Therapy in New York for the 21st Century.

 

PSYCHOTHERAPY, COUPLES THERAPY, SEX THERAPY

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Therapy and life coaching offer guidance in your journey towards emotional freedom and happiness. Modern therapists want to teach you the tools to create your own psychological, emotional and philosophical way in the world- your life, for you, by you. There are individuals, groups, corporations- whole systems designed to try to make you feel anxious, addicted, inadequate and helpless. Whether you keep feeling miserable for another day is now up to you. 

Modern, effective counseling can help. You've taken the first step just by looking for a therapist. With online scheduling, we make finding a therapist even easier! Schedule Now. 

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How does therapy work and will it work for me?

An important question! You don't KNOW therapy will work, because no one can read the future! But unlike many therapists, my practice uses a scoring system that helps you measure how things are going in your life as well as how each session is going.  We have steadily been implementing this into our sessions over the last 8 years, and our experience backs up what the data already shows - the more immediate feedback and the more engagement a client has in sessions, the better the outcome.  (See a brief video here).  

By using this ratings system, we can monitor your progress, and how things are going in therapy, as well as how you are more able to cope with things between your therapy sessions.  This also allows us to make sure we are providing the best training and supervision to our staff. Regardless of whether you work with a graduate student, post-graduate, or licensed therapist, we want to make sure our approach is the right one for you, and that you're not just FEELING better, but making actual progress with some sort of end in sight! Quite a bit different than you might have experienced with therapists before. 

We're not here to give you advice or to hug you better or pathologize you and keep you entrenched in a mental health system.  We are here to help you learn tangible skills to implement in your own life, and we want to use interventions and techniques that have shown time and time again to be effective.  

Forget online reviews and what you have seen about therapy on tv.  If you want a relatively brief, modern, effective approach to counseling, contact us to set up your intake today, or schedule therapy yourself online.

What kind of therapy do you do?

All of our therapists work with the original type of cognitive behavioral therapy designed by Albert Ellis called Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. We may use other interventions for couples (like Imago Therapy) or other special populations, but all of our work is filtered through the lens of REBT.  This is an active style of therapy, and coupled with the ratings scales we mentioned before, it's quite effective, down to earth and practical.  Our job is not to teach you a bunch of diagnoses and psychobabble jargon, but to translate psychological theory into real language you can use and implement in your lives.

That means - we talk like you do, and our sessions are quite a bit more animated than the silent, nodding therapist you might have seen on tv. Whether sex therapy, individual counseling or life coaching- we try to teach you as best we can how to implement these interventions into your daily life.

Finding a new therapist

Your last therapist definitely added to who you are now! Again, we think of this as learning a language - and though you may have had a great French 1 teacher who did things one way, we're hopefully moving you into French 2 where you will learn a whole expanded set of skills.

Therapy is about learning some tools to work through your own issues in life in a way that's informed by healthy emotions and behaviors. This is different than just presenting your therapist with every bad thing that has ever happened to you then asking "What should I do?!". No one knows what you "should" do, and in our style of therapy, we call that "shoulding all over yourself" (therapy is full of colorful language- get ready!).  We don't want to add more shoulds, musts and supposed to's in your life.  We want you to come up with some more rational alternatives to shoulds - and those alternatives come from you, not from us.  

Coming with a previous diagnosis or a whole list of diagnoses? We'll definitely talk about those, but in REBT it's more about given these events in your life - what are you going to do about them from now going forward, not simply identifying as x or y diagnosis. 

Are you ready for insight and change?

 

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There are four types of mental health practitioner licenses in New York. They are mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist,

creative arts therapist and psychoanalyst. Keep these license areas in mind when looking for a qualified psychotherapist in New York.

MyTherapist offers training and supervision by licensed mental health counselors and licensed marriage and family therapists.

