Episode Introduction

Y’all know that life can be rough. Grief and death. Marriage and divorce. Relationships, love, belonging, and breakups. Life throws us so many hurdles to jump over and challenges to crawl through. Jamie, one of iAmClinic’s Associates sits with our guest who approaches life with such humor, ease, and joy that it makes life seem a little bit easier, something not to be taken with such seriousness. They bring a lifespan of insight and challenges that I hope you enjoy listening to and learning from couples therapy

I’m so thankful that we have queer siblings who have gone before us to literally pave the way for our version of love, our version of sex, our social equality, and our civil rights. It is with deep gratitude that we sat with our guest because he is one who has fought so hard for what we so easily access.

Navigating Ambivalence in Relationships: A Personal Journey

Navigating relationships can be a complex and emotionally charged journey, especially when you find yourself in a state of ambivalence. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the intricate world of emotions, desires, and personal growth through the lens of one individual’s experience. Join us as we explore the challenges and insights of managing ambivalence in relationships.

Understanding Ambivalence:

Ambivalence is a state of mixed emotions and conflicting desires. It often arises when we have strong feelings for someone but are uncertain about the direction of the relationship. It’s like standing at a crossroads, torn between two paths—one leading to commitment and the other to individual freedom.

The Personal Journey:

Our story begins with a gentleman in his late 60s who has experienced a lifetime of relationships, each offering unique gifts and challenges. He has been married, had children, and even become a grandparent, but his current journey revolves around the complexities of a relationship with a much younger partner.

1. Craving Emotional Monogamy:

Our protagonist yearns for emotional monogamy, a deep and exclusive connection where he can be the sole focus of his partner’s affection. It’s a desire rooted in the need for security, emotional attachment, and the joy of settling into a committed partnership.

2. Fear of Being Alone:

Despite his desire for emotional monogamy, he grapples with a deep-seated fear of being alone. After two years of closeness with his current partner, the thought of separation is daunting. This fear drives him to question whether he’s enough and whether he’ll find someone else who truly values him.

3. The Push-Pull of Ambivalence:

The relationship he’s in has evolved into a constant push-pull dynamic. Both partners have clear desires and conflicting needs. While he yearns for emotional exclusivity, his partner seeks multiple emotional connections. This tug-of-war between their desires creates an addictive cycle that’s challenging to break.

4. Open Communication:

Despite the emotional rollercoaster, the couple engages in open and honest communication. They discuss their desires, insecurities, and fears regularly, creating a space for vulnerability. Sharing their thoughts and feelings is a cornerstone of their relationship.

5. The Path Ahead:

As they stand at this crossroads, uncertain of the future, they have embarked on a week of space to reflect on their needs and desires. This pivotal moment will determine the direction of their relationship.

Conclusion:

The journey through ambivalence in relationships is a profound exploration of one’s desires, fears, and values. It’s a testament to the complexities of human connection and personal growth. This story reminds us that relationships are ever-evolving, and it’s okay to seek the emotional monogamy or the individual freedom that aligns with our personal needs.

As we navigate the intricacies of our own relationships, we can draw inspiration from this narrative of vulnerability, open communication, and the pursuit of emotional fulfillment. After all, it’s our unique journeys that shape our understanding of love, commitment, and the human experience.

Episode Links

Tale of Two Tims: Big Ol’ Baptist, Big Ol’ Gay, by Tim Seelig

The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work, by Terrence Real (5 Domains of Intimacy)

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Navigating Queer Relationships: Finding Love Beyond the Grindr Grid

Queer relationships are a beautiful and essential part of the LGBTQ+ community. As the world becomes more inclusive and accepting, the search for love and meaningful connections within the queer community has evolved. In this blog, we’ll delve into the multifaceted world of queer relationships, from the challenges posed by hookup culture to the journey of self-discovery and the search for genuine emotional intimacy. Let’s explore the nuances of queer love and how to build lasting connections.

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The Allure and Pitfalls of Hookup Culture

   – Discuss the prevalence of hookup apps and their impact on queer relationships.

   – Share personal anecdotes or statistics highlighting the ubiquity of casual encounters.

   – Examine the emotional toll of hookup culture, such as feelings of loneliness and emptiness.

The Longing for Connection

   – Explore the emotional deprivation experienced by many queer individuals during their formative years.

   – Discuss how the need for connection and belonging drives people to seek intimacy.

   – Highlight the distinction between emotional and sexual intimacy.

Emotional Intimacy vs. Sexual Intimacy

   – Define emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy and their roles in relationships.

   – Share stories or examples that illustrate the difference between the two.

   – Explain how emotional intimacy can enhance sexual experiences and vice versa.

The Value Hunt: Seeking Validation

   – Discuss the concept of the “value hunt” where individuals seek validation through sexual encounters.

   – Explain how constant validation-seeking can impact self-esteem and self-worth.

   – Share insights on breaking free from the cycle of seeking external validation.

The Fear of Relational Safety

   – Explore the idea that relational safety can feel threatening to some individuals.

   – Discuss the fear of settling down and the desire to keep searching for the “perfect” partner.

   – Share personal experiences or stories of people who have struggled with this fear.

Developing Relationship Skills

   – Emphasize the importance of developing skills for meaningful relationships.

   – Discuss communication, conflict resolution, and trust-building as crucial components.

   – Provide practical tips on cultivating these skills in queer relationships.

Miami’s Unique Dating Landscape

   – Spotlight the dating scene in Miami, known for its diversity and open-mindedness.

   – Share stories or experiences that reflect the challenges and opportunities for queer relationships in the city.

   – Discuss how the Miami dating scene aligns with or differs from broader trends in queer relationships.

Conclusion: Building Lasting Queer Connections

   – Summarize key takeaways from the blog.

   – Encourage readers to prioritize emotional intimacy and self-discovery in their quest for meaningful queer relationships.

   – Share resources or further reading for those interested in exploring the topic further.

In a world where love knows no boundaries, the journey to find genuine connections within the queer community is a beautiful and transformative experience. By recognizing the pitfalls of hookup culture, seeking emotional intimacy, and developing essential relationship skills, individuals can navigate the complex terrain of queer relationships with authenticity, love, and resilience.

Episode Description

In today’s episode we sit with TikTok’s JerBear to explore what it is about sex and hook ups that can create internal strife, feeling used and abused. His experience has left him with a life changing shift, revealing happiness and self-confidence as a gay man, living out and proud. Many will resonate with his words and maybe even be inspired to make shifts in their own sex life, if need be. 

You can find JerBear on TikTok and Instagram @jerbearmia

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Table Of Contents

Episode Summary

Host Isaac Archuleta sits with the founder, owner, and lead singer of Everyday Sunday. They consider how his religious beliefs affected his choices growing into adulthood and the eventual ending of his marriage. They also explore what it means to have a sexual orientation, how it affects all parts of one’s life, and how an oppressive religious background can significantly harm someone.

For information about how to become a guest, visit us at iAmClinic.org.

Embracing Authentic Love: A Journey of

Self-Discovery and Healing With Trey Pearson

The journey towards self-acceptance and embracing one’s true identity can be filled with challenges and triumphs. For Isaac Archuleta, founder and CEO of IAm Clinic, and Trey Pearson, former lead singer of the Christian rock band Everyday Sunday, this journey took them through uncharted territories of their sexual orientation. Isaac, as a psychotherapist, understands the intricacies of human emotions, while Trey’s personal experience of coming out as gay after years of hiding it resonates with countless individuals worldwide. In this heartfelt and honest conversation, they delve into the process of self-discovery, love, and the impacts of oppressive religious beliefs on the LGBTQ+ community.

The Weight of Repression

Trey shares his experience growing up in an evangelical world, feeling forced to suppress his feelings towards men due to deeply ingrained beliefs that being gay was a choice and an abomination to God. This internal struggle left him feeling isolated and unable to experience genuine love, which affected his relationships and marriage. The weight of not understanding what love was supposed to feel like with women was profound, leaving him feeling broken and hopeless.

In a world where diversity should be celebrated, Trey’s story highlights the damaging impact of repressive ideologies on individual lives. He endured years of self-denial, fearing the consequences of acknowledging his true self. The pain of living inauthentically took a toll on his mental and emotional well-being, leaving scars that took time to heal.

A Journey of Acceptance

After many years of suppressing his true self, Trey finally allowed himself to experience love without guilt or shame. His self-acceptance opened a new world of emotions and experiences he had longed for but never allowed himself to explore. This newfound freedom led him to understand that sexual orientation is not just about physical pleasure but the mechanism that guides one towards life-changing love.

With a genuine commitment to understanding himself better, Trey embarked on a journey of self-discovery. He found the courage to embrace his true identity, acknowledging that his sexual orientation was an essential part of who he is. This realization was pivotal, as it empowered him to accept and love himself wholly and unconditionally.

Reconstructing Shame

Isaac discusses the harmful effects of oppressive religious beliefs on the LGBTQ+ community and how sexual orientation is often misunderstood and misrepresented. The clash between the idea of God being love and the unwillingness of some religious groups to accept love in its fullest spectrum is explored.

It is crucial to recognize that religious beliefs should not be used as weapons to shame or marginalize individuals. Love, in its purest form, transcends the boundaries of gender and orientation. As Isaac and Trey advocate, authentic love is unconditional, free from judgment, and accepts people for who they genuinely are.

They shed light on the importance of embracing authenticity and deconstructing shame, which can profoundly affect not only the individual but also their relationships and family dynamics. Many LGBTQ+ individuals face rejection from their families, leading to fractured relationships and emotional distress. By challenging the underlying prejudices and fostering an environment of acceptance, we can begin to heal the wounds inflicted on these individuals.

Love Beyond Borders

Trey’s experience of coming out and embracing his true self has led him to explore the depths of love in various relationships. He shares how love goes beyond the confines of a heterosexual marriage and that healthy, authentic love is not about fulfilling societal expectations but rather being true to oneself and honoring others’ authentic selves.

By embracing his true identity, Trey found the courage to build meaningful connections with others. He discovered that love knows no boundaries and can exist between two people, regardless of their gender. In essence, he realized that love, at its core, is about understanding, compassion, and a genuine connection between individuals.

