Every LGBTQ person needs a little help working through the challenges that come with being in the minority. This is where Houstonian ks Stanley, Psy.D., PLLC, comes in.
“I’m a clinical psychologist, and consider myself a generalist because I enjoy working with diverse folks who have diverse concerns,” Stanley says. “I specialize in LGBTQ+ mood disorders, trauma, and suicide. Because I am an out, transgender psychologist, I am often sought out by trans and nonbinary folks. I consider [my area of expertise to be] trans mental health.”
Stanley received his training from Pepperdine University in 2009, and opened his solo practice after moving back to Houston in 2015. He has developed a supportive and affirming practice that has grown larger since the onset of COVID-19.
“Since COVID, I have had a surge in new patient requests. People are wanting and needing more services than before. My current clients are asking to be seen more often, and I have found myself in more frequent crisis-response situations. That is challenging as a solo practitioner,” Stanley admits. “People are grappling with depression and anxiety, and coping in various healthy and unhealthy ways. People have lost jobs, health insurance, and have rescheduled gender-affirmation surgeries. Also, COVID has created a conundrum for many LGBTQ+ folks who are quarantining with family members who are not LGBTQ+ affirmative.”
LGBTQ people are generally in need of more quality mental-health care than their straight or cisgender counterparts, according to the latest report by Mental Health America. Stanley understands his patients’ unique needs because he has personally experienced many of the same problems.
“A lot of well-intentioned mental-health clinicians are not adequately trained in LGBTQ+ mental health, especially trans and nonbinary mental health. Many are also not aware of their own personal biases, or the ways that they ‘microaggress’ against their clients. I believe that having very visible LGBTQ+ clinicians, practices, and clinics is necessary, because we live in a society that discriminates against and oppresses LGBTQ+ people. Particularly with what is going on socio-politically in America, it is very important to have clinicians who have a nuanced understanding of the role that LGBTQ+ minority stress plays in mental health,” says Stanley.
With COVID-19 already complicating things for patients, Stanley notes that the holidays are likely going to amplify already-stressful situations.
“The holiday season tends to bring with it plenty of stress and depression as it is. With COVID, these problems will [increase] as we negotiate how to gather with people. You also might be coping with the anxiety of contracting the virus. These are all human reactions and they are real, and it is important to process them. I strongly recommend that people consider seeking therapy or counseling of some kind,” says Stanley.
Although 2020 has been an unprecedented year in many ways, there have been some positive developments emerging from the overwhelming negativity.
“Life is paradoxical in that it is both awesome and terrifying, good and bad. It’s both. Even a pandemic that has caused unprecedented devastation can yield positive things,” says Stanley. “I’ve seen people reconnect with old friends and loved ones, get creative about being quarantined with a partner 24/7, form better habits, reevaluate their priorities, develop better boundaries with people, and find a new direction in life.”
Stanley says there are other aspects of self-care that people can focus on if therapy is not an option. He has four helpful recommendations.
Tips for Surviving the Holidays:
1. Attend to the basics: sleeping, eating, hygiene, and physical movement. “It’s amazing how much we neglect those things, even before the pandemic. Also, make sure to start your day strong with a healthy routine, and have structure in your day. Punctuate your days by scheduling time to read a book or do a mindfulness exercise.”
2. Go outside and be in touch with nature. “If you have pets, really take time to enjoy them and connect with them. I have learned so many funny things about my three cats and two dogs since I began working from home.”
3. Help each other. “Another thing that helps with wellness is taking care of others. Offer support to your family or friends who might be having a hard time. I’m a firm believer that helping another person will make you feel better.”
4. Turn off the news. “Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to the news. I’m also a big fan of social-media breaks. If you think about it, we constantly inundate ourselves with upsetting reminders.”
For more information on Dr. ks Stanley, visit kstanleypsyd.com.
This article appears in the November 2020 edition of OutSmart magazine.