Credentials for Mental health counselors vs Social workers in New York

 

Click the video above to see Dr. DeMarco explain unconditional acceptance in REBT.

sextherapistsnewyork

Dr. Michael DeMarco is a licensed mental health counselor (NY - 2337) licensed marriage and family therapist (NY - 136) and board certified clinical sexologist in private practice since 2002. Dr. DeMarco uses the original style of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) called Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) with individuals, couples and families. DeMarco has supervised clinicians at all levels since 2006, and has been an educator since 1999 ranging from middle school to the graduate level. As a clinician, Dr. DeMarco has been quoted in Cosmo, Esquire, GQ and other publications and has made media appearances on SpikeTV, HBO and is associate producer on "Sticky: A (Self) Love Story", a new documentary about masturbation.  Dr. DeMarco is available for sessions by appointment for sessions in English or French.

 

Insurance:

  • Aetna (*certain plans)
  • Beacon (*certain plans)
  • Cigna (in network)
  • Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield (in network)
  • Emblem/GHI/HIP (*certain plans)
  • MVP
  • Oscar (*certain plans)
  • United (*certain plans)
  • ValueOptions

Specialties:

  • Sex Therapy (Sexual Dysfunction, Sexual Identity, Gender Identity)
  • Anxiety & Mood Disturbances
  • Open Relationship Issues 

 

SEXUALITY

  • Bisexual Issues
  • Erectile dysfunction and difficulties
  • Gay Issues
  • Lesbian Issues
  • Premature Ejaculation
  • Transgender Identity
  • Sexual dysfunctions
  • Sexually compulsive behavior
  • Infidelity Counseling

 

 

Issues

  • Adjustment Issues, secular issues
  • Anger Management
  • Behavioral Issues
  • Career Counseling
  • Chronic Impulsivity
  • Coping Skills
  • Divorce
  • Emotional Disturbance
  • Family Conflict
  • Infidelity
  • Jealousy
  • Life Coaching
  • Medication Management
  • Men's Issues
  • Obsessive-Compulsive (OCD)
  • Open relationship issues
  • Self Esteem
  • Sexual Addiction and Compulsion
  • Video Game Addiction and Compulsion

Client Focus

Alternative Languages: French

verified by Psychology Today

Age

  • Preteens / Tweens (11 to 13)
  • Adolescents / Teenagers (14 to 19)
  • Adults
  • Elders (65+)

 

Treatment Approach

Treatment Orientation

  • Cognitive Behavioral (CBT)
  • Culturally Sensitive
  • Family / Marital
  • Humanistic
  • Imago
  • REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy)

Modality

  • Individual Psychotherapy
  • Couples Therapy
  • Non-traditional relationships (poly, open)

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THERAPY FOR INDIVIDUALS

Click above to see the father of modern psychotherapy explain some of the finer points 

Therapy for individuals, (also known as psychotherapy or counseling) focuses on working on the thinking that leads to unhealthy negative emotions (anger, anxiety, panic, depression, guilt, shame, etc) and the unhealthy, self-defeating behaviors that go with them. Using rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT), clients learn to identify what isn't working for them, and come up with a new set of directions to get where they want to be. Psychotherapy is not advice. Advice implies a right and wrong way to do things based on the therapist's own moral agenda or life experience.  Therapists are not advice columnists or friends. Therapists are not your moral guides, priests, gurus or rabbis. Therapists are trained to help identify how your thoughts and emotions might lead to behaviors that keep you feeling miserable. Therapy also doesn't mean you are sick, psycho, borderline, bipolar or crazy.  Therapy is for anyone.