The Power of Vulnerability

Embracing vulnerability has become an essential aspect of Trey’s journey. Through his music and platform, he shares his story to inspire and support others who might be going through similar experiences. The power of vulnerability is emphasized, as it enables individuals to connect on a deeper level and foster a sense of community and understanding.

Sharing one’s vulnerabilities can be frightening, but it also creates a space for others to feel seen and heard. It allows individuals to connect with their shared struggles, triumphs, and aspirations, fostering a sense of unity and empathy. Through vulnerability, Trey has connected with countless individuals who have found solace and support in his journey.

anchor-Transformative Effects

As Trey reflects on the impact of his coming out journey, he highlights how it transformed his art and creativity. Embracing his true self allowed him to tap into his creative potential and share his experiences through his music. This newfound authenticity has resonated with his audience, creating a positive ripple effect and empowering others to embrace their truth.

When individuals are given the freedom to be authentic, their creativity flourishes, and they can contribute to the world in unique and meaningful ways. Trey’s journey exemplifies the power of authenticity in creating transformative effects not only for oneself but also for those around them.

Healing and Empowerment

Both Isaac and Trey share their commitment to empowering others on their journeys of self-discovery and healing. Trey’s work extends beyond music, as he hosts retreats and provides a safe space for individuals struggling with their sexual orientation. He has witnessed the transformative effects of providing support and encouragement, creating a network of people striving to be their most authentic selves.

Through their experiences, Isaac and Trey have become advocates for mental health, LGBTQ+ rights, and the power of self-acceptance. Their work is a testament to the healing power of authentic love and the impact it can have on individuals and communities.

Conclusion

The journey of self-acceptance and embracing one’s true identity can be challenging, yet ultimately liberating. Through the candid conversation between Isaac and Trey, we witness the power of vulnerability, the healing effects of love, and the transformation that occurs when one chooses to live authentically. Their stories serve as beacons of hope for those still navigating their paths to self-discovery, reminding us that love is indeed love in all its forms.

By embracing our true selves and fostering an environment of acceptance, we can create a world where everyone can love and be loved without fear or shame. It is essential to challenge oppressive beliefs and embrace the diversity of human experience. Together, we can build a more inclusive and compassionate society, where authentic love can thrive, and every individual can live their truth with pride.

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Table Of Contents

Episode Summary

Host Isaac Archuleta and Matthias Roberts, counselor and podcast host of Queerology, talk about Roberts’ new book, Beyond Shame: Creating a Healthy Sex Life on Your Own Terms. They consider the shame that results from purity culture and ask questions one can consider in evaluating the presence of shame in one’s own life.

For information about how to become a guest, visit us at iAmClinic.org.

Beyond Shame: Creating a Healthy Sexual Ethic on Your Own Terms With Matthias Roberts

Shame is a powerful and complex emotion that affects many aspects of our lives, including our sexuality. For those who grew up in more conservative or evangelical Christian environments, shame around sex can be particularly intense and pervasive. The messages we received about sex and purity culture can leave deep scars, leading us to struggle with sexual shame even in our adult lives. But what if there’s a way to move beyond shame and create a healthy sexual ethic that aligns with our values and desires?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the concept of shame and its impact on our sexuality, dive into the work of Matthias Roberts, a counselor and author of the book “Beyond Shame: Creating a Healthy Sex Life on Your Own Terms,” and examine the paradoxes of a healthy sexual ethic. We’ll learn how to recognize shame, embrace vulnerability, and build a thriving sex life that aligns with our true selves.

The Impact of Shame on Sexuality

Shame is an emotion that can make us want to hide or turn away from ourselves. When shame intertwines with our sexuality, it can lead to shamefulness, where we try to control our sexuality to avoid feeling shameful. This coping mechanism can be a way to medicate shame temporarily, but it doesn’t address the underlying issues.

Queer Perspectives on Sexual Shame

For those within the queer community, sexual shame can take on unique dimensions. Growing up with messages that label same-sex attractions as sinful or impure can deeply impact one’s relationship with their sexuality. The struggle to reconcile religious beliefs with sexual orientation often leads to internal conflicts and emotional distress.

Beyond Shame: Matthias Roberts’ New Book

Matthias Roberts, a counselor from Washington state and host of the podcast “Queerology,” has written a groundbreaking book titled “Beyond Shame: Creating a Healthy Sex Life on Your Own Terms.” In this book, he addresses the sexual shame many experience within the context of purity culture and conservative religious backgrounds. The book offers insights and tools to navigate sexual shame and construct a healthier sexual ethic moving forward.

Unpacking the Book’s Purpose

The central focus of “Beyond Shame” is to explore how we can work with the sexual shame we’ve inherited and dismantle the lies around sex and sexuality. It encourages readers to build a more expansive and grounded sexual ethic that aligns with their authentic selves.

Pre-Order Bonuses

For those who pre-order the book, Matthias Roberts offers exciting bonuses, including a master class with Linda K. Klein, author of “Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free.” The book club launch and other valuable resources further enhance the reader’s experience.

Recognizing Shame in Our Lives

As a clinician, Matthias Roberts acknowledges that many people might not even realize they are operating from a place of shame. They may feel hungry for connection and affirmation but struggle with pseudo confidence in their sexual behaviors. Identifying and understanding shame in the day-to-day life of a queer person is essential to begin the journey of healing.

Coping Mechanisms: Shamefulness, Shamelessness, and Autopilot

Roberts categorizes three coping mechanisms individuals use to navigate sexual shame: shamefulness, shamelessness, and autopilot. Shamefulness involves hiding or controlling sexuality to avoid shame, while shamelessness uses sexuality to escape underlying emotional work. Autopilot, on the other hand, represents a lack of awareness and conscious decision-making around sexual behaviors.

The Anatomy of a Healthy Sexual Ethic

Rather than prescribing a rigid set of rules for sexual ethics, Roberts believes in embracing paradoxes to navigate a healthy sexual ethic. Some of these paradoxes include recognizing that sex can be both healthy and risky and understanding how we can use sex to embrace vulnerability or avoid it.

Vulnerability as a Path to Healing

Embracing vulnerability and authenticity in our sexual experiences can be transformative. It allows us to shed the masks we wear and to show up just as we are, without shame or fear of rejection. By moving beyond shame and leaning into vulnerability, we create a space for meaningful connections and emotional intimacy.

A Call for Change and Transformation

Writing “Beyond Shame” was an emotional and challenging journey for Matthias Roberts. The book’s primary aim is to help individuals navigate sexual shame and build a healthier sexual ethic, particularly within the queer community. By sharing his vulnerability and insights, Roberts hopes to inspire others to take the path of healing and self-discovery.

Conclusion

Navigating sexual shame and constructing a healthy sexual ethic is a complex and deeply personal journey. Matthias Roberts’ book, “Beyond Shame: Creating a Healthy Sex Life on Your Own Terms,” offers a valuable resource for those seeking to move beyond shame and embrace their authentic sexual selves. By recognizing shame, embracing vulnerability, and leaning into paradoxes, we can build thriving and meaningful sexual experiences that align with our values and desires. Through awareness, self-compassion, and open dialogue, we can create a world where sexual shame no longer holds us back from living fulfilling and liberated lives.

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Episode Summary

Host Isaac Archuleta sits with a guest who brought a great conundrum to the show, one that many queer people face: how do we live as one integrated being? 

Being a queer person in a professional space, a spiritual person in a gay setting, or even a woman in a man-centered world, integrating all parts of who we are can be quiet the riddle, and the remedy might just surprise you.

Some of the episodes in our line up are what we call, RelationTips Q&A’s, a safe space for everyday folks to come on the show and talk with a therapist about a problem or topic they are struggling with.

These episodes are intended to highlight queer stories with the hope that others can relate and gain insight into their own journeys.

Guests on these episodes bring vulnerability into the space that allows for a deep, emotional exploration of areas that hit deeply for many queer folks.

For information about how to become a guest, visit us at iAmClinic.org.

Falling In Love With Authenticity: A Journey Towards Belonging and Home

In this modern world, where self-expression is encouraged and celebrated, it can be challenging to navigate the complexities of identity and belonging. For members of the LGBTQIA+ community, the journey towards authenticity can be particularly profound. In this blog, we delve into a heartwarming conversation from the “Queer Relation Tips” podcast, where a courageous individual shares their story of self-discovery, deconstruction, and integration.

The Quest for Integration

The podcast guest opens up about their journey towards integration—a process that began only two years ago. Prior to that, they lived a segmented life, suppressing different facets of themselves to fit societal expectations. Growing up in an evangelical church, the pressure to conform to a singular identity in Christ hindered their self-discovery, leaving them feeling disconnected and questioning their true self.

The early years of their life were colored by a constant inner struggle. They yearned to fit in, to be accepted by the community around them. However, in doing so, they had to hide essential parts of their identity, burying them deep within. The weight of this concealment only grew heavier with time, leading to anxiety, depression, and an overwhelming sense of loneliness.

Coming Out and Facing Judgment

One significant challenge for many LGBTQIA+ individuals is the process of coming out and facing judgment from others. The podcast guest shares their experiences of being questioned and criticized by people who knew them in their past roles, be it as a leader in church ministry or a participant in environmental activism. The feeling of being demeaned and belittled by those who reject their journey of self-discovery is a recurring source of frustration.

One of the most poignant moments in their story was their coming out to their family. After years of trying to suppress their true self, they finally mustered the courage to embrace their identity and share it with their loved ones. Unfortunately, the response they received was far from what they had hoped for. The revelation was met with shock, denial, and even hostility from some family members. The pain of rejection from those they cared about deeply left a lasting mark on their heart.

The Chameleon Effect

Over the years, the guest developed the skill of being a chameleon, expertly adapting to different environments. They realized that by wearing different masks, they could better fit into the mold expected of them by society. While this ability helped them survive, it also created a paradoxical struggle with identity and belonging. They long to show their true colors without the fear of rejection or judgment, but the imposter syndrome often holds them back.

The podcast guest describes the imposter syndrome as a haunting voice in the back of their mind, questioning the authenticity of their actions and emotions. The internal conflict is a result of years of conforming to societal norms, where their true self was suppressed to avoid conflict and discrimination. Breaking free from this self-doubt and fear of judgment is an ongoing battle, but they are determined to reclaim their authentic identity.

