The Department of M.Sc. Counselling School of Social Work (Autonomous) Roshni Nilaya Mangalore, hosted a national webinar on Effective Practices of Counselling for Sexual and Gender Minorities on 6th February, 2024. There were 75 participants from various states of India. We live in a world that is heterosexually constructed; we assume everyone to be heterosexual and there is no visibility to any other form of sexuality including same sex sexual desires. As a result, clients who are gay, lesbian or bisexual (GLB) may come into counselling sessions with a range of unique stressors and issues that may need to be addressed in a manner that affirms their sexuality. Affirming their sexuality becomes vital on the backdrop of a systemic culture of silence and shame about being GLB and a lifetime of experiences of dealing with homonegativity, prejudice and ignorance. We know that there are many mental health professionals, trained under the traditional paradigms, who continue to stigmatize these individuals. Hence there is a need to stop such discrimination in counselling practice and sensitize and train all providers to adopt an affirmative stance. Considering this context, the objective of this two-hour virtual session was to impart knowledge and skills into the application of therapeutic techniques in counselling sexual and gender minorities to clinical and mental health professionals and post graduate students in their clinical practices. The facilitator of the session was Dr. Samhita Barooah, Assistant professor at Tezpur University, Assam. Ms. Pavithra A, student of the 1st MSc Counselling welcomed the gathering and the resource person.
The session highlighted on the unique stressors experience by sexual and gender minorities and the queer affirmative counselling practices, an inclusive approach in counselling service. Dr. Barooah emphasized on the use of non-judgmental attitude, respecting and understanding their individual experiences, and helping the client to solve their confusion by motivating them to learn more about themselves; very vital to support and help them live in the society. The session was very beneficial as it helped us to get more information about how to deal with queer and LGBTQ+. Furthermore, the resource person spoke about her own life experiences which helped us to gain a profound understanding of the prejudice, stigma and discrimination against a minority group and often times these stressors stem from social structures that are beyond individual control.
The session concluded with vote of thanks proposed by Ms. Precella the class representative of the 2nd MSc Counselling. The session was greatly appreciated by the participants and many expressed it as a remarkable learning experience coupled with an opportunity to overcome inhibitions and unrealistic fears often considered as taboo to deal with.
Reported by: Ifrath Banu (1st M.Sc. Counselling)