THERAPY FOR COUPLES

If you're in a relationship, couples therapy (whether you call it pre-marital counseling,  marital therapy or relationship counseling) is probably appropriate. Couples counseling focuses on identifying what each of you want in your ideal relationship, and helping you communicate those desires in a compassionate and effective way. Using imago therapy with rational emotive behavioral therapy, the therapist will teach you how to communicate more effectively using validation and empathy, helping to change the pattern of fighting or poor communication.  Though the goal of couples therapy is to meet with each member of the relationship together, alternating between individual sessions and couples sessions for the first month or two of therapy is required to get a more complete picture of what's going on in your relationship.  Couples therapy involves examining various aspects of your relationship including career, finances, sex life, parenting, family of origin, and more. Think your issues are your own?  Maybe - but you are bringing those issues to your relationship. We want to work with you systemically, that means working through issues within the context of your larger relationships. For the sake of ease, we describe this in terms of 2 people in a couple, but we welcome and affirm whatever safe, sane and consensual relationship you have designed (open relationships, triads, poly, etc). All of our therapists are sex-positive, LGBTQ-affirming, kink aware and secular. Relationship therapy is not out to save your relationship at all costs. Couples therapists have no agenda about helping you save or end your relationship, but we are out to help you design a relationship that is ideal for the people involved. Sometimes the most successful couples therapy is when you decide this isn't the relationship for you. The world is your oyster!

THERAPY FOR GROUPS

Group therapy (also known as group counseling) focuses on multiple people working with the therapist on a similar issue.  Group therapy is often mistaken for a support group, which is facilitated by various members of the group.  In group therapy, the group is facilitated by a psychotherapist.  Group therapy is often more cost-effective than one-on-one therapy, and the benefit over a support group is that therapeutic interventions are employed by the therapists in addition to the supportive environment of the group. Group therapy has nothing to do with anything with the word "Anonymous" at the end, nor is it based on 12 Steps, etc.  Good group therapy, led by a therapist, can be a life-changing, empowering experience.

 

 

COUPLES Therapy, Counseling

RELATIONSHIP COACHING, MARRIAGE COUNSELING, Pre-Marital Counseling

We often get clients who tell us they haven't ever felt comfortable with other therapists talking about sexuality and other relationship issues. Therapists don't all have the training or the desire to deal with sexual issues. Who knew?! 

Our staff all have a particular interest working with sexuality issues, as well as the myriad other issues that come up in intimate relationships.   Our staff are lgbtq-affirming, often work with open relationships, poly relationships and families, relationships involving kink, and more. 

Couples therapy, (sometimes called relationship counseling or pre-marital or marital therapy, marriage counseling, etc) is a relatively short-term intervention to help you get the most satisfaction out of your intimate relationship(s).  In therapy, we want to create a safe space for you to create a common vision of your relationship, help you to communicate your needs and desires and to trust and accept your partner unconditionally (called unconditional other acceptance).  To do this, we alternate between seeing you as individuals one week, and together as a couple the following week, which encourages differentiation as well as relationship growth and evolution.  

Open relationship, poly Relationship Therapists and Coaching

openrelationshiptherapistnyc

Open relationships, polyamory, swingers, monogamish, compersion - who knew there was a whole world  of language out there beyond monogamy (where the thought is one man is married to one woman (or more recently with marriage equality) and that's the optimal way of relating). While many people find themselves in a pair bond, many people realize that sexual fidelity and monogamy is not the default relationship style. Working with a therapist who does not hold monogamy up as an ideal, enlightened state of being is important when working through the issues that might come up in opening your relationship or designing a relationship that works for you.

couplestherapynyc

Sex Therapy with our practice is evidence-based talk therapy focused on helping you to create the sex life that you find most fulfilling, not based on religious propaganda or pseudo-science.  According to Abraham Maslow, sex is one of the most very basic of human drives (even more basic than love).  Therapists specializing in sex therapy use this as a guiding principal.  

In the 21st Century, people talk more and more openly about sex.  The thing is, there are lots of people who claim to be "sex experts" just by virtue of having a degree in journalism or by having read "Fifty Shades of Grey". Sex therapy is something more than just talking to an advice columnist for an hour.

Parts aren't working the way you think they should?  We can help you sort out fact from fiction. Feel like your sex life is out of control?  You might be surprised to find out "sex addiction" and/or "porn addiction" are not accepted terms or diagnoses among therapists. Let's work on time management, honesty and basic sex education.

Sex therapy is for individuals and couples to sort out issues with masturbation, fantasy life, porn, fetishes, dating, sexual identity, gender identity, relationship style, infidelity issues (and often the desire to be non-monogamous or non-sexually faithful).  

