Affirmative Practice and Alternative Sexual Orientations: Helping Clients Navigate the Coming Out Process
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Those who differ from the dominant heterosexual ideal of exclusively other-sex attraction and intimacy encounter unique challenges, such as the coming out process, during which individuals with alternative sexual orientations must explore, define, and disclose their orientations in a way straight individuals need not. This article focuses on how clinicians can aid clients throughout the coming out process in a way that affirms the full range of sexual orientations. Following an overview of alternative sexual orientations and models of the coming out process, a case example is used to illustrate how clinicians can help clients address three challenges of coming out: overcoming internalized biases; clarifying their sexual orientation and identity; and making decisions about disclosure.