Let’s Talk Pride

As a cisgender, heterosexual female, I cannot relate to and/or understand what it feels like to grow up in a world where I am not accepted and granted basic human rights because I do not meet expectations to love and live my life in a way that has been outlined for me, by my family and/or society.  Though I am not a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I am an ally–which means I support equal civil rights, gender equality, and social movements; I love people for who they are…not for who I think they should love or how they should live their lives and express themselves.  After listening to Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Born This Way by Lady Gaga AND in celebration of Pride Month, I figured it would only be appropriate to talk about the history of Pride and what it means for so many people.

What is Pride?

According to a quick Google search, the word “pride” is defined as, “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired”.  While pride within the LGBTQ+ community means something different for each and every person, it generally relates to the general definition of “pride” in some way.  The following are just a few examples of what pride may mean to someone:

  • Love
  • Freedom
  • Visibility
  • Community
  • A celebration of diversity and authenticity
  • Equality
  • Support
The History of Pride

The LGBTQ+ community has been marginalized and discriminated against for many years.  As a result of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, etc., people were faced with acts of discrimination, violence, brutality, and have been treated as less-than-human because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression.  The history of pride and pride-related events are tied to political activism and protests. On June 28, 1969, a riot broke out at The Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village in New York. Police had been known to raid The Stonewall Inn from time to time, which they did that night.  However, on that particular evening, patrons fought back, which resulted in a 3-day riot and protest against police discrimination that ignited the beginning of the LGBTQ+ movement.

One year later, in June 1970, the first gay pride event, called the Christopher Street Liberation Day (CSLD) March was organized to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots.  During this event, participants were seen holding signs and banners demanding equal rights and protections. After this first CSLD March in New York, commemorative marches in other big cities, such as Los Angeles, began to occur.  Chants such as “Say it clear, say it loud.  Gay is good, gay is proud” could be heard.  It wasn’t until the early 1990’s that Pride began to resemble what it is today: a celebration of LGBTQ+ life and sexuality in addition to a political and social demonstration.

How to Celebrate Pride

Ultimately, there isn’t ONE single way to celebrate Pride.  The following are different ways to celebrate…there isn’t a right or wrong way.

  • Be an activist and ally
    • Organizations such as Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation  (GLAAD) is a great resource for anyone and everyone.  GLAAD recommends being a listener, being aware of your own biases and assumptions, and not making derogatory comments or anti-LGBTQ+ jokes.
  • Create artwork with rainbows on it
    • The original flag had 8 colors–they all had a symbolic meaning (e.g.: sex, life, healing, sunlight, nature, magic, peace, and spirit), however, since 1979, the flag has had 6 colors on it.  It has been modified at different places at different times for more inclusion (e.g.: racial inclusivity and AIDs awareness).
    • Also, it is important to note that the rainbow flag is a common representation of LGBTQ+ pride, however, there are flags specifically for transgender pride, bisexual pride, and more.
  • Teach children love & acceptance
    • A main component of celebrating Pride includes setting the example of love & acceptance of everyone.  Have age-appropriate conversations with children about: inclusiveness, identity, and love.
  • Learn about LGBTQ+ Leaders in History
    • Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, Barbara Gittings, and Harvey Milk are just a few people you can start with.
  • Attend a City-Wide Pride Event
    • Whether it’s a festival or a march (or something in between), attending a pride event is a great way to show your support during Pride month.
  • Wear Inclusive Clothing  
    • Whether you’re wearing No H8 clothing or any of the garb from HRC, there are many options for inclusive clothing to purchase!
  • Host a Pride Movie Night
    • Different movies to watch include, but are not limited to: “Milk,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” and “Love, Simon”.  These films are not just entertaining & interesting to watch; they also educate viewers about the struggles people in the LGBTQ+ community face.
  • Read LGBTQ+ Literature
    • There are MANY LGBTQ+ books to choose from.  Whether you’re going to your local library or stocking up on books from Amazon, check out the following books/authors.  (Note: some books below are LGBTQ+ themed and some are written by LGBTQ+ authors).
      • Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
      • Eleanor and Hick by Susan Quinn
      • On Being Different by Merle Miller
      • Take Me With You by Andrea Gibson
      • Stung with Love by Sappho
      • Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt

Ultimately, it’s about accepting and loving LGBTQ+ friends and family.  Earlier I said there isn’t a right or wrong way to celebrate Pride…and while that is correct, if there is only one that you choose to do, this would be it.  Make sure your friends and family know that your love and support is unconditional, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. For anyone who needs additional resources to love and accept others,  Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is a great place to start.

Wishing everyone a Happy Pride!

Julie Burke

By: Julie Burke, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Susan Gonzalez, LPC-S, LMFT-S


Counseling 101: Part Two

In my initial blog about counseling, titled Counseling 101: Questions You Want Answered…But May be Afraid to Ask, I answer various questions, including:

  • What is counseling?
  • Why do people go to counseling?
  • Can I go if I don’t have a problem?
  • How long should I go?
  • What are the benefits?

While there will certainly be some overlap between the two posts, the intention of this blog is to delve deeper into the world of counseling and to give more insight and answer more questions that people may have.