Our therapists, mental health counselors or marriage and family therapists in New York,  have all been selected because they have a special interest in working with relationships and sexuality of all sorts. By using an evidence-based, yet warm and non-judgmental approach, you can be sure you're getting effective, modern couples therapy and sex therapy for the 21st Century.  

You have to struggle enough with people telling you who you should be and how you should behave- your therapist doesn't have to add to that.  In therapy you might find out some ways of relating intimately that you didn't know were possible.

 

Whether starting individual therapy, couples therapy or sex therapy, the process we follow is the same. We will meet with you individually to get some preliminary information and make some recommendations on how to move forward with us or with other clinicians. We use rational emotive behavior therapy as our main modality to teach you and your partner(s) the same basic language to get you on track for getting the love and sex life that works best for you.

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In sex therapy, we want our clients to take back ownership of their sexual expression so they can take an active role in designing the type of sex lives they want, rather than the kind they think they SHOULD have based on parents, poor sex education, religious baggage, etc.

Let's define some terms:

Here is a short list of terms to consider (which is by no means an exhaustive list- people have been very creative in coming up with all sorts of more exact terms by which to identify and categorize themselves!!):

 

Drag Queen: Also known as female impersonators.  These are usually gay men who impersonate women for entertainment purposes, but drag queens do not usually identify as women outside of their performances.

Gender role: Behaviors that are judged by society to be masculine or feminine.  Someone may have a gender role considered feminine by society, for example, a stay-at-home dad.  This does not necessarily reflect one’s sexual identity (gay or lesbian) nor does it necessarily reflect one’s gender identity (someone who is transgendered).

Gender non-conforming (gender queer): Sometimes considered to be a political term, people who are gender non-conforming or gender queer may reject the notion of human beings being separated into male and female with females “acting” feminine and men “acting” masculine (those are difficult terms to define in and of themselves). People who are gender non-conforming sometimes choose adjectives, pronouns and names that best suit them, which are often gender neutral.

Intersexed: An individual born with one of a handful of conditions where it may be difficult to clearly label the anatomic genitalia as male or female at birth.  Many people who are intersexed are assigned a gender arbitrarily and raised as that gender.  Sometimes this works, but sometimes this does not work and the individual spends their life being forced to have a gender identity that does not match their external anatomy.

Kink: Also known as fetish (community) are people who desire something other than the usual penis and vagina sexual intercourse.  Kink may include role play, costumes, or certain types of sex acts.  Kink or fetishism may be a problem when it stops being safe, sane and consensual.  Kink communities range from leather to people who like to fantasize about being shrunken down to a miniature size or tickled.  Kink aware professionals are therapists and other clinicians who understand different types of sexual expression and are not going to talk you into vanilla style sex and the missionary position if that's not what you're into.

Masturbation: also known, in modern terms, as fapping (usually for guys) and schlicking (for gals).  Masturbation is on the front line of human sexuality, and has been controversial for ages.  Our take is this: knowing how to pleasure yourself is completely normal and healthy, and will help you master a great sex life with other people, if that's what you choose to do. We might even assign masturbation exercises to work on at home to get a handle on erectile difficulties and premature ejaculation as well as problems reaching orgasm for women. If you feel like your self-love is problematic, come and talk to us! 

Open Relationship: By this we mean any sort of emotional or sexual relationship that is outside of you and one partner relationship. Recent terms include monogamish, polyamorous, swingers, etc.  Though many consider this a non-traditional relationship style, there are many people around the world who feel that who they are in love with and who they want to have sex with may or may not be the same person or people.  Monogamy is one relationship style on the planet, but by no means the only one.  Our therapists are poly-friendly professionals who do not hold up any one relationship style as "normal", and want to help you design the relationship that works best for YOU based on consent and open, honest discussion.