The Search for Home

One recurring theme throughout the conversation is the search for home—a sense of belonging, stability, and acceptance. While their partner embodies a strong sense of home and family, the guest feels adrift, relying on adaptation and chosen family to create a semblance of home. The concept of being rooted like a tree, standing tall and grounded, appeals to them, but the path towards such confidence seems elusive.

They share how they often find themselves wondering where they truly belong. The feeling of not belonging anywhere or to any particular community is overwhelming. It’s as if they are floating in an ocean of uncertainties, grasping for an anchor to hold them steady. This search for home isn’t just about a physical space; it is about embracing all the aspects of oneself and feeling accepted for who they truly are.

Vulnerability versus Boldness

As they explore the notions of vulnerability and boldness, the guest grapples with the idea of being naked and unashamed, exposing their true self without fear. They yearn to embrace vulnerability, but the pain of past rejection and the pressure to conform hold them back.

In the pursuit of authenticity, they’ve learned that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but rather an expression of strength. Vulnerability requires immense courage—the willingness to be open and honest about their journey, no matter how painful or uncertain it may be. It is about breaking down the walls they’ve built around themselves and allowing others to see the real person behind the masks.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

The conversation delves into the challenges of overcoming imposter syndrome—an internal struggle fueled by societal constructs and self-doubt. The guest reflects on the need to throw away the constraints imposed upon them and boldly step into their authentic self without fear of judgment or rejection.

They share some strategies they’ve learned to help combat imposter syndrome, including therapy, mindfulness practices, and surrounding themselves with supportive and accepting individuals. Additionally, engaging with the LGBTQIA+ community has been a source of strength and encouragement, as they find solace in knowing that others have faced similar challenges and emerged stronger.

Creating a Sense of Home

Finding home isn’t just about physical spaces; it is about embracing all the aspects of oneself and feeling accepted for who they truly are. The guest contemplates ways to create a sense of home within, allowing their roots to grow deeper, no longer fearing the winds of change.

One crucial aspect of creating a sense of home is self-compassion. The journey towards authenticity is not linear; it is filled with ups and downs, moments of doubt, and moments of triumph. Being kind to oneself during this process is essential, as it allows for growth and self-acceptance. Embracing their unique identity and acknowledging the strength it takes to navigate through life authentically fosters a sense of belonging within themselves.

Conclusion

The journey towards authenticity and belonging is a profound one, especially for LGBTQIA+ individuals who have faced judgment, rejection, and the pressure to conform. Embracing vulnerability and boldly asserting one’s true self can be challenging but is essential for finding a sense of home and belonging. Overcoming imposter syndrome and shedding societal constraints will allow the guest and others to confidently step into their true selves, celebrating their unique identity and finding a place where they can belong without fear.

Through this honest conversation, we are reminded of the importance of compassion, acceptance, and support in helping individuals embrace their authentic selves and find the place where they truly belong. The quest for integration and a sense of home is ongoing, but it is a journey well worth taking, as it leads to the discovery of a more authentic, resilient, and empowered self. Let us strive to create a world where everyone feels accepted and celebrated for who they truly are—a world where authenticity is not just embraced but celebrated.

Episode Debrief

Home is often a place where we create our identity. At first we color pictures outside the lines to show them off and have our caregivers and parents hang them on the fridge. As we grow, we parade around our skill sets and our personalities, all in the earnest hope of getting feedback from those around us. “Am I worth keeping,” we subtly ask ourselves in the subconscious corners of our awareness. 

Home is a place where we test  out our lovability. It becomes the place we leave to test and establish our place and lovability in the world, knowing home is a place we can return to. Well, for some of us.  

For some of us, we grow worried that who we are isn’t enough. We begin to worry and shape-shift as a way of ensuring our place in our own home, whether that be our physical home, our relational homes, or our professional one. We prioritize the safety that others provide more than the safety we can find in our own beings, our own essence. Instead of expressing our true personalities and identities, we promote the image we think others might want to see, the one we think will keep us attached to others.

We briefly touched on the concept of enmeshment (and we’ll get into that in the next episode), but enmeshment, especially as queer children in straight homes, is our bread and butter. Feasting on the nutrients of enmeshment, we feel compelled to hide ourselves in our closets, shut down our personalities, and show the world another version of who we are. We buy into our costumes too well, one day having no idea how to be our authentic selves in any circumstances. We walk around thinking that the shade of our relational chameleon is the truth of who we are. We’ll feel lost, lonely, reject-able, and angry at the world for the cost we had to pay to belong within it. 

In the next episode, the guest and I continue to dive into the subconscious to really tear down the layers that robbed her from knowing and experiencing home in her own body and context. Until then, I’d encourage you to examine any places you play a relational chameleon in your own life. Having some data points up to consciousness will play a major role in how you hear the next episode. 

A major shout out to the guest. Her bravery to look inside is amazing!

Episode Timestamps/Quotes

Quotes in bold

00:02:48 – “Closested life splits us up into so many fragments and we are code switching and hiding…what parts of self were at one point disintegrated? What kind of parts of you are there?”

00:03:54 – Guest describes them selves as other’s describe them: feminist, activist.

00:04:49 – Guest’s identity was on hold because of religion

5:00 – Guest gives timeline of their religious experience

00:08:13 – Stages of coming out: 1. Coming out to ourselves, 2. Coming out to friends, 3. Coming out to parents, 4. Reconciling theological component, 5. Then we have to let people see us express our sexuality.

00:09:21- “What is it about the vulnerability that might be scary or challenging? Why so much privacy?”

00:09:56 – Guest learned in the past: question everything but don’t have your own opinions

00:11:34 – Guest’s friend reaching out to save her soul

00:13:19 – “Questioning is a form of rejection, of betrayal. To have a loved one or family member or close friend start questioning creates an unsafe dynamic.”

00:16:50 – “It sounds demeaning, belittling your intelligence. Not trusting you to make the best decision for your own life. They somehow have a superior moral compass that you are lacking.”

00:17:35 – Guest reflects on the judgement they face in whatever career they have

00:18:05 – 16:25 – Guests feels like they are always going into a cocoon and coming out of one

00:18:53 – “Who are you on the other side of this? What is your ultimate goal? What do you want life to feel like?”

00:19:20 -17:40 – Guest wants to take time out of the spotlight

00:22:24 – “I find myself wondering, where do you belong?”

00:22:40 – Guest’s partner has a good sense of home and family while guest has had to learn to create these things

00:23:44 – Guest doesn’t know if their life should be as it is or should be something else or could be something else

00:24:22 – “Many of us who have lived in the closet for so many years…the one thing that creates a lot of wounding for us is our own competence…our competence to shapeshift and be the chameleon so that we can fabricate a sense of belonging…is the one thing that confuses us and makes us feel so uprooted.”

00:27:41- Boldness is a very different form of vulnerability. Another kind of vulnerability is standing naked and unashamed. It helps create home.

00:28:47 – Tree metaphor

00:30:33 – How do you move past imposter syndrome?

00:30:45 – “When we come out, oftentimes, I think we leave our compass in the closet…what we want and what we need.”

00:32:22 – “One of the ways that we overcome imposter syndrome is to gently and continuously ask, what do I need and want?”

00:35:44 – Why do we compartmentalize ourselves? Enmeshment.

00:37:01- Illusion of control – controlling the comfort of others by hiding ourselves

00:40:29 – To get past enmeshment ask, how am I already enough?

00:41:53 – TaDa’s – “Performing to make people happy. It gets disorienting to stop performing to get people to stay because it causes us to ask ourselves where our value comes from and why people stay.”

00:42:41 – Guest wondered, without their job, are they desirable?

00:44:30 – Practice vulnerability by unstacking yourself slowly, handing over small parts of yourself little by little. If a person cherishes each bit, they earn your trust.

00:45:22 – Cliff of Vulnerability

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Man being counseled

As a graduate student studying healthy relationships, I felt ashamed at how badly my relationships looked on paper. My friendships and love life were disintegrating like the petals of a plucked rose. I was full of shame. . . and vodka.

To figure out how I could get my wayward boat back on track, I booked a European vacation. The beach, a big journal and lots of fresh air would get me there!

As I sat on the beach in southern Spain, I realized that I had no idea who I was, what I was passionate about or what made me happy. Investing all of my energy in criticizing my partner and festering over old familial wounds had really zapped my flourishing.

I decided that if I was going to be a clinician someday, I better get my life in order. So I put down the vodka, drank my own medicine and found a reputable therapist.

During my time in therapy, I began to experience major epiphanies and changes that set my life and relationships right-side up. Over time I realized that my therapist was helping me awakened my numb, hollow body. It felt incredible to say, “I remember who I am!”

Man standing on mountain

Counseling for us in the LGBTQ+ community can be scary, but there are several benefits to counseling. My favorites are the ways it helps us connect to others and ourselves. Here are my top 4 ways:

1. Communication

Many LGBTQ people experience anger that keeps them from connecting; counseling allows you to identify the source of anger and to talk about other primary emotions like sadness, embarrassment, failure that live beneath anger. Thus, rather than exploding in anger, you can communicate your primary emotions, leading to greater trust and cohesion.

Another major communication tool that marriage therapy can offer is finding the best terms to describe yourself. My therapeutic journey led me to come out as a queer, gender non-conforming person, and without my therapist, I would not have found the words to accurately described who I was and what I needed from my loved ones.

Couple arguing

2. Ending Repeating Arguments

Let’s face it, whether two people double down on opposing positions or a back-and-forth simply cycles repeatedly in our heads, some arguments keep repeating.

Counseling gave me new remedies for recurring arguments surrounding emotions or frustrations that popped up in my day-to-day life. I realized that the context of the argument mattered less than the desire behind it.

3. Changing Unwanted Patterns

As my relationships stabilized and the arguing died down, I could finally tackle my long-standing, shaming behavioral patterns. I realized that I kept soothing my shame with tactics, food and substances that, to be honest, reinforced my shame. I was stuck in a serious loop of hurting, medicating my pain, feeling shamed for meager attempts at relief, all which landed me back at hurting again.

Instead of drinking too much, never-ending, compulsive episodes on Grindr, or sleeping with temporary hunks for a flash of acceptance, I became conscious of my patterns and found a way to break them.

My counselor allowed me to talk about the details of the embarrassing things I had done. His non-judgmental stance and caring posture allowed me to talk about and resolve my biggest hurdles. I love therapy for this very reason, among many others!