What is Counseling?  

While counseling looks different (based on the type of counseling you go to–see question below), it is a collaborative effort between a counselor and client.  People who seek counseling do so for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to: seeking guidance for challenging situations (both past and present), improve communication skills and coping skills, increase self-esteem, and promote self-awareness and optimal mental health.

Types of Counseling  
  • Individual counseling is personal opportunity to receive support and experience growth during challenging times in life, although you don’t have to be experiencing something challenging to go to counseling.
    • Individual therapy is a great resource for anyone ages 3+.  Yes–you read that right. Children as young as 3 can be in counseling.  Check out more about play therapy.  Many adolescents and adults are in individual therapy, too.  Personal topics that might be addressed include: depression, anxiety, relationship challenges, parenting problems, school difficulties, etc.  There is no right/wrong reason for seeking individual therapy.
  • Couples counseling…because relationships can be (and often are) tough!
    • Couples counseling can include the following (and then some): premarital counseling, assistance with communication, re-connection, discernment, etc.
  • Family counseling often helps families navigate life changes or stress that is negatively impacting family closeness, family structure (rules and roles), and/or communication.
    • While each family therapy session will be different, sometimes it is best practice for all family members to meet together for sessions; sometimes it will be best to meet with family members individually first, though, to make sure family therapy sessions are effective.  It all varies from family-to-family and session-to-session.
  • Group counseling allows participants to be in a group (with an overarching theme) and helps people find connection with others in their particular life challenge(s).
    • Common group topics might include: anger management, self-esteem, recovery, trauma, etc.  No group is the same.
What About My Therapist?  

Finding the right therapist is KEY–it’s all about finding someone who is a right fit.  Different things people often find important when seeking a therapist include:

  • Therapist Demographics
    • Age, Gender, Culture/Ethnicity, etc.
  • Style of therapy
  • Specialties
  • Background information

What happens if you see a therapist and something just feels off?  This is a great opportunity to advocate for yourself and tell the therapist that something just didn’t feel like the right fit.  This is about YOU (not them). They won’t be offended by it…and chances are, they’ll have some recommendations for you for other clinicians to reach out to.  Hopefully with some research of your own, though, you’ll find someone that you will click with.

What do all those letters mean?  

Licensed Professional Counselor

  • LPC-S
    • If someone has this license, they are licensed as a supervisor and will have interns (see below) work with them throughout their licensure process.
  • LPC
  • LPC-Intern
    • If someone has this license, it does not mean they are an intern (in the general sense we think of interns).  People with the LPC-I licensure are provisionally licensed and are working under a supervisor (an LPC-S) towards full licensure.

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

  • LMFT-S
    • If someone has this license, they are licensed as a supervisor and will have associates (see below) work with them throughout their licensure process.
  • LMFT
  • LMFT-A
    • If someone has this license, they are a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist-Associate.  They are provisionally licensed and are working under a supervisor (an LMFT-S) towards full licensure.

Social Workers

  • LCSW-S
    • If someone has this license, they are a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and will have LMSWs (see below) work with them throughout their licensure process.
  • LCSW
  • LMSW
    • If someone has this license, they are a Licensed Master Social Worker.  They are working under a supervisor (an LCSW-S) towards full licensure.

At the end of the day, the difference in these licensures is a result of different master’s programs and classes taken.

A Little About Logistics

Generally counseling sessions last 50 minutes long (although, if needed, you can book an 80 minute session).  When you are beginning counseling, it is best to go on a weekly basis until you and your counselor agree that less sessions are needed.  Think of counseling like going to the gym–consistency is key! In order to see results from exercising, you must go regularly. Counseling is no different.  Additionally, I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked “How long will this take?” or “How many sessions is normal?”  Unfortunately, that’s a question with no concrete answer.  I will say, however, if you seek counseling and believe, “Oh, I’ll just go for a month and things will be resolved by then”…chances are, you’re probably wrong.

Let’s Talk Fees

There are two main options when it comes to paying for therapy.  Austin Family Counseling is a private-pay only counseling office so I’m biased towards private pay, however, I think it’s only fair to list pros and cons of each.

Private Pay

  • Pros
    • There is an unlimited number of sessions you can book with you and your therapist.  This ultimately leads to more flexibility when booking sessions, too.
    • Things truly stay between you and your therapist (with a few limits of confidentiality–should those situations arise–if you have questions about this, feel free to ask!)
    • You do not have to be given a diagnosis.
  • Cons
    • Going to therapy weekly and paying someone’s full fee is expensive.

Insurance

  • Pros
    • Using insurance is more affordable.
  • Cons
      • When a clinician uses your insurance to pay for therapy, you are required to be given a diagnosis–this justifies your reason for services and often dictates the number of sessions you are allowed to have.
      • Insurance coverage may change and you are not notified–so while you have great mental health coverage now, it may not always be the case.
      • Earlier I mentioned the importance and value of finding a therapist that you click with–it is not uncommon for therapists to eventually stop using insurance.
      • Certain types of therapy may not be covered by your insurance provider/plan.

