Coming out is a decision-making process regarding disclosure of identity for sexual minorities. Existing literature on the coming-out process highlights a singular, linear emphasis, failing to highlight the recurring task of disclosure that sexual minorities endure. The purpose of this manuscript is to Sexual minorities and counseling the cyclical nature of the coming-out process and the importance of recognizing this cycle when counseling sexual minority clients.
A case application is provided to illustrate the proposed cycle of coming out. Implications for counselors and suggestions for future research are discussed. Coming out is a pivotal process in the lives of sexual minority e. The term sexual minority is utilized in this paper to be both succinct and inclusive. Beyond the internal process of development, coming out is an interpersonal, diverse process of disclosure. During the lifetime, individuals may face various opportunities to disclose identity; each scenario may have unique implications that are essential to consider in regard to client safety.
When counseling clients through the coming-out process COPit is essential to recognize the social context encompassing each unique occurrence in the lifelong cycle of coming out.
The purpose of this manuscript is to highlight the recurring process of disclosure as we a address the stressors and benefits of
Sexual minorities and counseling out, b outline the social layers of coming out, c examine strengths and limitations of current models pertaining to coming out, d emphasize the importance of addressing coming out in counseling, and e introduce the application of cyclical framework of the coming-out process through a case illustration.
Sexual minorities face considerable personal dilemmas regarding coming out. Individuals facing this internal conflict may suffer from low self-esteem as low confidence and incongruence Sexual minorities and counseling identity prompts individuals to expend energy on Sexual minorities and counseling identity.
Sexual minorities are faced with the risk that not everyone will understand or accept their identity. Individuals may react in a multitude of ways that include shock, hostility, confusion and disappointment.
Reactions may reach levels of harassment and abuse. In choosing to disclose, sexual minorities must accept the risk that relationships, regardless of closeness, may permanently change.
Therefore, it is essential for counselors to be aware of the stressors involved in the coming-out Sexual minorities and counseling in "Sexual minorities and counseling" to effectively aid clients. Moreover, studies have shown relationships between disclosing identity and reduced levels of distress. Rosario and colleagues learned that positive attitudes towards identity were related to lower anxiety and depression among sexual minority youth.
Similarly, in a study of 2, lesbian and bisexual women, Morris and colleagues found that coming out reduces psychological distress. Disclosing identity may help to form new relationships or to deepen existing relationships Oswald, ; Savin-Williams, Coming out may be related to closeness for individuals who disclose in a relationship Berger, The presence or absence of support following identity disclosure may help individuals to determine how to create healthier boundaries LaSala, ; Oswald, Beyond personal relationships, outness may be linked to interest and involvement in advocacy.
Individuals who have disclosed report an increased interest in changing judgmental, biased attitudes of individuals who may display Sexual minorities and counseling Oswald, Coming out has the potential to provide an array of benefits from individual to societal levels.
Counselors who are informed and prepared have the potential to support clients who are coming out and assist in facilitating such benefits. Familial disclosure is typically a salient layer, as reactions from family to identity disclosure exist on a spectrum of happiness and acceptance to anger and abandonment Lewis, ; Pearson, The stressors of coming out have the potential to divide a family as some members may ascribe to heterosexist beliefs and not be accepting of the individual Gorman-Murray, Sexual minority youth must consider the potential ramifications of disclosing their sexual identity, particularly in conservative households.
According to Hilton and Szymanskithe entire familial unit is affected by the disclosure. Siblings may feel concerned for the sexual minority sibling, angry or disappointed with parental reactions, consider the changes that would need to occur for themselves, and prepare to deal with the challenge of heterosexism. Children of sexual minorities also are affected by disclosure. According to Joos and Broadadult children reported experiencing feelings of fear, terror and secrecy.
Another layer of the cycle of coming out CCO "Sexual minorities and counseling" is important to consider is peer disclosure. Given that peer groups Sexual minorities and counseling constantly evolving, sexual minorities must face disclosure to multiple peer groups over the course of their lifetime and hence the coinciding reactions, effects and consequence are important to consider and validate.