Compass

4. Clarity & Self-acceptance

Before couple’s counseling I had determined that I was dirty for being a queer, gender non-conforming person. My default setting was fixed on the belief that I was inferior to other men and a burden to my religious family and friends. But as I walked out of that room, time after time, I slowly left all of those false messages on the couch where I had just sat.

As a result, my relationships began to feel more comfortable because I could understand their internal mechanisms. I felt like I had control of my ship, something I had never experienced before.

Walking with pride as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and embracing life with a partner has helped me reach levels of life-satisfaction that only existed in my dreams.

I encourage you—if you want to experience these four benefits—to give therapy a try. It could be a life-changing process. Take the plunge! You won’t regret it!

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Exploring Attachment in Polyamorous Relationships

Introduction

Daniel Sloss, a 32-year-old comedian, provided a novel existential perspective about life, including relationships, through a thought-provoking analogy, in his 2018 Netflix special called Jigsaw. The following is paraphrased from a specific bit in the show. 

If we conceptualize every human’s life as their very own jigsaw puzzle, then we are all slowly trying to piece together experiences and memories until the full picture is achieved. However, no one has the box to the jigsaw puzzle and therefore has no idea what the final picture is meant to look like. So, everyone is attempting to make confident guesses as they go along. Starting at the edges seems like the intelligent way to put a jigsaw puzzle together, so we typically attempt to fix four standard corners; family, friends, hobbies/interests and career. These are undeniably subject to change as we ebb with the flow, so we keep redefining our four standard corners. Nevertheless, the big gaping hole in the middle of the jigsaw is what society has conditioned us to believe should be filled by “the one”. Consequently, as we get into adulthood, we have an internal narrative that makes us feel like if we are not with someone, we are not whole and we feel incomplete. Driven by fear, we may end up jamming the wrong puzzle piece in the middle so aggressively that we are forced to move other pieces around or toss them away, including other relational, occupational and personal pieces, leaving us with an unrecognizable picture at the end. 

It can be a challenge to find someone who loves us for who we are unconditionally. So at the earliest sign of relational validation, we may change ourselves (sometimes in extreme ways that creates an altered image), until that someone loves us. And then what? We have developed a habit, and have fallen into patterns of reacting and processing insecurities in unhealthy ways.

This is descriptive of one of four attachment styles based on attachment theory described by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, which explains that there evolutionarily exists a need for children to bond with their caregivers, and the quality of those bonds influence attachment patterns, including romantic attachment, throughout their life. When needs are adequately addressed, children learn that they are cared about and consequently feel like they matter. If not, children may develop insecure attachment styles, which manifest in more complex ways if they also endured abuse, neglect, threat or other forms of trauma.

Intriguingly, monogamy constructs external forms of security with legal marriage, home ownership, etc., which does not guarantee internal emotional security. Consensual non-monogamy, on the other hand, provides the option to develop self-defined norms that can lead to fulfilling relationships of different kinds that satiates the layered and expansive needs of an individual, without having them demand it all from one person.  So as Sloss suggests, what if the gaping hole in the middle of our jigsaws was to be filled by happiness? It could be derived from a partner, but it does not have to be like we have been made to believe by the happily ever after of fairytale and the tear-jerking movie soundtrack of a great rom-com. The pressure of monogamy may force us to believe that all relational needs can (and sometimes should) be met by a single partner, and if these needs are emanating from what was lacking due to attachment trauma, we feel incomplete and broken when our partner fails to fulfill all of them. Whereas polyamory encourages each relational need to be met fully by different partners which evokes an interesting albeit self-focused thought; if this is your life, your jigsaw, then you get to decide what pieces fit best based on how you choose to grow and with whom. Be selective, be intentional.

Attachment in Polyamorous Relationships

After a recent break-up, I floated into an unfamiliar existential spiral about relationships and reached out to my mentor for some wisdom. Following a long vent session featuring the typical complaints of “how could he?”, “but he said” and “after all this time”, she asked me one question- “are people allowed to change their minds?” 

It took a couple of minutes for my wounded ego to process that question, and then a little bit of clarity sunk in. The circumstances of my break-up had more to do with what my partner was experiencing, which led him to communicate his thoughts and take a step back from the relationship because it did not fit into his reality as well as it did in mine. Although my feelings were valid, I learned that the “return on investment” expectation was a core belief that needed some challenging. Moreover, this opened up another conversation with my mentor, that shifted the way I understood consensual non-monogamy. 

If we were to broadly classify our relational needs as intellectual, emotional and sexual, our dream partner would meet all of them fully and completely, which is unrealistic and, truthfully, disappointing. So, we get to choose and sometimes prioritize our needs as non-negotiable and negotiable. This could lead to any combination of relational needs; 80% sexual, 60% emotional and 40% intellectual, or something else. We may also feel the need to demand our one partner to meet all of them, and feel unloved and unvalued if they cannot or choose not to meet them (which is understandable, let’s be real). But when compromise turns into sacrifice, it may create relational ruptures that cause conflicts and sometimes break-ups. For instance, my intellectual needs were almost 80-90% met by my former partner, but my emotional and sexual needs were dwindling. 

So what if all of these relational needs could be 100% met, just not by one partner?

That was how consensual non-monogamy was explained to me, as a non-society-endorsed choice that you make because you find that having your relational needs completely met is more important than finding “the one” that cloaks you in a security blanket to keep you cozy in capitalism. A jolt to the system, no? Same. I sat with this information and wondered if consensual non-monogamy is for me, and I learned that my needs can be met by platonic relationships in addition to my romantic one. I used to believe that finding “my person” would mean that I have won at life, but various perspectives about relationships, including the one presented by Daniel Sloss, has allowed me to reassess and lean on the many different relationships I have in my life to satiate my relational needs. I’d rather have my partner meet a little over 50% of those needs, and not a 100% because as a fully functioning human being with relational needs of their own cannot.

Have you wondered about your relationship style?

Here are a few questions that you can use to begin a thoughtful dialogue with yourself! 

  1. Have I wrestled with commitment issues? 
  2. Have I experienced falling in love with or having crushes on multiple people at the same time? 
  3. Am I okay with the idea of my partner seeing other people?
  4. Am I comfortable communicating my fears, insecurities, boundaries and limitations?
  5. Is consensual non-monogamy wrong for me or is it just hard right now? 
  6. What am I afraid of?

Curious about how attachment styles influence polyamorous relationships? Ready to explore the benefits of consensual non-monogamy? Dive deeper into your relational needs and discover new perspectives. Start your journey today by reflecting on your relationship style and finding what fits best for you

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Family Therapy

Outside, a late snow had fallen, even as the first signs of spring had already come up. Inside the retreat center, we were toasty, sipping on coffee and cocoa during a break. I had hosted enough weekend seminars to recognize the signs of someone who needed to talk. One particular father was opening up to me, his brows knit in confusion: “I keep asking myself, ‘Why would my daughter make such a drastic decision?’”

He wasn’t the only one with questions, grief and worry. I have spent many years working with Christian parents whose children come out as members of the LGBTQIA+ community. During our weekend retreats and one-on-one sessions together, these parents have felt lost and utterly confused and sometimes even explosive anger.

girl with pride flag

There are many questions and internal hurdles to tackle when a child comes out. So to help you continue your parent/child journey here are 4 ideas to consider:

1. My Biases Might Affect My Response

Many of us established moral and ideological opinion on members of the LGBTQIA+ community as sexually deviant or socially inferior. Many of us grew up in communities that used LGBTQIA+ terms as slurs or names to belittle others. As children come out, it is very common to hear those old arguments hum their tune; this time, however, it’s about your own child.
If your child has come out, it’s the perfect time to hit the pause button on the rolling moral or social dialogue that you might have inherited from childhood. Take time to listen and learn from LGBTQIA+ people. Your understanding might shift dramatically and take on new beliefs as an adult, giving you a new perspective that allows you to love who your child is, rather than who they were ‘supposed to become.’

2. It’s Not My Fault

Many parents, especially those in close proximity to religious influences, have internalized the belief that parents cause impressionable children to become gay, lesbian, or trans. The ‘distant father and overbearing mother’ Freudian narrative we’ve been fed for years still seems like a convincing narrative.

I find that many parents who believe in the old theories of homosexuality and gender identity are easily angered by their children’s coming out because they blame themselves. In one way or another, they believe the notion that if they can convince their children to change their minds, they will inevitably protect their own reputation as loving parents. And when they cannot convince their children to change, even by using shame or explosive anger, powerlessness settles in and relational fractures splice the family into pieces.

Thankfully, research now proves that parenting and socialization have no effect on a child’s gender identity and sexual orientation (which is very different than both sexual identity and sexual activity).

When parents can recognize that their children’s sexual orientations and gender identities are neither determined by culture, family, nor parenting styles they are more easily able to hear about the child’s internal reality and make peace with what it means for them. These parents move from a sense of guilt or shame toward acceptance of themselves and their children, making familial attachments and cohesion more possible.

sexual orientation

3. Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Are Established Before Birth

Peer reviewed research (when multiple research teams perform the same experiment and find similar statistical results) has proven that sexual orientation and gender identity are predetermined before birth, based not on genetic determinants, but by a hormonal bathing that washes the fetus during weeks 6 and 12.

This powerful discovery by research now gives us the ability to understand that sexual orientation and gender identity are not a choice or a matter of persuasive peer pressure to which a child has succumbed.

Parents who can understand that their children were born with the seeds of sexuality and gender planted into the soil of their neurology––seeds that would eventually blossom as normal and organic maturation occurs––are able to make peace with the fact that sexual orientation and gender identity are outside of their or their children’s control.

In this light, I always encourage parents to take the bold and very challenging step of asking about their children’s stories: how they first felt their gender identity, how they experience their sexual orientation or gender identity, how your child might have tried to deny her/his/their internal knowing, and how it has very little to do with peer pressure or parenting, could be very illumination, as well as relieving. This takes parents out of the realm of fear and speculation, and into their children’s lives.

4. Grieve Your Dreams, Not Your Child

Almost every parent I’ve worked with has brought an incredible amount of grief into my office. Struck with pain and panic, these parents spend many hours trying to reconcile who their children are becoming versus who they thought they’d be.

