmatization. Cass (1986) developed a model that proved that a homosexual orientation undergoes six stages, which include identity confusion, identity comparison, identity tolerance, identity acceptance, identity pride, and identity synthesis (Lemoire & Chen, 2005, p. 147). Although many LGBT adolescents undergo these stages, the sexual identity process does not have an end-point.
Person-centered counseling has been extremely effective in tackling the psychological distress that LGBT adolescents undergo during sexual orientation confession. Adolescents who find themselves outside the brackets of heterosexuals usually develop a fear of socializing and, in most cases, find themselves isolated in society. They also face the risks of being humiliated and victimized. If they experience a negative feeling during their disclosure, the fear of rejection is magnified. Counselors should adopt the victim’s point of view since sexual orientation disclosure is not generalized. Each victim’s behaviors are evaluated within his/her particular context. Self-concept is crucial in developing self-esteem while person-centered counseling can assist in self-exploration. Counselors should assist LGBT adolescents to change their locus of evaluation from the external view to the internal focus so that they can facilitate their self-esteem. Counseling offers the client reinforcement to personal growth. The clients should be allowed to decide on matters to be discussed, as they know what to prioritize. They should also be allowed to move at their own speed.
One of the weaknesses of the person-centered approach is that it fails to cater to the requirement of LGBT adolescents in their later stages of sexual identity growth. The approach should allow the clients to express their feelings as well as validate those feelings in order to avoid suicide and depression. The counselor should warn the clients of risks involved in unveiling their sexual orientations, as disclosing such information may amount to both positive and negative results. Thus, the counselor should develop the remedial scope to incorporate specific risks concerning the admission. Counseling LGBT adolescents without involving them in the youth support groups or events will not be enough in addressing their needs in the later stages of sexual identity. Stigmatized groups encounter a barrier towards developing into healthy adults due to low self-esteem. LGBT adolescents need to develop social skills, and this can be achieved through developing a sense of community, in addition to interacting with other adolescents who always question their sexual identity.
Counselors have a fundamental role to play in facilitating sexual identity within sexual minority adolescents. Many countries are becoming tolerant of the multiplicity of sexual orientations; thus, LGBT adolescents should not be stigmatized in any way. The personal-centered approach should be made flexible and open to accommodate the needs of these groups. Counselors should permit the clients to decide on matters of their priority so that they can be assisted in handling serious issues first. Sexual orientation can only work efficiently where community services are involved. LGBT adolescents cannot improve their sexual identity in full if they do not comprehend what it means to be what they are. Counseling can help sexual minority adolescents to develop social skills that can assist in improving their sexual identity.
Lemoire, S., & Chen, C. P. (2005). Applying Person-Centered Counseling to Sexual Minority Adolescents. Journal Of Counseling & Development, 83(2), 146-154.