In addition to family and peer groups, societal messages highlight the marginalized status given to individuals who identify outside of the heterosexist binary established in Western society. This marginalization provides the foundation for the unique, complex process of identity development and disclosure for sexual minorities Cooper, ; Dermer et al.
For example, Sexual minorities and counseling minorities must consider disclosure toward those within their inner social circles e. With each decision, sexual minorities may experience persistent emotions, thoughts and behaviors associated
Sexual minorities and counseling previous instances of coming out, highlighting the importance of acknowledging the recurring experience of sexual minority status that reaches beyond the scope of a pivotal one-time occurrence.
Within Sexual minorities and counseling spectrum, a variety of topics have been considered as aspects to contribute to counselor preparedness such as ethical issues, terminology, awareness of current issues and willingness to advocate.
Israel and colleagues conducted a modified Delphi study in an effort to better understand sexual minority counseling competencies. Results indicated that out of 31 highlighted skills, the ability to assist clients through coming out was ranked as the third most important skill for working with sexual minority clients by professional experts and fourth most important skill by sexual minority experts.
Nadal and colleagues conducted a qualitative study of 26 LGB clients. Participants noted several concerns with their counselors such as discomfort or disapproval, use of heterosexist language, assumption of pathology or abnormality, assumption of a universal LGB experience, exoticization and threatening.
In an effort to increase counselor awareness, knowledge, skills and overall effectiveness in assisting sexual minority clients, Sexual minorities and counseling propose that particular attention should be given to understanding the factors of coming out.
The proposed cycle of coming out may assist in better preparing counselors to assist sexual minority clients and may thus contribute to an increase in sexual minority competence overall.
Although considerable research has been targeted toward understanding the COP, models vary considerably and encompass factors such as awareness, disclosure, community membership and intimate experiences. Researchers often place coming out
Sexual minorities and counseling the overarching process of sexual minority identity development e. Another concern with linear models is that research does not support the
Sexual minorities and counseling transition from stage to stage.
InDegges-White, Rice, and Myers conducted a qualitative study of 12 lesbian women. Although all 12 participants experienced Sexual minorities and counseling initial stage of confusion and fourth stage of acceptance, the remaining four stages were not experienced by all participants.
Sexual minorities and counseling stage of identity pride, which Sexual minorities and counseling associated with visible Sexual minorities and counseling of identity in the community, was only experienced by five women.
Models of coming out emphasize the internal process of identity awareness e. Although the internal process does require attention, the emphasis on this aspect causes the external process of disclosure to lose attention. In an effort to expand the conceptualization of the coming-out process, Fassinger and Miller proposed a phase model of coming out that acknowledged both a personal and social process; however, the social aspect addresses the individual joining the sexual minority community rather than the interpersonal task of disclosure to individuals at large.
InMinton and McDonald noted the need to highlight the cyclical nature of disclosure that includes a cost-benefit analysis and changing life situations; however, no current model emphasizes the cyclical process Sexual minorities and counseling disclosure in which an individual, regardless of personal Sexual minorities and counseling, acceptance, and comfort, is continually confronted with the decision to disclose identity throughout the lifespan.
Thus far, research has focused on confirming conceptual models rather than clarifying the pure reality of coming out for sexual minority individuals. Therefore, we conceptualize the COP as a task that is related to the internal process of identity development; however, we highlight the interpersonal process of disclosure. Identity disclosure is an anxiety-provoking and potentially dangerous process in which counselors must acknowledge and be prepared to assist clients within counseling.
We attempt to contribute to filling the gap in counselor preparedness by proposing a cyclical framework to assist clients through the COP. The process of coming out is recurring and is influenced by a variety of factors e. The cycle of coming out is a framework developed to assist counselors in understanding, recognizing, conceptualizing and helping clients through the process of coming out. This framework supports the idea that individuals may experience instances of awareness, Sexual minorities and counseling and disclosure in phases rather than stages during the COP.
Unlike stages that imply a sequential, Sexual minorities and counseling trajectory of the process of coming out, phases embody the fluidity in which an individual may navigate through the process i.
