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Uncomfortable with something my t said

Discussion in 'Treatment & Therapy' started by ImSad, Jun 26, 2018.

  1. ImSad

    ImSad New Member

    I almost feel a little silly posting about this since it’s such a little thing, but last session my therapist used a term that made me uncomfortable.

    Long story short: I’m gay, we were talking about a topic related to my sexuality, and at one point she referred to it as my “lifestyle”. It caught me a little off guard but I ignored it at the time; however it was still bothering me days later. It’s not the worst thing that could’ve been said, and I understand that not everyone knows that it’s an offensive way to refer to lgbtq people, but it still rubbed me the wrong way. Being gay is just part of who I am, it’s not some “lifestyle” I chose to partake in. In fact, I spent quite a long time hating myself for it. So to hear the term come from my t was a little upsetting.

    I am unsure if I should bring this up during next session. Part of me feels like I’m overreacting and should just let it go — after all, it’s not like she meant to offend me, right? But another part feels like I should advocate for myself and any other/future lgbtq clients she may have, so she knows it’s not necessarily the most “correct” term to use. Overall I’m not a very confrontational person so the idea of confronting her with this is anxiety provoking enough, I’m wondering if it’s even worth it.
    hithere, Swift, scout86 and 5 others like this.
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  3. Sietz

    Sietz I'm a VIP

    I would be upset too.

    Talk to her about it, it will ease your mind.
  4. Bkinder

    Bkinder Well-Known Member

    A good therapist would want you to advocate and set her straight- and would be okay with that. Advocacy is a skill intentionally worked on in therapy. You can practice on her! Second, if you want it to change- she’s not a mind reader- tell her or she may inadvertently do it again.
    Harmonics, Eagle3, Swift and 7 others like this.
  5. Rumors

    Rumors I'm a VIP

    I'm not gay so I am not sure how I would react, however as a heterosexual, in all my 47 years, no one has ever referred to my dating relationships, marriage, or casual relationships as a "lifestyle." I don't think the intent was to be degrading, however it is something that would jump out at me during conversation as well. I hope you will talk with your therapist about this. Hang in there!
    Harmonics, scout86, littleoc and 6 others like this.
  6. blackemerald1

    blackemerald1 I'm a VIP Premium Member

    Yep I agree with ^^^^ just let her know. It doesn't have to be a confrontation btw.
    littleoc, Missycat, ImSad and 2 others like this.
  7. Neverthesame

    Neverthesame A Mind The Dead Have Ravaged Premium Member Donated

    When I was younger, this used to be the PC way to refer to a gay person.
    It never made sense to me for the exact reason you stated. It made it seem like a person's sexual orientation was somehow a conscious choice.

    When applied to someone who say, behaves in a way that's atypical of established gender roles, (effeminate straight men or masculine straight women). That would make more sense to me. Albeit, even then it wouldn't be exclusive to a sexual orientation, but would apply to anyone who chose to regularly do anything unnecessary for survival. (Churchgoers, nightclub patrons, historical recreationists, mimes, goth kids, ect, ect.)

    Maybe the concept of "lifestyle choice" made it easier for uptight people to accept it, if someone somewhere had some measure of control over that which they don't understand, making it less frightening for them? Though I'm just guessing here.

    I'd also suggest talking to your T about it. Might end up being a really interesting conversation.
    Abstract, Eagle3, Swift and 7 others like this.
  8. Mach123

    Mach123 I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    She may have a different opinion. She's entitled to it. There are things my therapist will never see the way I do. I have read people on here say they needed a therapist who worked with the lgbtq community. I'd ask her straight out, but we are long past that stage thank goodness. She said it though, so you kinda already know? I'd have a hard time with that one. I know I can't make her believe the things I do. That doesn't mean she can't help me.
    Swift, littleoc, Missycat and 3 others like this.
  9. EveHarrington

    EveHarrington _______ in progress. Premium Member

    I think you should say something.

    There’s a 99.999999999% chance that she didn’t know it’s offensive.