One important realization that helps these parents is recognizing the distinction between grieving their children and grieving the hopes they had for their children. Although grieving hopes and dreams is entirely legitimate, focusing on hopes and dreams allows grieving parents to open up to the reality of seeing, maybe for the first time, their children’s full-hearted authenticity. Grieving the death of the hopes and dreams gives way for a renewed sense of life, the life of who the child is and where they are going.

Working with hundreds of parents over the years, I have come to see common concerns and patterns that, when deconstructed, can make a massive difference, not only for parents and the family, but for the child’s ongoing mental health. Every parent has what it takes to love and protect their coming out child. We encourage you to confront your fears with courage, challenge your anger with compassion, and create the connections that leaves you and your family standing in confidence.

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lesbian marriage counseling

In Denver, a city celebrated for its inclusive culture, lesbian couples–seeking to fortify their relationship–have access to expert, compassionate counseling. Here, we explore the unique challenges lesbian couples may encounter, outline the qualifications of specialized LGBTQIA+ focused counselors, and share personal testimonials that highlight the profound impact of such counseling.

Unique Challenges Faced by Lesbian Couples

Lesbian relationships can face a variety of specific challenges which may include:

  • People Pleasing & Anxiety: It is very common to have one partner in the relationship working hard to keep the other comfortable and stable, while the other feels fearfully detached and comes across as either critical or powerless. Such a dynamic is common. Small adjustments can take a lesbian couple a long way. 
  • Boundaries & Communication: Many lesbian couples have repeating arguments that stem from challenges (emotional, relational, and past traumas) and pepper their relationships with hopelessness and confusion. 
  • Internalized Homophobia: Struggles with internalized societal biases can negatively influence self-esteem and interpersonal dynamics.
  • Coming Out: The journey of coming out to family, friends, and colleagues can often bring anxiety and may impact the relationship dynamics.
  • Family Acceptance: Challenges in gaining acceptance from family members can create significant emotional turmoil and conflict within the relationship.

Addressing these issues within a supportive counseling environment can lead to transformative outcomes for couples grappling with these challenges. Learn more about Attachment in Polyamorous Relationships!

Addressing These Challenges Through Counseling

Expert counselors in Denver are uniquely positioned to support lesbian couples as they navigate the intricate challenges that may affect their relationships. These professionals create a nurturing environment where couples can openly address internal conflicts, societal pressures, and family dynamics. Here’s how counseling can help address three major areas: internalized homophobia, the coming out process, and family acceptance.

Understanding People Pleasing Patterns and Anxiety

Life in the closet is bad for us in more ways than one. As we live hiding our true selves it can either feel like our hiding is what keeps others around us comfortable, or as though our hiding is what keeps us detached from others and anxious. Either way, as we live closeted–from our most intimate relationships–we develop a relational software that stems from childhood closeted experiences and affects our romantic, professional, and platonic relationships. 

How Counseling Helps:

  • Learning about Enmeshment & Detachment: identifying how enmeshment (people pleasing) and/or detachment (feeling isolated and anxious) are inherent effects of living in the closet can help couples talk openly about what has hurt and what needs to change
  • Learn About Your Relational Dynamic: Assessing how these patterns affect romantic relationships and have defined relational and/or emotional intimacy
  • Setting the Tone You Crave: Redefining ways of connecting as a means of learning to trust a new pattern and playing a new, healthy role in relationships
  • Loving Yourself To Love Another: Connecting back to authenticity and independence so that your relationships doesn’t feel like work, but liberation

Practicing Boundaries and Healthy Communication

Lesbians often joke about ‘U-hauling it.’ And sometimes there is a lot of momentum in relationships, but not enough boundaries to support the movement. In the excitement and surge of getting to know one another, it is easy to overlook setting a solid platform upon which the relationship can thrive. Boundaries and efficient communication are two tactics that can propel an excited, lesbian couple from stage one into a long and fulfilling future. 

How Counseling Helps:

  • Creating Sophisticated Boundaries: Boundaries are often thought to be a wall that protects us. As such, they also become barriers to healthy emotional intimacy. Utilizing a sophisticated boundary system, we see that they actually help us bond
  • Objectifying Behaviors: A mature boundary system will allow us to assess our own behaviors so that we can feel proud of how we show up in relationships. It will also help you empathize with your partner’s emotional experience. Again, a strong boundary system will strengthen your ability to understand one another and keep the relationship organized
  • Empathy Feeds Healthy Communication: Once we have a healthy boundary system, communicating efficiently and healthily is inevitable. With the distance that a health boundary creates, our partner’s emotions no longer feel like personal attacks. Communication then is another tool that allows you to learn about your partner as opposed to needing to protect yourself from her. 

Lesbian Marriage & Relationship Counseling in Denver

Exploring Feelings of Internalized Homophobia

Internalized homophobia is a common challenge many lesbian individuals face, stemming from societal messages that may have been unconsciously accepted over time. This can manifest in feelings of shame, low self-esteem, or conflict about one’s own sexual orientation.

How Counseling Helps:

  • Deconstruction of Negative Beliefs: Counselors assist individuals in unpacking and challenging these internalized beliefs, helping to dismantle the negative self-concepts they have developed.
  • Promotion of Self-Acceptance: Therapy sessions focus on building self-acceptance and pride in one’s identity, which are crucial for personal happiness and healthy relationships.
  • Improvement of Relationship Dynamics: As individuals feel more comfortable with their identities, their relationship dynamics can improve, fostering closer and more authentic connections with their partners.

Strategizing the Coming Out Process

Coming out to family, friends, and colleagues can be a significant source of anxiety and stress for lesbian individuals and couples. Each coming out experience is unique, and the process can significantly impact both personal well-being and relationship health.

How Counseling Helps:

  • Personalized Coming Out Strategies: Counselors work with individuals and couples to develop tailored strategies for coming out that consider personal circumstances and the potential reactions of others.
  • Support Systems: Therapy provides a supportive backdrop where individuals can discuss fears and concerns about coming out, ensuring they do not face this challenging process alone.
  • Managing Reactions: Counselors equip clients with tools to handle various reactions, whether supportive or adverse, helping to maintain their emotional equilibrium throughout the process.

Facilitating Family Acceptance Dialogues

Family acceptance is crucial for the emotional well-being of lesbian couples. However, not all families are immediately accepting, and navigating this reality can be emotionally draining.

How Counseling Helps:

  • Communication Techniques: Counselors teach effective communication skills that help couples articulate their needs and boundaries clearly to their families, which can lead to better understanding and acceptance.
  • Mediation and Facilitation: In some cases, counselors may act as mediators in family dialogues, helping to facilitate discussions that might otherwise be too emotionally charged to handle alone.

Coping Mechanisms: For ongoing non-acceptance, counselors help couples develop coping mechanisms to protect their relationship and well-being, allowing them to maintain connections with family where possible, without compromising their mental health.

Creating a Safe and Affirmative Counseling Environment

It is crucial for therapy to occur in a space where lesbian couples can freely explore issues related to sexuality, gender identity, and non-traditional relationship dynamics without judgment:

  • Exploration of Sexuality and Gender Identity: Counselors provide a secure environment to discuss these topics openly, which is vital for personal and relationship growth.
  • Non-Traditional Relationship Dynamics: Counselors support couples in navigating and embracing various relationship structures, enhancing mutual satisfaction and understanding.

The Impact of Supportive Counseling

The benefits of a supportive counseling environment extend beyond the therapy sessions:

Improved Communication

One of the most immediate impacts of a supportive counseling environment is the enhancement of communication skills within a relationship. Effective communication is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship, and it becomes even more crucial when navigating the complexities associated with lesbian relationships, such as societal pressures and internal conflicts.

Benefits of Improved Communication:

  • Clarity and Understanding: Couples learn how to express their thoughts and feelings clearly and listen to each other without judgment. This understanding helps prevent misunderstandings and builds a foundation of trust.
  • Conflict Resolution: With better communication, couples can more effectively resolve conflicts. They learn to approach disagreements with a problem-solving attitude rather than a confrontational one.
  • Expressing Needs and Desires: A supportive environment encourages individuals to voice their needs and desires openly, ensuring that both partners understand what is important for maintaining a healthy relationship.

Increased Cohesion and Partnership

A supportive counseling environment also cultivates a deeper sense of partnership and cohesion. When couples feel understood and supported by their therapist, they are more likely to extend that understanding and support to each other.

Strengthening Relationship Bonds:

  • Shared Goals and Values: Counseling helps partners align their goals and values, fostering a shared vision for their relationship’s future.
  • Mutual Support: As couples work through their issues in a safe space, they learn how to offer and receive support, strengthening their bond.
  • Facing Challenges Together: A strengthened partnership equips couples to handle external pressures more effectively, whether from family, society, or professional environments.

Personal Empowerment

Finally, the benefits of a supportive counseling environment contribute significantly to personal empowerment. Individuals are encouraged to explore and affirm their identities, which is particularly impactful in a society where LGBTQIA+ identities may still face stigma and discrimination.

Elements of Personal Empowerment:

  • Self-Acceptance: Therapy provides the tools for individuals to accept themselves fully, which is crucial for mental and emotional health.
  • Confidence in Identity: As individuals become more confident in their identities, they are better able to live authentically and maintain open, honest relationships.
  • Empowered Decision-Making: With a stronger sense of self, individuals can make decisions that truly reflect their needs and values, positively affecting all areas of their lives.

Expertise of Denver’s LGBTQIA+ Counselors

The effectiveness of relationship counseling is significantly enhanced by a counselor’s expertise, particularly their understanding of lesbian relationships. Counselors in Denver bring a robust skill set:

  • Part of the Querr & Trans Communities
  • Specialized Training: Many hold advanced degrees with additional certifications in LGBTQIA+ mental health, ensuring they are equipped with the latest therapeutic methodologies and insights.
  • Extensive Experience: Effective counselors often bring years of experience working directly with LGBTQIA+ individuals, deepening their understanding of the unique pressures and challenges faced by these communities.
  • Credentials: It’s essential to verify that counselors are licensed and accredited by recognized mental health organizations.

Testimonials from the Community

  • Megan Thoprakane: “The team at iAmClinic has been huge in getting my relationship back on track. I can’t thank them enough for helping me understand all the unconscious ways I had been sabotaging my relationships.”
  • Emily Dykes: “I’ve been coming to the iAmClinic for years for individual and couples therapy. I’ve always had an incredible experience but today was particularly special. I attended a breathwork session and it was powerful!! It’s beautifully led, and I felt well supported the whole time but I was also given the space I needed to follow my own body and feelings in my breath. This felt safe, meaningful, and I highly recommend to all!!”

