Leone Centre Glossary

Sexual Orientation in LGBTQI Therapy

Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation refers to an individual’s pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to others. It is a fundamental aspect of personal identity, encompassing various orientations such as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, and asexual, among others.

Common challenges

Individuals often face unique challenges related to their sexual orientation. These can include societal stigma, internalised prejudices, and difficulties in identity exploration. Such challenges can impact mental health and well-being, making it essential to address them within a therapeutic context.

Therapeutic importance

In LGBTQI therapy, understanding and affirming a client’s sexual orientation is of utmost importance. This awareness helps create a supportive and inclusive environment where clients feel validated and understood. Recognising the diverse experiences of individuals based on their sexual orientation is key to therapeutic practice.

Therapy practices

Therapists must approach issues related to sexual orientation with sensitivity and care. Key considerations include maintaining a non-judgmental attitude, being aware of one’s own biases, and seeking ongoing education about LGBTQI issues. Affirming sexual orientation in therapy can enhance the therapeutic relationship and improve outcomes for clients.

Key concepts

Sexual orientation is distinct from gender identity, which refers to an individual’s internal sense of their gender. Both are important aspects of identity, but they involve different experiences and considerations in therapy.

Incorporating an understanding of sexual orientation into therapy practices helps address the specific needs of LGBTQI clients. It promotes a more holistic approach to mental health and well-being, acknowledging the integral role of sexual orientation in an individual’s life.

Common questions

What is sexual orientation?
Sexual orientation refers to an individual’s pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to others.
How does sexual orientation differ from gender identity?
Sexual orientation is about who you are attracted to, while gender identity is about your own sense of your gender.
Why is understanding sexual orientation important in therapy?
Understanding sexual orientation is important for providing affirming and supportive therapy, which can significantly improve mental health outcomes.
How can therapy help with issues related to sexual orientation?
Therapy can provide a safe space to explore and affirm one’s sexual orientation, address any related challenges, and promote overall well-being.


  1. Smith, L. (2020). Understanding LGBTQI Identities. Therapy Today Journal.
  2. Jones, A. (2019). Inclusive Practices in Therapy. Journal of Counselling & Development.
  3. Brown, R. (2021). Sexual Orientation and Mental Health. Psychology Press.
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision