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Sexual Orientation

Jareena Silva

What is sexual orientation?

Sexual orientation is an individual's romantic, emotional and/or sexual attraction to another person. A person may identify as gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, pansexual, or asexual. 

The term gay is an adjective used to describe people who are romantically, emotionally, spiritually, and/or physically attracted to someone of the same gender. Historically, this term was used to refer to men who were attracted to men, but it is now used by people of any gender who are attracted to the same gender. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide which term best fits them.

Additionally, to clarify, sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same. As mentioned, sexual orientation is an individual’s romantic, emotional, and/or sexual attraction to another person. However, gender identity is one's sense of self as male, female, a combination of both, or neither is their gender identity, and this can be distinct from the sex they were assigned at birth. How people view themselves and the label they give themselves is determined by their innermost concept of self.

Is sexual orientation important when finding a therapist?

Navigating the mental health system can be especially challenging for the LGBTQIA+ community. Many people are uncertain about whether it is necessary for their therapist to share their identity, or if their therapist will encourage them to come out if they have not already done so. It can also be difficult to know what questions to ask during the phone consultation or first appointment.

Similar to BIPOC individuals seeking care, finding a provider that is culturally competent is important. A provider that similarly identifies as you can be helpful in your care as you may feel more comfortable in sessions and are able to relate on similar lived experiences.

Benefits of working with a therapist of a similar sexual orientation

​​The different ways we identify plays a significant role in our mental health and overall well-being. Therefore, as mentioned before, it can be important to work with a provider that identifies similarly as you. 

If you wish to discuss personal experiences related to your sexuality, it could be beneficial to work with a therapist of the same orientation. Many individuals find that they are more comfortable and trust such a provider more, thus benefiting more from their therapy sessions. 

This is because they can provide a unique perspective and expertise on the matter that other therapists may not have. On the other hand, there are also therapists who have experience providing support to a variety of diverse identity groups and may be able to give appropriate assistance.

However, it is essential to take into consideration the qualifications and training of your therapist as this may be more significant than their own identity. Even if they are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, it may not mean they will fully understand your life experience and the impact your identity has on you.

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Sexual Orientation


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About the Author

Jareena is MyWellbeing's Community Manager and is dedicated to supporting MyWellbeing's providers in order for them to offer the best possible care for you. Jareena is a mental health advocate and aims to identify ways to destigmatize discussions around mental health and how to make care more accessible.