Discover the Support You Need at iAmClinic

If you’re looking for relationship counseling in Denver, consider the iAmClinic. With specialized expertise in LGBTQIA+ issues, our counselors are committed to providing a safe, understanding, and affirming environment to help you and your partner navigate the complexities of your relationship. Whether you’re dealing with internal challenges, societal pressures, or family dynamics, iAmClinic is here to support your journey towards a stronger bond and a healthier relationship. Contact us today to see how we can support you and your relationship goals.

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LGBTQIA+ Marriage Counseling in Denver - What to Expect

Introduction

Marriage is a beautiful union, but it can also come with its fair share of challenges. For LGBTQIA+ couples, navigating the complexities of a relationship can be even more nuanced, as they often face unique societal pressures and experiences. This is where marriage counseling can be an invaluable resource, providing a safe and inclusive space to work through conflicts, strengthen communication, and deepen the bond between partners.

If you’re an LGBTQIA+ couple in Denver considering marriage counseling, you may have questions about what to expect from the process. In this blog post, we’ll explore the key aspects of marriage counseling tailored specifically for LGBTQIA+ individuals by the team at iAmClinic, ensuring you feel prepared and empowered to take this important step towards a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.

Understanding the Unique Challenges Faced by LGBTQIA+ Couples

LGBTQIA+ couples often face challenges that heterosexual couples may not encounter. These can include:

  • Societal stigma and discrimination
  • Lack of familial support or acceptance
  • Navigating the complexities of gender identity and expression
  • Dealing with internalized homophobia or transphobia
  • Navigating the legal and logistical aspects of marriage equality

The skilled marriage counselors at iAmClinic who specialize in working with LGBTQIA+ couples will have a deep understanding of these challenges and be equipped to address them with sensitivity and expertise.

Finding an LGBTQIA+ Affirming Counselor

One of the most important aspects of successful marriage counseling for LGBTQIA+ couples is finding a counselor who is affirming and knowledgeable about LGBTQIA+ challenges. At iAmClinic, our counselors have received specialized training to create a safe, non-judgmental environment where you can openly discuss your experiences without fear of discrimination or misunderstanding.

The counselors don’t consider the queer and trans communities a specialty as outsiders because we are part of the queer and trans communities. We explicitly state our affirmation of LGBTQIA+ identities and experience. As we work with LGBTQIA+ couples, we ensure you feel comfortable and understood throughout the counseling process.

LGBTQIA+ Marriage Counseling in Denver - What to Expect

Intersectionality and Cultural Competence

At iAmClinic, we recognize that the LGBTQIA+ experience is not a one-size-fits-all journey. Each individual’s identity is shaped by the intersections of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, and various other cultural factors. Our counselors are trained to approach each couple’s unique situation with intersectional awareness and cultural competence.

We understand that LGBTQIA+ individuals from diverse backgrounds may face compounded challenges and discrimination. For example, a queer person of color might experience racism within the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as homophobia or transphobia within their racial or ethnic community. A devoutly religious LGBTQIA+ individual might struggle with reconciling their faith and identity. These intersections can create complex emotional and psychological landscapes that require a nuanced and culturally sensitive approach.

Our counselors are committed to creating a safe and affirming space where all aspects of your identities are respected and validated. We take the time to understand your unique cultural contexts, lived experiences, and the ways in which your multiple identities intersect and influence your relationship dynamics.

Through ongoing training and education, our counselors stay informed about the latest research and best practices in intersectional and culturally responsive counseling. We actively work to dismantle our own biases and assumptions, continually expanding our knowledge and awareness of the diverse experiences within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Whether you’re navigating cultural or familial expectations, exploring the intersections of your gender and racial identities, or seeking support in integrating your spirituality and sexuality, our counselors are here to provide a compassionate and culturally competent space for your journey.

Preparation and Expectations

Taking the step towards marriage counseling can be both exciting and daunting. At iAmClinic, we understand that preparation and knowing what to expect can help alleviate some of the uncertainties and anxieties that come with starting this process. Here’s what you can anticipate and how to prepare for your marriage counseling sessions:

Before Your First Session:

  • Reflect on your goals and intentions for seeking counseling. What specific issues or concerns would you like to address?
  • Have an open and honest conversation with your partner about your reasons for seeking counseling and your shared expectations.
  • Make a list of questions or topics you’d like to discuss during the initial session.

The First Session:

  • Expect the counselor to ask about your relationship history, individual backgrounds, and current challenges.
  • Be prepared to discuss your goals and expectations for counseling openly.
  • The counselor will likely outline their approach, establish ground rules for the sessions, and explain confidentiality policies.
  • This session is an opportunity for you and the counselor to get to know each other and determine if it’s a good fit.

Subsequent Sessions:

  • Your counselor will guide you through various exercises and techniques to improve communication, conflict resolution, and emotional intimacy.
  • Be open to trying new strategies and approaches, even if they may feel uncomfortable initially.
  • Expect homework assignments or activities to practice between sessions.
  • Once there is stability in communication and interactions, your therapist will begin attuning to emotional dynamics, peeling back layers to ensure your challenges are cut off from the root. 
  • Be patient and trust the process. Counseling can be challenging, but it’s a journey toward a stronger, more fulfilling relationship.

Getting the Most Out of Counseling:

  • Approach each session with an open mind and a willingness to be vulnerable and honest.
  • Actively participate in the exercises and discussions.
  • Follow through with any homework or assignments provided by the counselor.
  • Be patient and consistent with the process. Change takes time and commitment.
  • Communicate openly with your counselor and provide feedback on what’s working or what you might need more support with.

At iAmClinic, our goal is to create a safe, supportive, and productive environment for your marriage counseling journey. By preparing mentally and emotionally, you’ll be better equipped to engage fully in the process and maximize the benefits for your relationship.

The Counseling Process for LGBTQIA+ Couples

Marriage counseling for LGBTQIA+ couples typically follows a similar structure to counseling for heterosexual couples, but with a focus on addressing the unique challenges and experiences of LGBTQIA+ individuals.

During the initial session, the counselor will gather information about your relationship history, current concerns, and goals for counseling. They may also explore your individual identities, experiences with discrimination or trauma, and any specific issues related to your sexual orientation or gender identity.

Subsequent sessions will delve deeper into communication strategies, conflict resolution techniques, and exercises to strengthen your emotional intimacy and understanding of each other’s perspectives. The counselor may also provide guidance on navigating legal or logistical aspects of your relationship, such as navigating the complexities of marriage equality or dealing with unsupportive family members.

Throughout the process, the counselor will create a safe, non-judgmental space for you to openly discuss your experiences, feelings, and concerns without fear of discrimination or misunderstanding.

Benefits of Marriage Counseling for LGBTQIA+ Couples

Marriage counseling can offer numerous benefits for LGBTQIA+ couples, including:

1. Improved communication and conflict resolution skills

2. A deeper understanding and acceptance of each other’s identities, personality type, and experiences with tools to feel balance that leaves you feeling safe and satisfied

3. Strategies for coping with societal stigma and discrimination

4. Tools for navigating the complexities of gender identity and expression

5. Guidance on navigating legal and logistical aspects of marriage equality

6. A stronger, more fulfilling, and supportive relationship

By seeking marriage counseling from an LGBTQIA+ affirming counselor, you and your partner can embark on a journey of self-discovery, healing, and growth, ultimately strengthening the foundation of your relationship.

Taking the First Step

If you’re an LGBTQIA+ couple in Denver considering marriage counseling, know that you’re not alone in your journey. The team at iAmClinic is dedicated to providing a safe, inclusive, and affirming space for you to explore the challenges and joys of your relationship.

Don’t hesitate to reach out and schedule an initial consultation with one of iAmClinic’s recommended LGBTQIA+ affirming counselors. This first step can be the beginning of a transformative journey towards a deeper understanding, stronger bond, and a more fulfilling partnership.

Remember, your relationship deserves to be celebrated, nurtured, and supported, and marriage counseling at iAmClinic can be an invaluable tool in achieving that goal.

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Men in Bed Texting

I’ll admit it—I was a novice at dating, but I tried my hardest to love the man who showered me with gifts. He provided me with European vacations, cars and an offer of lifetime commitment, but I couldn’t fully settle into our relationship. I was too wide-eyed and curious. I wanted to know what it would feel like to sleep with other people and date other personality types. I was desperately searching for the dream man I had made up in my head.

Without being fully conscious of it, I lived under the assumption that the perfect man was out there waiting for me. Even though my boyfriend of the time was enamored with me and my personality, his love was no match for my wild and unrestrained curiosity. 

I was caught in perpetual ambivalence: I wanted him so desperately, but I couldn’t commit. I loved him, but I didn’t know with certainty if I would be happy. I was ready to set down roots but leary that I might regret a permanent decision. I’m sad to say I was too uncertain in my value and my lovability. 

The poor chap. He made every attempt to convince me of his love, and yet, he could feel the energy of my rowdy desires and unsettled determination. It was in this emotionally chaotic and uncertain spell that he was deployed for 18 months as an Army reservist. He left feeling lonely, unimportant, valueless, and invisible. 

One and one-half years later, he walked in our apartment, returned from Iraq. I knew we had hit an all-time low. He was cold, seemingly irritated by my presence. Within 24 hours, he asked me to move out. He needed the room so that his new boyfriend could move in. 

Needless to say, I spent months reeling with the facts. He had cheated on me. I spent several months walking in a haze of confusion, pangs of floor-dropping anxiety and gut wrenching grief.

sad man on edge of bed

In the aftermath, I felt as though I was sitting in a crater where our home once stood. It was one of the darkest seasons of my life. The debilitating sorrow, however, forced me to reckon with the truth.

I realized that we had lived in a relationally dry climate for too long, and we alone were responsible for letting it get there. Our vulnerability was too low, our passion had diminished, and we had begun living separate lives. His healthy emotional desires had gone unseen, unacknowledged and unmet for too long. He had been emotionally starving with no sustenance in sight. I was a major contributor to our relational dynamic, often neglecting it, but he chose to respond to our bad situation in a very bad way. 

