Sunday, November 27, 2016

LGBTQ Support during the Holiday Season

by Stacey Vinci

The holiday season can hold high expectations for love, laughter, joy, celebration, and connection among friends and family. However for some (or many) of us, the holiday season can also bring up pain, discomfort, stress, family tension and conflict, and feelings of depression and anxiety. With this mix of expectations and real experiences, the holidays can require a significant amount of energy and can result in some serious introspection as we process all of the personal and family issues this season can evoke. For folks in the LGBTQ community, particularly youth, there is another level of complexity. Often these teens can struggle with issues surrounding self-identity; particularly the lack of freedom and support from friends and family in expressing their true and genuine self and the extra added pressure and fear of judgement and non-acceptance from extended family. In the coming weeks, as we all begin to engage in the celebration and joy of the holiday season, let’s also keep in mind those who are struggling, especially those whose internal struggles may not always be visible on the outside. Providing support and encouragement to LGBTQ youth is especially important during this time.

Here are some quick tips for parents of LGBTQ youth:

1.     If you think your child may be experiencing issues with gender identity or sexual orientation, the most important first step is to create an open, safe, and trusting place for communication and support.
2.     Be mindful of signs that your teen is especially struggling during this holiday time:
a.     Changes in eating/sleeping patterns
b.     Withdrawal from friends/family
c.     Changes in mood/affect (sadness, anger, irritability)
3.     Put in place the professional support system that you and your child/family will need during this time. By contacting a therapist or counselor specializing in this area, you now have a built-in system of support, resources, and guidance through each step of your child’s process in achieving a positive identity and increased support, comfort and engagement throughout the holiday season.
For more information on individual/group openings or alternate resources to help support you and child through the holiday season, contact Stacey at or 267-989-9113.

Stacey M. Vinci, M.A., LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist working with teens and their families struggling with anxiety, depression, and trauma-related issues. She also specializes in working with youth in the LGBTQ community, particularly teens identifying as gender non-conforming or transgender. Stacey’s weekly LGBTQ Teen Therapy Group is currently accepting new members.

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