Gay and Lesbian Concerns

Although the specialty areas I have listed under Psychotherapy apply to gay and lesbian clients as well, I believe it's important to describe some areas with more specificity because they have a significant impact on our lives as gays or lesbians.

My Experience

I am a gay psychologist who is part of and serves the gay community. I address issues regarding sexual orientation competently and compassionately in individual and couples therapy, as well as in workshops.

As an undergraduate, I participated in AIDS-prevention outreach activities and was a volunteer peer-counselor for the Gay Men's Counseling Collective. Also as an undergraduate, I co-founded the gay and lesbian student union and was active in building student awareness of gay and lesbian concerns.

As a professional, I've volunteered my time as an addiction counselor for gay and lesbian drug and alcohol recovery programs. I have provided services in a number of gay and lesbian settings, including the San Diego Gay and Lesbian Center and the San Francisco-based New Leaf Services, including HIV/AIDS, individual, and couples counseling.

You can read more about my experience here: Curriculum vitae [.pdf].

Education and Research

My education and training includes work with gay and lesbian individuals and couples in a variety of treatment settings, group therapy with HIV+ men, brief bereavement counseling for gay men with AIDS, work with gay and lesbian clients in recovery programs, and internships in gay and lesbian mental health agencies.

My doctoral dissertation research examined the impact of internalized homophobia (shame and self-loathing associated with being gay) on stopping drinking among gay male alcoholics trying to quit.

My dissertation is available here: Dissertation [.pdf]

Coming Out
Coming Out

Coming out is a complicated process that involves your awareness and acknowledgment of homosexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

For some people, coming out includes public identification as a gay, lesbian, or bisexual person.

Various factors will affect the positive or negative meaning that you place on your identity that emerges from the coming out process.

Coming out often means you must reclaim disowned or devalued parts of yourself.

Coming out is an individual process that must progress according to your own needs, values, and timeline.

The societal pressure to be heterosexual, homophobia, can be internalized and lead to a basic mistrust or hatred for your sexual or interpersonal identity as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

Treatment and Outcomes

Therapy is a safe, nonjudgmental place to explore issues related to your identity and sexual orientation.

The lessons learned and issues explored in therapy can help you navigate the complicated, heterosexist landscape in which we live.

Shame and Self-Hatred
(Internalized Homophobia)
Gay Psychotherapy

Internalized homophobia refers to feelings of shame, self-loathing, or self-hatred because you are gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

How does this happen? Society teaches us that homosexuality is "wrong" or "sinful" long before we ever discover that we might be homosexual.

When we discover that we might be homosexual, we unknowingly activate the learned hatred for homosexuals against ourselves.

Self-loathing can manifest itself in many ways, including risky and/or self-defeating behaviors of all kinds.

Treatment and Outcomes

Working through difficult feelings about your sexual orientation is a normal, developmental process.

I help people work through their shame and self-hatred to develop healthier self-images and feel more positive, free, and confident in all areas life.

Growing Older Gracefully
Growing Older Gracefully

Our society and our sub-culture are so youth-focused that we can feel useless or unwanted as we grow older.

There are many negative stereotypes about gay and lesbian life after 40, and there are times when it may feel like your own community has disowned you.

Happily, there is a growing body of research that shows gay and lesbian people aging gracefully, living freer lives, and enjoying their relationships.

Researchers theorize that the "coming out" process has taught us to adapt well to difficult circumstances, and that we actually adapt better to aging.

Learn how to leverage your adaptability and age well.

Treatment and Outcomes

I can help you cope successfully with the challenges of aging gracefully as a gay or lesbian by helping you to change patterns to take charge of your life, resolve difficulties in relationships, communicate more effectively, learn to open yourself to others, develop attainable goals, and renew your confidence so that life can once again be yours.

Spirituality and Spiritual Development
Gay Psychotherapy

Spiritual questions are significant for gay and lesbian people because we have most often grown up with an organized religious faith that rejects us and our lifestyles. Some of us link religion with spirituality, and reject the lot.

Those in recovery know the difficulties of Step 2, where you must come to believe in a higher power - a higher power that doesn't seem to take much care of you.

What is a mature sense of spirituality?

I define it as a kind of self-transcendence where individuals develop the ability to go beyond themselves in truthful knowledge, free commitment, and loving relationship to others, both human and Divine.

Whether you are newly seeking a spiritual path, or are seeking a renewal of your spiritual self, psychotherapy can help.

Treatment and Outcomes

Each of us has our own spiritual quest, a journey that can also be a developmental process.

An active spiritual life can bring new levels of satisfaction and fulfillment to our daily experience.

Wherever you may be on your spiritual journey, from beginning to explore what spirituality means to you, to integrating a lifetime of knowledge and experience, therapy can help.

I help people explore their spiritual questions to develop a healthy and meaningful spiritual life that nourishes and enriches them.

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Other Issues

If you have a problem or concern that is not listed here, please contact me to discuss how I may be of service.

I've tried to highlight some of the most common problems that people encounter, but this list is by no means comprehensive!