The coming-out cycle recognizes that Sexual minorities and counseling main factor contributing to the variability among sexual minorities is the external process of disclosure. Sexual minorities and counseling is the core concept in this cyclical process; therefore, this framework emphasizes the necessity of counselor awareness in
Sexual minorities and counseling to validate and aid sexual minority clients through their Sexual minorities and counseling. The following sections outline the three phases in the cycle of coming out: Although triggers vary, common examples may include meeting a new person for the first time, being questioned Sexual minorities and counseling identity, or the desire to be open and honest in relationships with others.
An individual may be aware, congruent and grounded in sexual minority identity; however, societal contexts pose triggers that spark the social disclosure process. For example, an individual may identify as homosexual and his or her family and close friends may be aware of identity; however, being asked about family by a coworker may prompt him or her to consider whether or not he or she would or should disclose identity Datti, Therefore, stressors may prompt individuals to re-experience "Sexual minorities and counseling" COP regardless of sexual minority identity development.
New, unfamiliar situations raise the question of whether or not an individual should choose to disclose identity. In this individuals are at risk for negative coping mechanisms associated with coming out such as promiscuity, substance use and destructive behaviors at large Chutter, Sexual minorities and counseling Degges-White et al.
The assessment phase is characterized by the analysis of whether or not it is Sexual minorities and counseling, necessary or warranted to disclose. Exploration of alternatives regarding action or inaction is often displayed.
In the assessment phase, energy is expended on planning and considering potential outcomes. Regardless of how long an individual has openly identified as a sexual minority, assessment may be influenced by past experiences in the coming-out cycle. Worries prompted with the awareness phase increase as actions are planned; hence, risks during the awareness "Sexual minorities and counseling," such as anxiety and depression, have the potential to be exacerbated.
If an individual has had a positive experience with disclosure, the assessment phase may not be a difficult process. An individual needs to re-address the pros and cons related to coming out within the given context.
Therefore, although an individual may have previously chosen disclosure, that does not necessitate the automatic disclosure in future circumstances. In this phase, it is important to ensure that the client is internally prepared to handle the decision-making process. A counselor should aid the client in recognizing outside influences that may "Sexual minorities and counseling" the decision-making process such as health concerns or situations of grief.
The assessment phase may elicit negative emotions related to stress, anxiety and depression that prompt the need to cope. Establishing a positive support system is an essential component in preparing the client during the assessment phase.
During the assessment phase the counselor needs to have the safety of the client in mind at all times Cooper, Safety planning should consider dangers at intrapersonal and interpersonal levels.
Through assessment, the counselor may be able to recognize that a client may be in a situation in which disclosure may be unsafe, although that client may be unaware.
For example, a sexual minority youth who is deciding to disclose identity to a conservative parent or legal guardian should consider the danger ahead in the event that the disclosed identity is not accepted positively. For example, possible repercussions of disclosure may include physical abuse, homelessness, neglect and excommunication from family members. Contrastingly, a client is not free from consequences if the decision to not disclose is chosen; instead, the client may be risk for internal discord such as feelings of sadness, isolation, confusion, anger, shame and depression.
This safety plan is essential in assuring safety as the client transitions into the decision phase. However, the decision phase may be influenced by feelings of fear, confusion, vulnerability and uncertainty HRC, Due to these risks, it is beneficial for the client to follow the previously established safety plan.
The previously developed plan from the assessment phase is followed through in the decision phase. Clients may battle with conflicting emotions and concerns with congruence; however, it is important to recognize risks and the various layers involved in the decision to disclose. The essential responsibility of the counselor in the decision phase is to continue to support clients in executing their process. This volume examines the diverse body of scholarship and research on sexual minority, transgender, and gender non-conforming psychology, and describes.
Context: Sexual minority women (SMW) are less likely to use sexual and with health care seeking behavior and reproductive counseling. Sexual orientation describes a person's sexual or affectional attraction to another person specifically identified by gender, either opposite Sexual minorities and counseling (heterosexually.