Sadly, this type of emotional hunger is all-too common for and often catalyzes those who cheat. 

The alarms of emotional hunger may not come all at once. But when important desires—belonging, love, thrill, satisfaction, joy, and romance—go unmet for long, partners find emotional resources elsewhere. Some reach for healthy options like close relatives, best friends or co-workers. 

Other partners may begin to scan for another lover who might be able to meet their emotional needs ‘perfectly.’ In the starvation phase, they often fantasize about the ideal partner and project that fantasy outside of their relationship. At the end of the day, they’re simply looking for someone who can fill up their emotional buckets.

Feeling silenced by the repeated rejection that leads to shame of their emotional or sexual yearnings, partners like my ex may be afraid to voice their true desires and needs. As a result of this lacking safety, they often meet their needs in secret—thus, cheating. In other words, discussing unmet needs with a neglectful or shaming partner is often much more difficult than seeking to meet their needs outside the relationship.

A new sexual partner—for a person in a dry emotional environment—is like an IV drip for a drastically dehydrated person. Sex is a major source of emotional connectedness and exciting vulnerability. Because emotional connectedness and sex oftne go hand in hand, it is no wonder an emtionally starved partner might reach for deeply sattisfying and thrilling sexual encounters. Playing out our emotional fantasies with a new sexual partner will reap short-term benefits because we feel immediately worthy, desired, and special, especially when someone is excited to sleep with us. If, for an emotionally hungry person, fantasizing is a medication, having sex is the buffet table. Again, cheating is a bad way to respond to a bad situation. 

Obviously, cheating as a type of emotional replenishing causes major damage to relational stability and trust. 

Men Holding Hands black and white

Understanding Why Infidelity Happened

While emotional starvation was a factor in my own experience, research shows there are various other potential causes of cheating in gay couples to understand. Some of these include:

  • Unresolved internalized homophobia leading to shame around needs.
  • Issues with sexual compatibility or mismatched libidos.
  • Different expectations about open relationships.
  • Lack of communication and emotional intimacy.
  • Substance abuse problems.
  • Childhood trauma and attachment issues.

It’s important not to make excuses for cheating, but understanding the nuanced causes in your particular situation can help you both heal. Be open to hearing your partner’s perspective without judgment. Infidelity often happens due to complex reasons.

Tips for the Unfaithful Partner

If you were the one who cheated, recovery starts with you fully owning your actions and making amends. Here are some steps:

  • Give your partner space if needed. Don’t pressure them to “just get over it.”
  • Be prepared to answer any questions they have with full honesty.
  • When it is the right time, tell your partner what was missing that you sought from an affair and work together to meet those needs appropriately.
  • Understand that rebuilding broken trust takes consistent action over time, not just words. Prove yourself trustworthy again, even if it takes longer than you expect.
  • Seek individual counseling to understand your reasons for cheating and change harmful behaviors.
  • Accept that full forgiveness may take a long time or not happen. Focus on being respectful and caring.

Guidance for the Betrayed Partner

Discovering a partner’s infidelity can be utterly devastating. Here is how to start healing:

  • Allow yourself to fully feel anger, hurt, and grief. Don’t minimize the damage done.
  • Confide in trusted friends and family for support if needed.
  • Consider if any issues in the relationship preceded the cheating and caused distance.
  • If you want to rebuild things, be clear on the boundaries and steps required to regain trust.
  • Communicate what your partner can do to help you feel safe in the relationship again.
  • Seek professional counseling solo or as a couple if you’re struggling to move forward.

Should We Stay or Should We Go? A Decision Framework/Checklist

If you’re uncertain if your relationship can or should recover from cheating, asking yourself these questions can provide clarity:

Assess the cheating partner’s mindset:

  • Are they fully owning the infidelity and showing genuine remorse?
  • What steps have they taken (or are they willing to take) to understand why it happened and change their harmful behaviors?
  • Do you believe their promises to be faithful moving forward?

Evaluate the state of the relationship:

  • How satisfying and emotionally connected were things before the cheating?
  • What unresolved issues or needs might have contributed to the distance between you?
  • Are you both willing to openly communicate and put in consistent effort to renew intimacy and trust?

Reflect on your own emotions:

  • When you imagine staying together, does it mostly feel exhausting or hopeful?
  • Can you envision regaining a sense of safety being vulnerable with this person again?
  • Do you believe you could regain passion and positivity in the relationship together?

Consider external factors:

  • Do you share finances, property, pets or children that would make separating more complicated?
  • Is there family pressure on either side to stay or leave?
  • Does the length of the relationship make it harder to let go?

Envision your futures:

  • If you split, do you feel confident you could heal and eventually find love with someone new?
  • If you stay, can you see yourself being happy and trusting your partner completely again?

Really dig deep and listen to your gut when answering these questions. While there are no absolute right or wrong answers, the wisdom you need is within you. Trust your intuition. Some relationships can heal stronger than before after infidelity, while others cannot. Make an informed choice of what is healthiest for you.

If you are currently seeking to repair damage caused from cheating, here are things to consider:

1. Create a safe environment for one hell of an apology.

Your partner will need to understand that your apology is sincere and not just an empty gesture to return things to normal. To set the mood and create a healthy repair, emotional responsibility and empathy should always be part of the formula. Here are the thought prompts to my 5-Step Apology:

  1. This what I did that hurt you. (Describe the boundary violations so that they know you mean what you say and that your grief and regret have merit.)
  2. This is how it affected you. (Describe how your actions affected your partner and what they might be feeling, emotions like unsafe, stupid, angry, hurt, untrusting, etc.)
  3. This is how I got to the point of hurting you. (Don’t make excuses! Own your shit, take responsibility, and tell your partner(s) about how you ended up making your decisions. Be honest and authentic.)
  4. This is what I am willing to do to protect you, myself and us from this happening again. (Tell your partner about the precautions and boundaries you will put in place, as well as the work you will do to repair your own emotional environment. You may need to be vulnerable. Ask your partner to work on their fair share to repair any stale emotional environment, but save requests for a later time.)
  5. Apologize with sincerity. 

Although an apology is only a beginning step, it is a major way to bring resolution. You may have to run through the 5-Step Apology over and over again because your partner may need to hear it several times as they process your betrayal and learn to trust you again. 

2. Practice Trusting

Trusting a partner who has cheated can be scary and utterly challenging. The practice of trusting your partner involves  setting proper and stable boundaries, accepting the 5-Step Apology and allowing time to pass so that you can heal. Trust must be earned, but if your partner has earned it, practice recognizing it and leaning into it. This is possibly the most challenging step in the recovery process because we must grieve  and work through very big anger before we are ready to trust again. I always recommend allowing the grief and anger to surface so that the emotionally environment is primed for trusting again.

3. Practice Vulnerability and Create Safety

Like my ex, I often hear cheaters, in couples’ sessions, defend their long-standing history of being vulnerable, asking for their needs to be met, and eventually feeling shamed by all the judgment they encountered.

Without vulnerability and safety relationships will be dry. They will not be able to reach the satisfaction and passion they once had. Although one person may have cheated, all involved are responsible for creating a safe and trustworthy space where any partner can share what they need and be comfortable doing so. Contrastingly, judgment and criticism will shut down vulnerability over time. Vulnerability is a practice of showing up with even the most disdained parts of yourself and trusting your partner to see and care for them. When romantic partners grow for one another, they reestablish their safety, connection and passion. In such a relational context, emotional satisfaction can abound.

Even if you wonder, “How can I move on after cheating?” you can reestablish a healthy, thriving relationship. Counseling professionals have walked through this process with other couples and can support you on your journey toward healing. Don’t hesitate to get the help you need. It will take work, but oftentimes our closest relationships are worth the fight. 

Ready for a change for you or a loved one? Schedule a Free 15 Minute Consultation today.

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Relationship advice for gay couples

Introduction

After a long season of tolerating major stressors, my husband and I stared to spiral a bit. In all of our busyness we started to neglect one another and it was our emotional needs that suffered the most. He had shutdown and I had resorted to anger. We were both resentful. I had, slowly over time, forgotten to implement the stabilizing techniques upon which our relationship was built. It was our turn for couples therapy. Regardless if your a seasoned therapist like me, in a 20 year relationship, or a 2-month situationship, the following steps might just help you get your relationship up and running, but this time with a little more ease.

Step 1: Learn how to implement mature boundaries

LGBTQIA+ couples or polycules usually start their relationships, like everyone else, with the need to negotiate new boundaries. When we have poor boundaries we are convinced that we can manage someone else’s comfort- and more so that our partner should be capable and willing to manage ours. A mature boundary system is like a snow globe keeping our emotional temperature regulated no matter what happens on the other side of the glass dome. Demanding that our partner leaves their snow globe to adjust the thermostat inside our snow globes, we start to judge their performance based on how well they can keep us comfortable, happy, pleased, seen, etc. 

As a means of stopping repeating arguments and in attempt to create a healthy dynamic inside of your relationship(s), learn to regulate your emotional climate instead of demanding that your partner(s) do it for you. A poor boundary system will keeping you emotionally jabbing your partner for more in ways that don’t clearly communicate your needs. The jabs themselves are violations of normal and healthy boundaries and these violations can set your relationship up for resentment and escalating pain. A healthy boundary system will not only keep the emotional interactions organized and healthy, but you will also create a safety that will allow your partner(s) to grow in authenticity and vulnerability. Speaking of vulnerability…

Step 2: Practice vulnerability

Opening up emotionally has all sorts of  fears and baggage that come with it. As children our needs and wants, as well as our honesty and our insecurities might have been squashed. Dating and all the ways we’re trained to manage one another’s thermostats has convinced us that our needs and wants don’t matter. I have seen it time and time again: not talking about what you emotional crave will set you up to get it elsewhere. Cheating, lying, or building resentment that comes out as anger or criticism will be the new accessory to your relational decor. And trust me, you don’t want that. Learn more about Attachment in Polyamorous Relationships!

No matter where vulnerability went array or how, it is hard to find the safety to open up, especially about our emotional needs. Expressing your desire for more attention, more thrill, a deeper sense of connection, or the need to be seen in a more significant way can feel completely awkward and possibly even selfish. But don’t give up too soon. Vulnerability will not only change your relationship, it will change the ways you experience love, trust honesty, and grow in self-esteem. 