Sex addiction: Not easily defined, this controversial and ham-fisted explanation of human sexual behavior is not an actual psychological diagnosis, but something invented by people who would presume to define for others what a healthy level of sexual activity is, and what type of sexual is acceptable.  This is a concept that traces it's roots to 12 step program models that are not evidence based (think anything that ends with Anon or Anonymous). Can your sexual expression and behavior be unhealthy? Absolutely. But identifying as a sex addict because you don't fit into the model of husband and wife monogamy circa 1950 is more harmful than actually learning about and accepting the safe, sane and consensual sex life you are entitled to.

Sexual Identity: Sexual identity as it is understood currently is something different than gender identity, yet the two are often confused.

  • Gay men might be sexually and/or emotionally attracted to men.  Whether they behave in ways that are perceived to be masculine or feminine is irrelevant and nothing more than a social construct.  Gay men do not want to be women.
  • Lesbians might be sexually and/or emotionally attracted to women.  This doesn't mean they want to be men.
  • Bisexuals are not usually confused, sex addicted, greedy, etc. Bisexual people might be sexually and/or emotionally attracted to men and women.

It is reasonable that some people who at first identify as gay or lesbian are trying to figure out their gender identity at the same time, and may eventually realize that though they may be attracted to one or both sexes, the label they use may still depend on their internal gender identity. A broader view of sexual identity is that we are on a spectrum so nuanced that these labels are too constricting and might just serve as a shorthand.  Conversion therapy (also known as reparative therapy) has been banned in many states and most professional psychological and psychiatric associations across the world have denounced any sort of therapy that aims to "cure" queer people and/or that heterosexuality is more healthy than any other sexual identity.

Slut Shaming: A term that has really caught on within the last few years, slut shaming is associating any sort of negativity with safe, sane, consensual sexual expression. Dossie Easton says it best in her book "The Ethical Slut" - An ethical slut is someone who has the courage to "lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you".

Transgender/Transsexual: Someone who feels like their core gender identity, who they are on the inside, ie their soul, their mind, etc, does not match with their anatomic genitalia on the outside (gender dysphoria).  Both terms are generally used, although transsexual is sometimes used more often to describe people who have had sexual reassignment surgery. The process leading up to possible sexual reassignment surgery is called “transition”, where the individual is sometimes diagnosed by a mental health specialist with “gender identity disorder”, a controversial diagnosis that is still included in the DSM (the book psychiatrists use to diagnose mental illness).  This is not meant to imply that transgendered individuals are mentally ill, but the conflict of the inside and outside identity not matching can cause much internal and external conflicts.

Transvestite: Mostly heterosexual men who feel sexually aroused when dressing in women’s clothing.  These men don’t usually have a sense that they ARE women.  They have attached sexual arousal to women’s clothing as a kink or fetish.

 

Again - these are just a few terms to get you thinking about relationships and sexuality, and these terms might be defined differently by different people. That's the beautiful thing about sex, relationships and love- it means many different things to many different people. 

When is it therapy and when is it coaching?

 

LIFE COACHING

Coaching, as we see it, is more about setting some goals, then working on meeting those goals by designing some behavioral change strategies together with the coach. For life coaching, there might be slight conflicts or imbalance that you want to work out, but the emotions you're dealing with aren't like the ones we deal with in psychotherapy (anxiety, anger, guilt, depression).  In a coaching situation, we aren't working in terms of mental health diagnoses. Life coaching can be appropriate for any number of issues, so long as the level of disturbance doesn't reach crisis level where therapy might be more appropriate.

CAREER COACHING

Career coaching, or executive coaching involves identifying the various areas of difficulty you are having with career development and establishing a plan to address these difficulties.  Career counseling often involves discussing areas outside of work that affect your work life and sense of career fulfillment. In career counseling, expect to work on concrete areas such as re-writing your resume and cover letter, exploring different personality types for different jobs, interviewing skills, and more.

THERAPY FOR FAMILIES

Family therapy (also known as family counseling) focuses on identifying the maladaptive patterns that develop in the course of parenting that can lead to family conflict.  Often, one or two members of the family are identified as the trouble-makers and are sent to the psychotherapist to be "fixed".  Though the therapist meets with various members of the family individually, the focus of family therapy is to work with the entire family unit (or system) to identify each family member's role in the conflict and to address this both individually and as a family. Family therapy is especially useful when parents of children have divorced and are sharing custody, as parents often have different parenting styles and agendas.

