Depression is a psychological condition that changes how you think and feel, and also affects your social behavior and sense of physical well-being. We have all felt sad at one time or another, but that is not depression. Sometimes we feel tired from working hard, or discouraged when faced with serious problems. This too, is not depression. These feelings usually pass within a few days or weeks, once we adjust to the stress. But, if these feelings linger, intensify, and begin to interfere with work, school or family responsibilities, it may be depression. Research shows that counseling is an effective treatment, usually more so than medications alone and tends to be longer lasting.
Everyone feels anxious and under stress from time-to-time. Situations such as meeting tight deadlines, important social obligations or driving in heavy traffic, often bring about anxious feelings. Such mild anxiety may help make you alert and focused on facing threatening or challenging circumstances. On the other hand, anxiety disorders cause severe distress over a period of time and can disrupt your life. If left untreated, anxiety disorders can have severe consequences. For example, some people who suffer from recurring panic attacks may avoid situations they fear may trigger another panic attack. Such avoidance behavior may create problems by conflicting with job requirements, family obligations or other basic activities of daily living. But fortunately, with proper and effective treatment, people suffering from anxiety disorders can lead normal lives.
Relationship counseling helps families and couples, married or not, straight or gay, understand and resolve conflicts. Clients are given tools to communicate better, negotiate differences, problem-solve and even argue in a healthier way. Sometimes the process is very similar to individual psychotherapy, sometimes it is more like mediation, and sometimes it is educational. The combination of these three components is what makes it most effective.
Most gay clients seek counseling for problems that do not have to do with their sexual orientation, yet being gay may have a large impact on the “mainstream” life issues they are facing. For example, deciding whether and when to start a family is a dilemma many couples (and singles) face; yet the issues involved in having children are obviously much more complex for gay and lesbian clients. Sexuality may also influence problems all people share, like depression or anxiety, in specific ways--dealing with prejudice, coming out to one's family, and sorting out an “authentic” sense-of-self in the face of social expectations and pressures. It is important to find a therapist that understands and is comfortable with dealing with such issues.
The concept of the two-gender or binary system is confining and simplistic, as many individuals fall somewhere in between the polarities. Many gender nonconforming clients come for counseling to explore their own thoughts and feelings about their identities. Family members and significant others are often a critical part of the process and may be included in sessions. Counseling can help clients untangle the complex factors that go into determining where they may be at any point on the gender spectrum. For clients who want to transition, the WPATH Standards of Care are followed, and treatment is coordinated with other medical professionals to help them move forward in their journey.