    Honestly, with all this new lingo regarding those who aren’t straight and of the gender they were born into, I think you should cut people some slack if they don’t use the right terms. Even those with the best of intentions have a 99.99999% chance of getting at least one term wrong. It is a bit confusing.
    Abstract, Eagle3, Missycat and 4 others like this.
  10. MyWillow

    MyWillow Well-Known Member

    Definitely raise it.

    I’m very accepting of people’s sexuality but sometimes I’ve said things that are unintentionally similarly offensive. Things that I’ve thought would indicate how open I was. But I recall the sexist, racist household I was brought up and it’s not surprising I don’t have the language.
    Swift, Missycat, ImSad and 2 others like this.
  11. barefoot

    barefoot I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    I'd mention it to her - if you don't, the chances are she might say it again sometime and then it'll probably ruffle you again.

    It doesn't need be a confrontation or a discussion about what you both think in terms of sexuality and whether or not it is a lifestyle choice (unless you want to have that discussion with her because you want to know her view on it). And it doesn't have to be something major that's on her for getting it wrong/offending you etc - I suspect, as others and you have said, that she hasn't intended any offence at all and that she thinks this is a good, safe, even "light" term to use (and, for some people, I guess it might be)

    I'm in a long term same sex relationship and never really identify with any labels around sexuality - plus, most people assume I'm straight anyway. Even though I don't really identify with any label, there are some terms that I feel ok with and other words I dislike. For someone else, their reactions to those same words will be different. So, it can be a minefield for anyone (not just straight people!) when it comes to what language to use.

    Fwiw, I would feel uncomfortable and probably a little irritated with the "lifestyle" comment for the same reasons you do - that it implies that you have made a choice to be gay. So, I think I would bring it up - not because I would want her to feel bad or because I would want to know for sure whether she thinks my sexuality is a lifestyle choice, but because I want us to be on the same page going forwards in terms of the language we use or in terms of her better understanding my position on these things. So, I would probably say something like, "After last session, I felt a bit uncomfortable because you'd referred to my 'lifestyle choice', which felt to me that you were saying that my sexuality is a choice and I don't see it that way. In future, could you say X instead as that feels more comfortable to me?"

    If you think - or if she confirms - that she really does see your sexuality as a choice, it's then up to you to decide whether that's a deal breaker for you in terms of whether you keep seeing her for therapy. I think that probably would be a deal breaker for me as it would feel that we were completely poles apart on what we fundamentally believed around sexuality and that part of my identity. And also because, people who believe being gay is a lifestyle choice...I feel an element of judgement there, which I wouldn't want to be there in the therapy space. But that's just me and how I'd feel about it :)
    Missycat, Muttly, ImSad and 2 others like this.
  12. ImSad

    ImSad New Member

    Wow, thank you for all of these lovely replies!

    I think I’m going to bring it up to her next session. I think in the past this would be something that I just let slide, but I’m trying to be better at advocating for myself and I am finally starting to feel more “safe” in therapy, so I think this would be a good opportunity to practice that. I genuinely don’t believe she meant anything offensive by it, and that she’s likely just not educated on the proper terms to use (especially as they have changed rapidly over the last several years, as some of you mentioned).

    It just gets a little frustrating sometimes as a gay person having to constantly hear and correct offensive language or actions (which is why I don’t bother 99% of the time, especially when it seems unintentional like this), so part of me is annoyed that I have to hear/deal with it in therapy too. But at the same time I suppose it’s not the worst place for it to come up seeing as it’s supposed to be a “safe space” for me to work through these kinds of feelings.

    Thank you all for the feedback!
    Swift, scout86, joeylittle and 7 others like this.
  13. Muttly

    Muttly I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    I'm glad you are going to bring it up. I completely get how tiring and frustrating it is to have to educate others but in this case, it may help you deal with things other than the language she used. As you said, it will give you a chance to use self-advocacy and practice dealing with conflict in a safe and hopefully supportive setting.

    And yes, that comment would bother me if my therapist said it.
    Swift, blackemerald1 and ImSad like this.
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