Short piece on therapy for specific groups


Bisexuality continues to be a controversial concept for many. Often bisexuality is dismissed as “just a phase” or that the individual who identifies as bisexual is “testing the water” and “experimenting or lying to themselves and others – that they must be one or the other, that there is no such thing as bisexual.

These beliefs seem to exist across the board – both within the heterosexual world and also within homosexual communities. It is often thought that they are too ashamed or afraid to come out and hide it by identifying as “bi”, at times labelling and attacking them as betraying the community or “copping out”.

Identifying as bi can be challenging. Often it involves coming out twice, once as gay and then as bi. Individuals can find themselves excluded from both the heterosexual and homosexual communities and can be socially and psychologically isolating and painful.

Increasing rates of alcohol, substance abuse and other process addictions can be the result of all these factors. Having to hide and be dishonest about who you are is damaging to our sense of self and personal wellbeing.

As with other sexual orientations it is important to have a space to be honest and learn to manage those difficult emotions and situations without turning to substances or processes. Identification with others alongside individualized programing can be instrumental in initiating the change process and building the life we deserve.

ACT can be an incredibly beneficial tool, using the hexaflex to work with individuals where they are at. Building committed action, identifying values, using acceptance and creating a life that is worthwhile for them can help to create an incredible change for people.

There is little or no research available on working therapeutically with this population. Some research is available related to shame and self-destructive behaviours. Casiello-Robbins, Wilner, Peters, Bentley & Sauer-Zavala (2019) published a paper in the Journal of Contextual Behavioural Science looking at the role of aversive responses to emotions. Other research has been done regarding working with shame using other approached particularly Cognitive Behavioural Therapies (CBT). These approaches can be useful although research into working therapeutically with this distinct population is well overdue.

Cassiello-Robbins, C., Wilner, J. G., Peters, J. R., Bentley, K. H., & Sauer-Zavala, S. (2019). Elucidating the relationships between shame, anger, and self-destructive behaviors: The role of aversive responses to emotions. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 12, 7-12.

Published by sandijames

Graduate researcher at La Trobe Uni Australia, ethnography, traditional alcohol, Kadazandusun Sabah Malaysia,, alcohol policy, public health and medical anthropology. We also have established a Mindfulness Based Circus Arts pilot program in a rural school in Sabah. I also run ultramarathons in my spare time. My other research interests include injecting drug use, the war on drugs that is killing PWUD, and the decriminalisation or legalisation of drugs that are currently classed as illicit. I like to keep active and busy..

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