We are all individuals living in a world that bares influence on our sense of individuality. Our sexuality is an individual and a hugely significant part of who we are and it informs how we relate to others. Our sexual orientation is a part of our sexuality, alongside our gender, and biological and physiological reproductive systems. Our sexual orientation is not necessarily a result of conscious choice and there is debate around finding a 'single' cause, of which there has been no success.
Sexuality is subjective, multifaceted and unique. The media, family norms, socio-cultural norms, heteronormativity, religion etc. can all have an impact on our ability to be authentic, affecting our sense of self. It is OK to make decisions on the way you feel inside. It is OK to be different from others expectations. Coming out can be full of pitfalls, provoking anxiety and influencing an individual's mental well-being. In this vein, up against these influences on our sexualities, they link into our self-esteem, self-confidence, identity and affect our mental well-being. Your sexuality is not about whom you have sex with, more rather the sexual thoughts and feelings of attraction you have towards others.
The perceived fear of prejudice and discrimination and the experiences that may validate this, limit an individuals ability to feel accepted, to feel respected, safe, secure and validated. Sexuality can be confusing and whilst many may feel they know of their sexual orientation in early adolescence, even late childhood, many do not find what fits for them until later in adulthood.
Seeking authenticity and acceptance, what feels right and fits for another person may not feel and fit the same way for other individuals. We should be respectful and positive about peoples sexuality and sexual relationships, supporting an individuals right to explore and express their sexualities in a safe consensual, responsible way.
Your sexuality may be confusing for you, you may wish to understand your own thoughts and feelings, you may wish to explore others responses, or how you imagine others may perceive you. You may want to figure out a way forward, you may be wanting to come out, find additional support, you may be feeling anxious, have low self-esteem or lack in self-confidence. It can help to have somebody listen, accept and respect your individuality. Providing you with a safe, encouraging space in which you can be 'authentic' and explore whatever it is you need to and in whatever way is necessary for you. In order that you find ways of being that fit with your own intrinsic being, in order that you lead a fulfilling life.
Counselling offers a space to explore the many facets of our experience in an environment without judgement, an opportunity to build and maintain a safe and trusting, empathic relationship. One which celebrates individual difference and diversity. A relationship which is an explorative and reflective opportunity. So that you can move forward in whatever way you choose. Exploring those influences that hinder or support you, and your feelings, reactions and responses to them. Whilst validating your own resources and sense of self and a relationship which promotes individual choice and autonomy.
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About Justin Lee Slaughter
I have a varied range of experience, a background in counselling and psychotherapy, social science and in healthcare with a broad range of experience in both adult and adolescent mental health. I manage a small private counselling practice as well as currently volunteering as part of a counselling team at THT Brighton and Hove.