One-to-One Counselling helps 35 LGBT Individuals Overcome Bullying

The LGBT Foundation is an amazing organisation in Manchester focused on a fair and equal society where all LGBT people can achieve their potential. Through their Mental Health and Wellbeing Services they endeavour to raise awareness of the effects of bullying on people’s mental.

Part of the service offered by the LGBT Foundation is one-to-one counselling for people whose lives have been damaged through bullying. The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation is privileged to have been able to pay for 35 people to access this much-needed support. The beneficiaries engaged with the service mainly because of historic bullying, hate crime, or internal and external homophobia, biphobia or transphobia.

LGBT Foundation specialist Counsellors deliver affirmative therapy, are closely supervised and continually develop their expertise. During the period in which the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation supported the project, staff undertook refresher sessions covering clients experiencing suicidal ideation and also clients, who due to their intersectionality, were at a higher risk of experiencing bullying.

The LGBT Foundation have kindly shared two case studies with us that demonstrate their effectiveness.

Jane’s Story

Jane (not her real name) was signposted to the LGBT Foundation by her doctor when she disclosed her identity as bisexual.

Jane reported feelings of stress and anxiety, which affected her sleep and, consequently, concentration at work.

Jane disclosed that she was being ‘subtly’ and consistently bullied at work mainly due to her bisexuality. She started having anxiety about going to work and wished she’d never disclosed her sexuality. She was feeling paranoid about colleagues talking about her private life in an inappropriate way.

Her one-to-one counselling sessions explored why Jane couldn’t assert herself and ask for the ‘jokes’ to be stopped. Though she was able to fully engage during work discussions, Jane felt she wouldn’t be listened to and her low self-esteem did not enable her to validate her feelings or her needs when comments about her sexual orientation were made.

Initially, the Counsellor shared mindfulness and sleep hygiene techniques to enable Jane to sleep and rest, then worked on getting to the route of Jane’s self-esteem issues around her sexuality. These turned out to be as a result of exposure to strong biphobic views as she was growing up. In a safe space, Jane was then able to challenge these ingrained beliefs and unveil what her own beliefs on sexuality were.

As a result of the intervention, Jane’s confidence had grown and she was able to accept herself and that her needs were valid and important. Jane started to attend events run at LGBT Foundation as part of the Bi-Series, connecting with other people and feeling less alone. She also chose to speak to the HR department at her work, which resulted in her employer delivering targeted sessions on appropriate language in the workplace.

Vic’s Story

Vic (not his real name) was signposted to the LGBT Foundation by a Wellbeing Officer at his university. Vic was feeling extremely isolated since moving to Uni and had hoped to build a strong social network in Manchester. 

Vic, a trans man, had experienced bullying at school and at college due to his gender identity, including cyber-bullying by former friends. As a consequence, Vic did not feel safe and distanced himself from the few friends he had left.

Vic worked with a specialist trans identifying therapist who was able to offer LGBT affirmative therapy enabling Vic to fully explore his narrative in relation to his gender identity and accept his identity as a trans identifying individual. They explored Vic’s heightened stress levels and techniques to reduce stress. Vic was also then able to share with loved ones what he had been going through and change the belief that he was to blame for the bullying.

As a result of the intervention, Vic’s wellbeing and mental health significantly improved. Vic now engages with Trans Manchester events and has become involved with his University’s LGBT society.

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