Cultural Competency and the myth of being "politically correct"

You'd think everyone feels stress at one time or another-whether from work or financial responsibilities, credit scores or the like, right?  Well, it turns out, just being a member of a minority- whether that be cultural, racial, religious, ethnic or sexual minority- just existing has a whole extra level of angst- a concept known as minority stress.

In a nutshell, there's a whole extra layer of anxiety living in a society where you're not realistically portrayed on tv and in the media.  Black men portrayed as aggressive thugs.  Gay men portrayed as flamboyant interior designers.  Women portrayed as incapable sex objects, just asking to be raped.  Trans people barely portrayed at all.  Atheists dismissed as angry Satanists trying to take away your Christmas parties. There are countless other examples. 

May the odds be ever in your favor

Let's use "The Hunger Games" as an example. You know how people who live in the Capital views everyone in the outer districts as quaint little savages? And you know how everyone in the districts seem really broken and unhappy?  When something (a lifestyle, culture, ethnic group, religion) is presented as normal and decent and good, the people that find themselves matching up to that might not recognize how privileged a position they are in. Anyone who is outside of that normal, decent good paradigm is at risk of struggling with minority stress in addition to the other stressors that people have to deal with on the planet.

Remember in "The Hunger Games" how the privileged system makes sure it stays privileged? Fear. Celebrity. Police Violence.  More celebrity. Public floggings in the town square. And Effie just wants to have nice things. (I just want my bling, or my new iPhone, and it'll all be okay.)  And the people are pushed to their breaking points. Now go outside in any major city in the last few days. Look familiar? Only it's less appealing because there aren't pretty white, hetero actors to save the day. (Oh, and not seeing more diversity on screen? More minority stress.)

Asking for it

Have you heard the expression "You don't know what you don't know"? It's difficult to recognize that you are benefiting from being part of that default System branding of normal, decent and good. The result often manifests in the form of a microaggression. ("Aww, handsome fella like you, I bet all the ladies are after you! Why no ring on that finger?!" Uhh, I'm gay.) Micro-aggressions are like little slaps in the face all day reminding you that the System thinks heterosexual coupling and marriage are normal, decent, good and desirable, for instance. In some cases, the speaker has no concept that there could even be other options.  I was once interviewed for a job as a therapist and the interviewer, a social worker in rural Missouri said "You know, we're a family-friendly hunting and fishing community". Uhh - WTF?! So heterosexuality, guns and meat-eating for all- conform or you're not welcome.  This kind of talk is a subtle way of a member of the System exerting the will of the System.

"Oh, you don't LOOK Mexican"

So when people who aren't part of the default system try to stand up and make themselves heard, the response from the System is often something like "Here comes the thought police. Sorry, I'm not politically correct." Cognitive distortions, such as self-serving bias (why are you people so angry, *I* didn't do anything to you- jeeze, it's like reverse racism or something! The bullied are just big bullies - that's not fair!") or victim blaming ("Well, if those gays just didn't dress as women in a black neighborhood, they wouldn't have been shot by those mean black people.") are common. And these biases are just reinforced by versions of this narrative shown over and over until the next news cycle.  

Let's continue with this example. This is the System saying - homos are asking for it by acting like women. This is the System saying women are weak. This is the System saying white neighborhoods are safe and blacks are violent. This is "othering" in action.  Women might see this in the news and think  "Wait- WTF?!- what's wrong with dressing like a woman?! Women deserve to be shot?!"  A person of color might see this with a - WTF- ANOTHER news item selected to reinforce violent black stereotypes?! And if you're gay you see this  like- WTF - gay men don't deserve to be SHOT regardless of what type of clothes they are wearing- oh, and we don't act like women.  And if you're a trans woman you see this and are like- WTF?! - I'm not a gay man - and I can't even wear the clothes I feel most comfortable in because I might get SHOT?! Other groups who might not be related to the issue of the day see this as yet another example of the System working only for the System and not for anyone else- and it's like an extra bit of generalized anxiety added to the minority life until the next news cycle. Say anything, and you're painted as an angry activist, or playing some sort of victim card, or you're dismissed as playing "politically correct" though police/ social justice warrior role.