Step 3: Weekly Check-ins

Terrence Real, a world-class relationship expert, had an idea that transformed my marriage: Arena Times. 

Having a weekly meeting on your calendar to share your thoughts, express your pains, and articulate your needs and wants is a great opportunity to not only practice boundaries and vulnerability, but also to repair your relationship. 

Having a set weekly time for Arena Times not only helps stabilize your sense of being safe, but it will also keep your connection honest and—dare I say—sexy. Emotional intimacy will produce sexual intimacy.

In this blog entry I listed Arena Times after boundaries and vulnerability on purpose. You will need mature boundaries and healthy vulnerability before entering weekly check-ins. Let me give you one small, yet profound piece of advice: enter the arena willing to loose. When we enter to loose, we stay humble, we show up willing to grow, and we come prepared to be curious about our partner’s pain and needs- a curiosity that is like a healing balm for any relationship. Obviously, Arena Times can be very heavy at first, especially for a relationship that has a weak infrastructure. But once your structure is solid, Arena Times will decorate your relationship with safety, honesty, and a connection that will protect the relationship even through the roughest storms.

Don’t Let This Opportunity Slip Away – Take Control of Your Relationship Today!

If you’re ready to invest in your relationship and unlock its full potential, consider working with a licensed therapist or relationship coach. Professional guidance can provide invaluable insights, tools, and support tailored to your unique circumstances.

Take action today and commit to nurturing your relationship. Your future self will thank you for prioritizing this essential aspect of your life. Connect with us to schedule a consultation and embark on a journey towards a more fulfilling, emotionally connected partnership.

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Pros and Cons of Using Insurance for Mental Health Therapy 2024

Introduction

Mental health counseling can be beneficial for individuals dealing with both diagnosed mental illnesses and the normal challenges of life. Access to therapy is crucial, and one consideration is whether to use insurance to cover the costs. This article explores the pros and cons of using insurance for mental health therapy, aiming to help individuals make informed decisions about their mental health care.

Pros of Using Insurance to Pay for Mental Health Therapy:

  1. Reduced Out-of-Pocket Costs:
    • If your insurance plan covers behavioral health services and you’ve met your deductible, therapy may be fully covered.
    • “Parity” laws mandate equal coverage for mental health services, making therapy more accessible.
  2. Improved Consistency in Care:
    • Insurance coverage may allow for more frequent therapy sessions, fostering consistent engagement and faster progress toward goals.
  3. Payments May Help Meet Deductible:
    • Therapy costs may contribute to meeting your deductible, potentially reducing overall out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Cons of Using Insurance to Pay for Mental Health Therapy:

  1. Requirement for Diagnosis:
    • Insurance requires therapists to provide a mental health diagnosis, potentially leading to unnecessary labeling and long-term consequences.
    • Some individuals seeking therapy for life challenges may not meet diagnostic criteria.
  2. Loss of Confidentiality and Access to Benefits:
    • A mental health diagnosis on record will follow you for some time and can impact security clearance, job applications, and other life decisions.
    • Obtaining life or disability insurance may become challenging and expensive with a mental health diagnosis.
    • Insurance companies own clinical documentation and notes, not the provider.
    • If you need PEP, PreP, or 211 (HIV prevention medicines) some insurance companies might consider this ‘high risk’ and may charge more or drop your policy.
  3. Control Shared with Insurance Company:
    • Insurance dictates session lengths and may limit the number of sessions, affecting the flexibility and effectiveness of treatment.
    • Insurance dictates what treatment options are allowed, restricting what modalities a queer therapist can provide to LGBTQIA+ clients
  4. Not All Treatments Covered:
    • Innovative or integrative treatments may not be covered, limiting therapy options.
  5. Difficulty Finding a Therapist:
  6. Insurance Companies Dictate Therapists’ Rates:
    • Insurance companies determine therapists’ rates, potentially impacting the quality of care provided

Another Option Besides Out-of-Pocket or Insurance Pay:

  • Seeking out-of-network reimbursements from insurance carriers for fees paid out of pocket is an alternative.
  • Clients can inquire if their insurance company provides reimbursement for services from out-of-network behavioral health professionals.

In the end, the decision to use insurance for mental health therapy is personal and depends on individual preferences, financial situations, and benefits. While insurance can reduce costs, it comes with potential drawbacks, such as loss of confidentiality and limitations on treatment options. The most important consideration is prioritizing mental health support and treatment. Therapy is an investment in oneself, and navigating challenges presented by insurance is worth the long-term benefits of a healthy mind and life. Individuals unsure about the best option are encouraged to consult with a therapist to make an informed decision tailored to their needs.

Pros and cons of using insurance for therapy

Do we accept insurance? The straightforward answer is no. However, we do provide monthly Superbills for therapy clients who wish to make use of their out-of-network benefits. It’s important to note that coaching services are not covered by insurance. You may still be able to use FSA or HSA funds to cover therapy costs.

Here are several factors to consider regarding the decision not to accept insurance for therapy.

  1. Required Diagnosis:
    • Insurance companies mandate a mental health diagnosis for coverage, a practice that doesn’t always align with our approach.
  2. Loss of Privacy:
    • The exchange of payment for privacy. Insurance companies aim to contain costs through audits that assess the “medical necessity” of therapy. Opting out of insurance helps preserve client privacy, preventing external parties from having access to detailed mental health records.
  3. Loss of Agency Over Treatment:
    • Insurance providers can discontinue coverage if a request doesn’t meet their criteria for “medical necessity.” They also have the authority to limit session time, cap the number of sessions, and access detailed information from mental health records. Avoiding extensive involvement with insurance companies allows for greater protection of client confidentiality and maintains the client’s agency in treatment decisions.
  4. Time:
    • Dealing with insurance demands significant time and effort for paperwork, audits, reimbursement processes, and authorizations for treatment. This time-consuming aspect could be better spent engaging face-to-face with clients, which we find to be the most rewarding part.

Overall, the decision not to accept insurance is driven by a commitment to individualized, client-focused care that prioritizes privacy, agency, and meaningful therapeutic interactions over bureaucratic processes and potential conflicts of interest associated with insurance involvement.

Ready to prioritize your mental health? Explore your options today! Finding the right support is essential. If you have questions or need guidance, our team at iAmClinic is here to help. Contact us to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards a healthier mind and life.

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best dating apps for LGBTQ

Introduction

“Here goes nothing”, I think to myself as I once again find myself downloading the ever-daunting dating LGBTQIA+ apps that will either be a source of unparalleled happiness or spiraling doom. Dating is undeniably terrifying. The whole concept of meeting strangers and being vulnerable with them in the hopes that something comes out of that interaction, be that something a hook-up, a short or long term relationship or maybe just even a friendship, is overwhelmingly bizarre. But the potential of that “something” maybe happening is in and of itself a truly beautiful experience. 

I constantly joke around with close friends that I am ready for a relationship. I crave the emotional and physical intimacy that comes with one. My friends, being my most brutal advisors, always say the same thing, “Derek saying you want a relationship is worthless if you don’t put yourself out there. In order to find a relationship, you need to well, date.” And running the risk of inflating my friends’ egos, they’re right. The only way to find someone, is by going out to the battlefield we call a “dating pool” (my body convulsed a bit just thinking about it haha). With the diverse options available in dating pools, they are definitely a hit or miss, especially for the LGBTQIA+ communities. Our dating pools are drastically limited and difficult to traverse. That is not to say that dating is impossible, just that we have to work a little harder than other communities. Thankfully, (or grudgingly), accessing LGBTQIA+ friendly dating pools has been made easier by online dating. We can carry the entirety of our dating pools on our phones. The real question now is, which of the innumerable dating apps is the best one? The answer is, it depends.

Dating is defined differently by everyone. Some people define dating as the traditional going out on dinner dates and movies etc, while others define dating as meeting people to just hook-up. However you define dating or whatever your end goal with dating is, trust me there is an app for you. Channeling my inner Renee Rapp, “in the interest of time and you having a good and fun time” dating, I compiled a few gay dating apps and I divided them by target audiences and the different styles of dating. I will also give out some free and “unsolicited” advice on dating.

Gay dating apps

Dating Tips:

  1. Be upfront about your intentions! Whether you want a long term relationship or just a one night stand or a “friends with benefits”, communicate that to the person you match with. If you’re both on the same page, the interaction will flow much better. Reciprocity is key! If you’re not on the same page, ask yourselves if a compromise is possible and what it would look like. If not, then move on to the next match (you’ll find someone who wants the same thing as you, trust me) and in doing so you avoid hurting others and yourself.
  2. Dating is scary. For many, dating is the monster under the bed. Whether a casual or a long term relationship, reflect on any fears, obstacles or trauma wounds that might resurface and block relationships, result in the infamous act of “ghosting” and/or an impromptu trip to your therapist.  Identify hard limits and establish healthy boundaries from the beginning. 
  3. Heal, Heal, heal! We’ve all been hurt and failed before one way or another which is unfortunate. We may struggle with trust and love as a result of this but we have all the tools needed to overcome adversity.

App Breakdown:

  1. Grindr:
    1. Population: Gay, bi, trans & queer people
    2. Purpose: Casual hook-ups but relationships are a possibility , although a rare one.
  2. HER:
    1. Population: Lesbian, bi & queer femmes
    2. Purpose: Dating but lowkey also a social app sort of like X.
  3. Scruff:
    1. Population: Gay, bi, trans queer men
    2. Purpose: Dating relationships, apparently one of the safest LGBTQIA+ dating apps so kudos to them!
  4. Taimi:
    1. Population: Inclusive for all groups of the LGBTQIA+ communities 
    2. Purpose: Flexible and inclusive dating and sexual interactions
  5. Hinge:
    1. General population: General population (Best dating app statistically for meaningful connection) 
    2. Purpose: Content curated directly for maximizing long-term dating.
  6. Tinder (Honorary mention):
    1. Population: LGBTQ+ friendly but not necessarily its target population.
  7. Sniffies:
    1. Population: Gay, bisexual and bicurious men.
    2. Purpose: Anonymous brief sexual meet-ups. 
  8. Feeld:
    1. Population: Kink friendly and open-minded individuals.
    2. Purpose: Facilitates communication between people interested in ethical non-monogamy, polyamory, casual sex, kink, swinging, and other alternative relationship models and sexual preferences.

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