As we enter June, the majestical colors of the rainbow begin to unfurl in many parts of the world, signifying the start of Pride Month that calls for celebration of life. This month-long celebration is an affirmation of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, inter-sex (LGBTQI+) community’s resilience, courage, and diversity. The month also serves as a reminder of the struggles for freedom, liberation and human dignity for all those who non-confirm to a binary sexual identity.
Let us take this opportunity to celebrate and explore the complexities of human identity and self-expression.
Depth Psychotherapeutic View of Identity
Depth psychotherapy stems from the work of pioneers like Carl G. Jung, Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler. This approach explores the deeper layers of the personal and collective unconscious, seeking to understand the person as a whole, including his/her/their needs for relatedness, personality typology, complex personalities, cultural and ethnic lived experiences, traumas, dreams, goals. It also encourages the exploration of one’s “shadow personality,” those parts of us that are hidden, repressed, denied, or considered unacceptable.
For individuals identifying as LGBTQI+, engaging in self-exploration can be especially significant for maintaining a healthy and balanced personality. The self-exploration journey towards self-acceptance and individuation may often entail negotiating societal prejudices, internalized stigma, self hatred, and the challenge of finding one’s place in the world. In these circumstances, depth psychotherapy can provide a secured space to explore deeper aspects of the self, bringing light and consciousness to the darkness, strangeness and split off parts of the personality. A depth psychotherapeutic approach with roots in relational traditions can be a facilitator and container for self-discovery, emotional health and healing.
The Importance of Self-Acceptance
An essential component of depth psychotherapeutic work involves mirroring and accepting oneself. Here, self-acceptance includes all the diverse aspects of our identity. Self-acceptance is one of the cornerstones of a healthy personality, and it is incredibly important and relevant during this month of Pride. As a society, there is inherent value in recognizing the dignity and worth of every human being, showing appreciation for the efforts it takes to live authentically. Pride is a time for the LGBTQI+ community to celebrate who you are and whom you love without fear of harm or imprisonment, guilt or shame.
In my practice as a depth psychotherapist, I often find that members of the LGBTQI+ community may struggle with self-acceptance, internalized societal prejudices, resulting in alienation, self-hated, self-denial, experienced rejection or trauma. However, addressing these issues in a respectful, mirroring, and non-judgemental way reduces levels of anxiety, depression and leads to self-acceptance, and self-love.
The Power of Authenticity
Pride Month emphasizes the power of living authentically. Similarly, depth psychotherapy promotes authentic living as a means to achieving a sense of wholeness. Being open about one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, despite societal norms or familiar pressures, is a courageous act of authenticity and psychological freedom.
In the safety of the therapeutic space, patients are encouraged to explore their feelings, identities, and desires freely. This exploration can empower them to live more authentically, embracing their true selves.
A Journey Towards Wholeness
Depth psychotherapy sees individuals as complexed, multi-faceted beings, some of whom are striving towards individuation and wholeness. Through introspection, self-discovery, self-awareness, and self-acceptance, depth psychotherapy provides an invaluable tool for those within the LGBTQI+ community on their paths towards understanding and accepting their identities. Depth psychotherapy supports the process of integrating aspects of oneself, including those related to sex, sexuality and gender, to create a wholesome, authentic self.
As we honor and celebrate the LGBTQI+ community this Pride Month, let us also remember to appreciate the depth and richness of every individual’s unique journey.
The path to self-discovery and acceptance may be challenging, yet it is a journey of empowerment, authenticity, and, ultimately, pride.
Happy Pride Month!