The People sometimes try to fight back by organizing Black Lives Matters protests or Gay Pride marches or celebrating the accomplishments of blacks or gays or women throughout history. And how are these counter-messages received?  "ALL" Lives Matter- you're being racist. Or worse "BLUE Lives Matter"- why do you hate cops?!) Every year someone tries to organize "Straight Pride" or "White History month". Whatever the System can do to stamp out dissent.

People of the System - if activists seem angry to you, then you don't know what you don't know. If you think "the pc thought police" are after you, taking away your freedom of expression, you don't know what you don't know. And what you don't know is that you're perfectly on brand according to the System, and you are part of the oppression of others. The blacks aren't here to hurt you, and they don't want to be addressed with language that came from slavers. The gays aren't here to ruin marriage or degrade "Family Values", and though we are reclaiming Queer as an inclusive identity, we don't want to be addressed as homosexuals and faggots. The feminists aren't here to ruin video games, and they don't want to be addressed as toots, sweetheart or the 'lil lady (or as a piece of ass, Mr. Drumpf and Mr. Stern). Native Americans aren't hear to ruin football, and want to be addressed and acknowledged as the original Americans. And we aren't "uppity" (another common way to dismiss) - we're challenging whole lifetimes of exclusion or negative portrayals by the various machines you use to reinforce your brand and we're tired of being told to know our place. It's hateful to call us by words you've invented to demean and objectify us. We will decide how we want to be addressed, and we will decide again as language and issues evolve.

What do I do?

So what do you do if you find yourself struggling with the concepts of minority stress? Well, sometimes you protest, sometimes you riot.  In some cases you suppress the anxiety and rage by trying to pass as part of the System.  Sometimes you try to trust in change and put your faith in politicians or church leaders. In some cases you do your best to snatch up anything the System has to offer to better your life and those around you as best you can (while trying to keep a strong sense of self and establish a community of like-minded people to help manage it all).  And sometimes you move from one coping strategy to the other several times a day- and that, my friends,  is exhausting.  And when people feel exhausted and are already marginalized, they aren't always going to be able to take the high road- the road, incidentally, that completely avoids the System having to make meaningful, fundamental changes.

I wish I had easy answers. The best I can come up with is to all help share the load by sharing our experiences with whoever will listen until we begin to recognize the value, variety and dignity in everyone. Is that just pollyannaism? I don't think progress comes from isolating and shutting it all up inside- I'm a therapist after all- our whole m.o. is to talk about things to work through them. And we need to keep talking about things - not working out positive ways to deal with minority stress and existential crises just leads to things like PTSD- something else that has been shown again and again to affect all kinds of minorities.  

You wanna be "woke"? Turn off the tv

Reading magazines, shopping on Black Friday, watching celebrities give themselves awards, reality tv, local news, obsessing over Facebook or instagram likes- these are all distractions that might help you cope in the short term, but distractions that will ultimately keep you- keep US, from healing. Don't just submit, conform, consume and obey. (Watch the movie "The Live"!) Actively share your experience in any way you can - from debating people who disagree with you on Facebook to finding out more about out what you don't know, giving tv interviews about your experiences, therapy sessions, support groups, meeting with your elected leaders, writing op-ed pieces, blogs or creating music or other kinds of art- all of these are real ways to heal and foster change. These are all ways to be heard. Jennifer Lawrence is not Katniss Everdeen, and she isn't going to be the voice of any revolution. (Yay strong female lead, but boo white savior trope). No one is totally "woke" - it's an evolution- and we can all learn more about each other and how we can improve by seeing how our experiences compare and contrast.

 We're all in this together.

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