LGBTQ+ organisation BeLonG To Youth Services have launched a pair of new therapy services aimed at queer young adults, and the parents of queer children. The initiative has been generously funded by The Community Foundation For Ireland, and the charity will partner with psychotherapist Jim Hutton to facilitate the sessions.
Hutton is qualified with an Honours Bachelor’s degree in counselling and psychotherapy. He has previously served as chairperson of the gender and sexual diversity group for the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP), and is currently a member of the IACP’s recently formed Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Participants will have access to weekly online group therapy sessions, either with other LGBTQ+ youth or parents, where they will be offered the opportunity to speak openly and freely in a safe and non-judgemental environment. The sessions encourage individual personal progress, and above all provide attendees with a confidential and trusting space to express themselves.
In June 2021, BeLonG To released findings from a survey they conducted which concluded that the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth had deteriorated significantly over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Over 2,000 queer young people participated in the study, with a staggering 97% of respondents revealing that they were struggling with anxiety, stress, or depression at the time.
Even prior to the pandemic, queer youth were at a disproportionate risk of mental health problems, being twice as likely to self-harm and three times more likely to experience suicide ideation when compared to their non-LGBTQ+ peers.
The group therapy sessions for LGBTQ+ young adults are open to those aged between 18 and 24 who are experiencing anxiety, stress, suicide ideation, bullying, self-harm, discrimination or trauma in relation to their sexuality or gender identity. The weekly meetings will be an hour-long and will take place virtually on Thursdays at 5:30PM.
Parents of LGBTQ+ youth who are struggling with emotional anxiety, stress, or trauma due to concerns they may have for their offspring’s safety, health or wellbeing as a result of sexual orientation or gender identity can also avail of the new BeLonG To group therapy service. These sessions will be 75 minutes long and take place fortnightly on Thursday evenings at 7:15PM. At present, there will be a maximum of eight clients in the parental online group.
To sign up for either therapy group, or simply to hear more information, you can contact a representative in BeLonG To either by phone on 01 670 6224, or email [email protected]. Interested and eligible parties will then be referred to Jim to confirm availability, and see if the therapy is a good match for the individual.
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