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Dear Christine, Cinderella in Clinton Township

  • Posted on November 12, 2017 at 10:40 am

Dear Christine, Sometimes I feel like Cinderella in my family. I went to college, have always been ambitious, have always been responsible. I got a great job after college working at a successful law firm, I saved enough money to buy my first house. On the other hand, my brother has accomplished nothing yet has the heart of my parents. He’s way too attractive for his own good and my parents have done nothing but coddle and support him. At a family dinner last week, my parents suggested I take on Billy when they are gone! I was too shocked to say, “oh hell no,” which Is what I was shouting in my head. I’ve always been obedient and good and never heard a word of praise from them, yet they lavish it on my lazy, live in the basement of their home brother. He’s 35 by the way. How can I stand up to them and let them know I don’t want to pick up where they left off? They are getting older and having health problems. I don’t want to be my brother’s keeper! Thanks for your thoughts, Signed Dear Cinderella, This is not a news flash for…

Dear Christine, Nervous in Novi

  • Posted on September 25, 2017 at 10:24 am

Dear Christine, Have you ever looked into another woman’s eyes and your heart began to race? Well that’s what it was like for me. First off I never intended to like girls. I wasn’t raised that way but some things changed down the line. I met this woman. She changed me just staring at me a few times. Like it’s a stare you can’t describe. You just feel your heart race and you sweat a little. So at first I didn’t know how to approach her. But I finally did, through my sister. We began to talk a lot on the phone and I began to get closer and that made me catch the feelings for her that I still have right today. She’s probably the first person I have ever taken seriously. I plan on telling her how I feel hoping she’ll understand. I know there’s not much she can do because she’s married but she can at least learn from her mistakes of leading me on. There will be those days where she will wink and touch me and smile or even interrupt whoever she’s talking to say hey to me. Then other days she’ll walk right past…

Dear Christine, Crazy in Clawson

  • Posted on September 11, 2017 at 10:23 am

Dear Christine,  My girlfriend and I have been together for a year, and maybe I moved in too fast (second date…) but I’m having a hard time with her relationships with her family. Her two daughters live with us half of the time and half with their father. I am very close to the girls and they talk with me all the time, and tell me that they love me and even come into our bedroom at night to kiss their mom goodnight, and me! My girlfriend claims she isn’t gay but just loves me, and she’s isn’t comfortable telling the girls, or anyone else in the family, that we are in love and we are a couple, and with the girls, we really are a family. Her family is involved with Christmas, and last year, we pretended I was just living there for a while, to help them out. She wants me to move out of the bedroom, so her sister and brother in law can have her bedroom when they visit for Christmas this year. That’s the living end for me! I’ve been out and proud for over 20 years, and I just feel like a maid. I’m “the help”, helping with the household, cooking, driving kids around etc, but not given the respect of being family! My girlfriend has been telling me all year that she wants to tell her family, but that she’s not ready. I’m afraid she’s never going to be ready, and I feel like I’m going crazy. Help! What do I do to not feel like a maid, but be a part of this family? Crazy in Clawson

Dear Crazy,  The holidays are such a stressful time, even without the pressures of coming out to family! Sounds like you have a very loving and good relationship with your girlfriend and her children, and that’s wonderful. Since you’ve been out forever, and she never saw herself as lesbian before, it’s really important to give her space and time to figure out how to acknowledge this relationship with her family. I would be surprised if the kids haven’t figured out that the two of you are a couple, saying good night to both of you in your bedroom! Kids are pretty sophisticated and aware these days. They may not know the labels, but clearly they feel connected to you, and treat you like family, not a maid.

I’m not recommending you move out of the bedroom for visitors, as I don’t recommend a couple in their own home give up their private space to others. One example of why, is the story I heard recently. A man stayed overnight at a friend’s house, and she let him use her bedroom. He opened a bedside drawer, looking for a clock, and he found some handcuffs! Clearly, she hadn’t expected him to go in the drawer! He found it very embarrassing to see her the next morning, thinking “Good morning Mrs. Handcuffs” but trying to keep cool and be appropriate. When he thinks of that friend, the handcuffs are the first thing that comes to mind. So, keeping your privacy is important, both yours and your girlfriend’s. Keep talking with your girlfriend about her process, but back off of any ultimatums. Listen to her thoughts and feelings, and trust the love that you and she and her children share. Love conquers fear, always. Trust your girlfriend’s process and hopefully she will tell her family directly, soon.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Dressed in Dearborn