 

Ultimately, counseling can be expensive–it is an investment, after all, but when it is something that promotes self-growth and connection, it is certainly worth it.  If you find a therapist you think would be a great fit, however, they do not accept your insurance or you cannot afford their fee, ask them if they are able to provide fees at a sliding scale.  They may not be able to accommodate that (so know that going in), but it never hurts to ask. Additionally, another potential option is using a superbill. If you have insurance and your provider will honor superbills, they allow you to be partially (or even fully) reimbursed for counseling sessions.  You must pay for the session in full initially, but there is potential for reimbursement–you must call your provider to see if they will honor superbills, though.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments–reach out!  I would love to hear from you.

By: Julie Burke, LPC-Intern
Susan Gonzales, LPC-S

 

 

 


Family Connection

Today the average family is busier than ever before. There are conference calls, soccer practice, gymnastics, work, school and tons of others. Many families eat dinner on the fly. Breakfast is something popped into the microwave and then run out the door. Electronics tend to be in use most of the day in some way or another. With such busy schedules I am not suggesting you must sit at the table every night and have a home cooked meal and sit together to talk. Parents and children rarely have time for that. What I am suggesting is that one evening, afternoon or breakfast a week is set aside for family members to sit and talk. So much can be achieved for the family by doing this. Family time also adds other benefits to family members.

First, family time helps to build strong bonds between family members.

Family members need contact with each other. It helps to form more secure children who grow up to be more mature adults. Having that contact between individuals also allows for sharing. Do you remember 20 to 30 years ago having family meal or family night was a normal part of being in a family? There would possibly be a special meal, play a game or watch a movie. Family night might not have always worked for all kids (teens tend to balk at family night at some point). But family night also added to the security that the parents cared and siblings wanted to play and hang out with you.

Second, family time creates stability and safety in the family.

Spending time together helps children to feel safer and more stable. Children get to connect on a more personal level when all members of the family are together in one place. So many skills can be strengthened during family time. Children can work on coping skills, communication skills, and regulation (learning to manage their emotions). Through listening to others talk, children can learn patience, manners and learn to empathize with the other family members. Children can become aware of the issues that might be happening to the family. Regular family night helps with the schedule; children know it is coming usually on the same night each week.

Third, family time can help parents know what is going on with their children.

Sitting with your children, when you get a chance, and taking the time to listen to what your child can say can be revealing. We often move so fast today that we miss those opportunities to really engage with our children on a different level. When was the last time you could just sit and talk to your child and be easy with it. You don’t have the concerns of making dinner, picking up a kid, chores, telecommuting. It takes time to sit with your child. If it is scheduled weekly, then your child knows she/he has a special time each week. I encourage parents to make time for each child one on one. Have this time be regular in the family, barring injury or illness, and do not schedule other things at the same time. Keep this time sacred to the family. This can be very hard to do in the beginning. The average family has such a huge schedule and obligations picking a time each week that when the family can come together can be challenging.

I often describe electronics and kids as an addiction.The more children stay on electronics (phones, iPod, kindles, iPad, etc.) the more that they want. Electronics has affected the way children learn, interact and create social networks. Kids can be friends with someone they don’t even know from across the country (don’t get me started on the dangers of electronics as that is a topic for a different blog). It is hard for many parents to get their kids “unplugged” during the day. It can be even harder to keep the children off the electronics. One thing to think about when your child spends a lot of time on electronics is, is your child getting rewarded in their rewards center in the brain? With all the pictures, games and videos children don’t need to work for anything. It is continually downloaded to their brains.

Have you ever had the problem of trying to get your kid off his electronics and find that he/she behaves poorly, making inappropriate statements, having trouble controlling the feelings, and in general not interested in what you need from them? This is all due to the reward center issue. On the electronics kids don’t have to work. In the real-world kids have to engage many skills to interact with others. Speaking takes time, trying to find their place in a conversation can be hard, keeping patient can be hard. All these skills are circumvented when playing on electronics. I always encourage time during the day without electronics.

Finally, family time is a great time to catch up, update schedules, figure out what is needed for the week.

Family can schedule events for the week and work out who will go where to meet these obligations. For example, Mom is working late on Tuesday so Dad will take kids to soccer. Family time is a time to sit with your kids, talk about their week, see what successes or challenges they have had. Each child can put into the conversation so everyone learns more about each other. Children can bring concerns into the meeting as well. I encourage parents that have regular family time to put a sheet of paper on the fridge titled “Topics for Family Meeting”. Then, throughout the week issues can be listed. It gives kids a sense of additional regulation because most situations don’t need to be addressed that moment. If it is scheduled for the family time/meeting, then a child knows it will be addressed and coming back to it later gives each party a chance to calm.

Finding time to be together in a family can make a huge difference to your family. Members can feel connected to each other in a way that has not happened before. Everyone will have a chance to use their voice to express what they need. Children learn so many skills being with the whole family. Self-regulation is a huge one. Every skill children are using will relate to experiences outside the family. Knowing that there is a scheduled time to spend one on one with a parent can build a child’s self esteem. The rewards of family time will echo throughout the week. It isn’t easy to start, but once it becomes a regular thing in the family, everyone can get on board with it.

By: April Alaspa, LPC-S


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