When I tell people what I do for a living, I often get the response, “wow, that must be so hard, how do you do that?” While I can easily explain the day to day workings of being a therapist at The Guidance Center and the amazing work we do, what I can’t explain is why. That is personal. It’s a deep-rooted belief that likely stems from my personal experiences as part of a minority group.
I am white and enjoy white privilege, no doubt about it, but I am also a woman, and a lesbian. This has led to countless experiences in which I have been judged, stereotyped or downright shamed. My personal struggle with these experiences is ongoing, but what I am intimately aware of is that any discrimination I have faced pales in comparison to the inequality in disadvantaged and underserved communities.
However, this glimmer of being part of a community that is, more often than not, completely misunderstood and literally hated by some, has made me a better therapist, a better community activist, and a better ally to the communities in which I work.
For me, Pride Month is about feeling comfortable in my own skin and being okay with the expression of myself I bring to the world. It is that same level of fundamental acceptance and unconditional positive regard for others that I believe is the foundation of good therapy.
Sure, we may have “techniques” and “interventions” but at the end of the day, the most healing thing we can do is sit with another human and accept them for who they are and where they are in their life. If this person is different from you in some way, then acceptance is even more powerful. It is only after this type of safety is established that we can ask people to trust us enough to try to make the changes we are placing in front of them.
Gay Pride Month is a celebration of diversity. It represents an idea that what is different about us as individuals is minor in comparison to what common ground we have as humans.
In June 2020, it is even more important to emphasize the need for us to celebrate our diversity and come together to celebrate how the unique aspects of every human being is what makes us great.
If you or a child you know needs help, please view the list of resources below:
The Trevor Project
The Center – Long Beach
Los Angeles LGBT Center
PLAG Los Angeles
Dr. Tiffany Dawson, Licensed Psychologist, is a Program Manager in The Guidance Center’s Compton Program where she helps guide children and families struggling with mental health conditions or abuse toward positive and productive futures. She is especially passionate about making a difference in underserved communities and overcoming the barriers that prevent personal growth. Before joining The Guidance Center team in 2011, Dr. Dawson worked with the LGBTQ population at AIDS Project Los Angeles, with at risk youth at Didi Hirsch, with juvenile offenders at San Mateo Juvenile Hall, and with young adults at the San Jose Job Corps. as a therapist. Dr. Dawson earned an MA from Pepperdine and a Psy.D from PGSP-Stanford Consortium in Psychology.