  • Posted on August 14, 2017 at 9:27 am

Dear Christine,  I’m a straight male, and I like dressing up. I’ve always been into fashion, and my brother and cousin are gay, and I’m an LGBT advocate. Still it bothers me to be called something I’m not: gay. How do I get my classmates, gay and straight, to stop bullying me at school, who assume that I’m gay just because of the way I dress. There’s nothing wrong with being gay, it’s just that I’m not gay! Dressed in Dearborn Dear Dressed, A few years ago, there was a term used to describe people like you: metrosexual. These are men, often straight, who are extremely well groomed, dress well in the latest style, wear colognes, and they might get highlights in their hair, or get manicures or pedicures. They aren’t rugged, but are clean. A lot of the Hollywood stars are metrosexuals They aren’t a man’s man, or a hipster. They are in the know about the finer things in life. Celebrities get talked about all the time, and people speculate about their sexuality if it isn’t obvious. One example is Kevin Spacey. Rumors have it that he is gay, but when asked by reporters, he doesn’t deny or…

Dear Christine, Frustrated in Ferndale

  • Posted on August 7, 2017 at 9:24 am

Dear Dr. Christine, Question: I am a lesbian, and I’m masculine looking and proud of being me. I like hanging out with straight girls, as they are more fun, I think, than lesbians. I get caught up in a cycle that is exhausting, and I wonder what should happen? For example, my straight friend “Cindy” likes to hang out at my house and we’ll watch movies together, and pretty soon, she’s holding my hand on the couch, and before long she’s cuddling with me! I can’t watch the movie to the end! She’s driving me crazy. The next day I’ll try to tell her that I’m really attracted to her and want her, and she’ll just laugh and tell me that she doesn’t have feelings like that for me. When I ask her about being such a tease, she insists that she does these PDAs with her other straight girlfriends. It’s torture! I try to tell her that I’m like a guy, that if you hold my hand and cuddle with me it turns me on, and I can’t stop! If she really does this with her straight girl friends, then it sure isn’t something I can do and remain…

Dear Christine, Anxious in Ann Arbor

  • Posted on July 30, 2017 at 9:10 am

Dear Christine,
Fear of flying!! So I’m a 47 year old man who travels 2 to 3 times a year for work and once a year for a vacation with my husband. I am terrified every single time. It doesn’t stop Me from going. I have to. Each flight requires two martinis and a .5 Xanax. By the time I get to my destination, I need a nap. I have never found a way to be less anxious about flying and hate doping myself up. Is there help?  Anxious in Ann Arbor

Dear Anxious,
Flying is a pretty noxious experience these days, even without anxiety!  There are several approaches to reducing your anxiety and the need to dope yourself up.

Ten Fear of Flying Facts
1. One person in three has some degree of fear of flying.
2. One person in six is unable to fly due to fear of flying.
3. The average age at which this fear develops is twenty-seven.
4. Anticipatory anxiety before flying is often worse than feelings when flying.
5. For many fearful fliers, the most difficult part of the flight is cruise.
6. Cruise is difficult because of turbulence and feeling up high.
7. The term fear of flying is in common usage due to the title of a novel.
8. Fear of flying may include claustrophobia and fear of in-flight panic.
9. Landing is often a relief because the emotional ordeal is almost over.
10. Whatever fear of flying means to you, SOAR can relieve the problem.
<http://www.fearofflying.com/>
One method is called “exposure” which means being exposed to what you fear in small amounts in a controlled environment, getting past those initial moments and surviving.  Then, moving on to greater amounts of exposure.  There are classes you can take in this, often at airports or with therapists who may even be a pilot as well.  They usually have you go on a plane that isn’t going anywhere, talk about the symptoms you’re feeling and learn methods to manage them.  There are several classes, ending with a graduation flight, to prove to yourself that you can fly!  There are on line video classes (11 DVDs and 2 hours of counseling) as well.  Check out www.fearofflying.comthat features Rapid Relief Complete Relief classes and the SOAR Program which are guaranteed.
If your fears are not that debilitating, you might try some energy psychology.  I teach some of these methods to my clients.  One is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) https://www.emofree.com/eft-tutorial/tapping-basics/what-is-eft.html created by Gary Craig.  This uses Chinese medicine’s “chi” lines of energy in the body and tapping on various end points or meridians (no needles as in acupuncture) of these lines while thinking about what is upsetting to you.  It sounds contradictory, but focusing on your phobia while tapping reduces the emotion’s intensity.  It’s not a panacea most of the time, but it’s easy to self-administer and I think of it as being like a “volume control” for emotions.
A further energy psychology tip I first learned from Donna Eden, who practices energy medicine.  You will never meet a more loving and happy person than Donna Eden!  http://www.innersource.net/em/  One of her techniques to balance the “chi” and reduce anxiety is as to cross the centerline of the body (ankles, knees, arms, hands) to strengthen the self and decrease negative emotions.  One tip is as follows:
“A simple tip which is great to reduce anxiety is the Over Energy Correction. Cross the left ankle over the right, extend arms with the back of your hands facing each other, bring your right hand over your left, clasp your fingers together, fold arms and hands inward and rest on your chest just under the chin; rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth and breathe deeply for 1 or 2 minutes. This exercise is very calming for acute anxiety and assists in promoting sleep.”
Many therapists recommend using meditation and using headphones to listen to whatever is calming for you while you fly.  Of course, electronics are turned off for take off and landing, so it’s helpful to practice at home before getting on a plane, so that you can spend 10 or 15 minutes of those critical parts of the flight in peace.  Fear of Flying School offers 21 stress management techniques, all proven by science.  Some are basic:  get enough sleep.  Minimize caffeine, avoid nicotine, don’t overdo alcohol, slow breathing, laugh, avoid unhappy people, do yoga, have sex!, tense and then relax all of your muscles from top to bottom of your whole body.  Develop your positive emotions, give hugs, exercise aerobically (hard to do ON the plane), get a massage, use the EFT technique.  Of course, listen to relaxing music, avoid the news,, and challenge your stress inducing thoughts, as they might not have as much validity as you fear.  Did you know that flying is the very safest mode of transportation?  It’s actually safer than driving to the airport!   http://fearofflyingschool.com/stress-management-techniques
Remember that reducing your overall anxiety, controlling what you have control over, will be a good basis to start with.  Good luck to you.  If trying these techniques on your own aren’t enough, don’t hesitate to take a class at the airport or schedule some therapy with a psychologist.
Christine C Cantrell, PhD
Fully Licensed Psychologist

