Supporting the Whole Person
By SCOTLAND MARTIN
Although Pride Month ended in June, Family Services envisions a community where we all work together to make sure each community member is encouraged and feels safe to openly experience life as their authentic selves year-round.
LGBTQ+ people are more at risk for trauma and suicide rates in comparison to heterosexual and/or cisgender counterparts, according to Licensed Mental Health Counselor Nikki Hernandez.
“One’s identities and orientation are intersectional, and so we need mindfulness, awareness and compassion when approaching people, she said.
“Essential and intersectional work”
As a member of the counseling team at Family Services, Nikki provides service to individuals and families from a spectrum of backgrounds and experiences. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community herself, Nikki understands the necessity of this work and how each person’s unique experiences fit into that work.
The areas of counseling that Nikki specializes in are stress, anxiety, depression, impairment in relational/social and other major life areas, domestic violence, mood disorders, grief and loss, trauma history, and other significant life changes.
“We want to include everybody, and that requires special training,” Nikki said.
Through the multiple training sessions Family Services implements for its counseling team, Nikki said she’s been able to take advantage of extensive LGBTQ+ training. Still, she’s supplemented that with additional training, including supporting LGBTQ+ youth who have experienced bullying in school.
“Pride does not stand alone.”
It’s important to note that the counselors at Family Services are interested in ensuring that each client is honored for their unique combination of identity, needs and experiences.
“The reality is, someone’s sexual orientation and their gender identity aren’t the only considerations. Race, age, experience, and more, are also involved. There are layers, and we must be mindful,” Nikki said.
And the various departments at Family Services work together to ensure the safety, wellness, and prosperity of all families and individuals. Remaining nimble and proactive, Family Services understands that building a healthy and sustainable community requires commitment. For information on counseling and other services provided by Family Services, visit FamilyServicesForsyth.org