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Annoyed in Adrian

  • Posted on July 10, 2017 at 8:14 am

Dear Christine,

I’ve had the same best friend since middle school. We share a lot and even came out together. We dated briefly but settled into an amazing friendship. We really enjoy each others company. I’ve been in a long term relationship for years and my partner also gets along great with my best friend. Recently my friend started dating someone we both find really annoying. We didn’t say anything hoping it would be temporary. It’s been a year now and they are moving in together and talking marriage.

My question is, is it too late to tell my best friend that her girlfriend is a know it all, hogs the conversation, and puts everyone off and that if she continues to be with her, fine, but can her and I just do things without Ms. KIA (Know It All)???

Thanks, Annoyed in Adrian

PS I enjoy your column!

Dear Annoyed,

How nice that you have transitioned from dating to friends! Isn’t is annoying when a friend picks a partner you can’t stand!? It happens all the time. If there is something you need to get off your chest, by all means, tell your friend. If you think that it will change her mind about her beloved, hold your peace.

Have you and your friend spent time together without Ms. KIA in the past year? If not, have you talked to your friend about what you need or expect about sharing time together, without partners? Often, new couples spend more time focused on each other rather than on others, so you may not have had much time with your friend in the past year. Ask her what she thinks about spending time with her alone. Her response will be based on her needs and the boundaries she has set up with Ms. KIA. Some couples are comfortable seeing friends separately, and some like to be in each other’s pockets and together all the time.

Remember that the only person you have a ghost of a chance of controlling is you and that is tough going! Friends will choose partners for reasons that may not make sense to anyone outside of the relationship. And friendships will change over time, depending on all sorts of factors that may and will arise. I know a 87 year old woman who maintained a friendship with someone since they were 5 years old. This woman believed that friends should remain close forever, but recently decided that wasn’t worth the emotional cost for herself. She decided it was time to back away from that friendship. They both had changed tremendously over the years and this woman was no longer comfortable trying to be close. We all change! If the friendship continues or expands to include both be close. We all change! If the friendship continues or expands to include both friends’ partners, wonderful. Try to be very Zen about this friendship, accepting your friend for who she is now with the partner she choses. Christine Cantrell, PhD, Psychologist

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Parenting in Pontiac

  • Posted on July 3, 2017 at 9:42 am

Dear Christine, My partner and I have 3 kids and the oldest, a girl, just tuned 13. We are worried that she’s hanging out with the wrong crowd-older kids. She has become secretive, we’ve caught her in lies (nothing major) and she has a boyfriend. Short of locking her in the house until she’s 21, we are unsure how to handle this. We’ve tried to have the drug talk, the sex talk and she just gets mad and embarrassed and says she’s would never do that. Thanks, Parenting in Pontiac Dear Parenting, You have a tough job. What is most important is to keep communication channels up with your daughter and stay active in her life and keep her involved with both of you and other family and friends. Focus on her interests and hobbies, even if they aren’t your preference. Get to know her friends, meet her boyfriend, make your home the place where kids like hanging out, so you can get to know them and you can observe dynamics and relationships. Give your daughter room to rebel safely. When she wants a style of hair or clothes that you don’t like, give her room to make those decisions.…

Dear Christine, Depressed in Dexter

  • Posted on June 26, 2017 at 10:34 am

Dear Christine,
Gender confusion, Please Help!?
I am 21 years old, biological male, and suffering a from a very extreme depression. This depression has been quite a constant in my life and I’m keen to be rid of it. I know it’s stemming from the doubt, anxiety, and confusion that comes in the delightfully painful package that we call gender confusion. Mentally, at least, I’ve always been female. I’ve decided on two courses of action. Getting help from s’s many sources as possible in an attempt to fix myself and if that doesn’t work then I’m just going to see myself out. Talking me out of that part is pointless I might add. My life is a living hell and any alternative to living s’s a freak is highly preferable. I have spoken to a gender therapist already and they didn’t help. Just told me I should try and be a happy freak. 150$ a session and im never going back. So that is out of the question as well.
Sign me, Depressed in Dexter

Dear Depressed, What you are feeling is awful, but it is not unusual for someone who has Gender Dysphoria.  Your body presents are one sex, and your brain identifies as the other.  There is a disconnect that can be helped.  You have the choice to accept this is your unique self and try to figure out what will make your life more livable and happier.  Perhaps you will decide to take hormones, or alter your body to reflect physically what you experience psychologically.  The other option is to  not accept this unique self and be miserable.  Suicide is an option that many people have taken when they don’t see a way to be who they feel they are on the inside.  But getting some good, professional help would be worth checking out. Go back to the therapist you tried.  Figure out what you mean and need to “fix yourself” and see if that is what the therapist can help you with.  If fixing yourself does not include self acceptance but is only seeing yourself as a freak, then take a look at these pictures of women who are transgendered.  Notice that they work in all sorts of professions and they have all sorts of ways of expressing who they feel they are on the inside.  Not one looks like a “freak” to me! http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TSsuccesses/TSgallery1.html
If you really want to educate yourself about being transgender, also known as transsexual, please check out this website.  http://forum.beginninglifeforums.com/ind.  It is difficult when you are in such pain to realize that you can have a new and better life.  It’s a struggle to come to terms with accepting who you are, but there are lots of examples out there of men who realized they really are a woman inside.  The most recent one I know of is Bradley Manning, the US Army soldier convicted in July 2013 of violating the Espionage Act and 22 other charges after releasing a large set of restricted documents.  He was exploring  gender dysphoria as early as 2009 and in 2010 emailed his supervisor that he had gender identity disorder.  The day after sentencing, August 22, 2-013, Manning’s attorney issued a press release that Bradley identifies as female and request that the media refer to her by her new name and feminine pronouns.   There couldn’t be a more public way to come out, but Chelsea Elizabeth Manning had been through it all, and in moving forward with her life, it meant accepting guilt for the charges, but also accepting her identity.   She said:  “As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me.  I am Chelsea Manning.  I am female.  Given the way that I feel, and have felt from childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.  I hope that you will support me in this transition.  I also request that , starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility).  I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.” 
It’s hard to imagine a more charged and public environment in which to transition from male to female, but when you finally face your own truth, there is such relief at finally being at peace with yourself, it makes it worthwhile.  IF you don’t want to go back to the same therapist, make a clean, new start and find another therapist who is qualified to work with Gender Identity Disorder and Gender Dysphoria.  Don’t hesitate to ask questions about the therapists approach to working with these issues. Good luck to you, and write me again, to let me know how you’re doing.  Christine Cantrell

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888
Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Depressed in Detroit

  • Posted on June 12, 2017 at 9:46 am

Dear Christine, I’m a generally happy person so it confused me when for no apparent reason a couple months ago I started feeling sad, somewhat depressed and unmotivated to do things. I was due for my annual physical and told my physician but she wasn’t much help. Nothing physically wrong with me that she could find and she suggested I seek medication if it continues.I don’t want to be on meds so my question to you is, do you know of any reason why someone 45 could suddenly feel depressed for no real reason? Oh, and how do you feel about medication for depression? Thanks, Depressed in Detroit Dear Depressed, I’m glad that there’s nothing physically wrong with you and that you first checked with your physician about your feeling blue these days. There are several things that could be affecting you: you are close to the age of perimenopause and mood changes can be connected with those hormonal changes. Menopause can really wreak havoc on the a woman’s body and well being. Also, several months includes important events in any one person’s life, but also the life of United States citizens. There’s been a lot of political changes in…