Sexual orientation and gender are important aspects of a young adult’s identity.

Identity formation is a life-long process impacted by genetics, early life experiences, and influential relationships. Even though this process begins at an early age and develops over a lifetime, young adulthood is a time of great physical, mental, and social exploration. This exploration may include sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Some individuals start identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning (LGBTQ) as children or adolescents, though others may not feel safe to explore their sexuality and gender until their late teens or 20s. 

In the years following high school, you may move out for the first time, attend college, or start your first full-time job. The ability to immerse yourself in a new environment and interact with diverse people changes how we perceive ourselves and the world we live in. We are often able to step out into the world on our own and experience life in new ways. This can allow for a further understanding of ourselves in terms of sexuality and gender.

One challenge many young adults may face is dating. For some, this may be the first opportunity an individual has to engage in romantic relationships, which can be both exciting and stressful. For those LGBTQ individuals who were unable to date or come out in adolescence, the prospect of dating may be overwhelming. Talking with a counselor can help you to explore relational concepts, including setting healthy relationship boundaries and recognizing potential red flags. 

Whether you came out years ago or are struggling with how to be open with friends and family, our psychologists can help you to gain a deeper understanding of your gender identity and/or sexual orientation, as well as create a welcoming environment that facilitates open discussion and further awareness.

Research suggests that young adults who identify as LGBTQ are at an increased risk for depressionanxiety, low self-esteem, self-defeating behaviors, and suicide, especially when they feel rejected from family and peers. Individuals during this time may also worry whether they are accepted by friends and family, if they will be harassed or discriminated against, or even if they will feel safe in their living environment if they identify as LGBTQ. Counseling can help. Our psychologists can help you to better communicate your needs and concerns in a supportive space. Together with a therapist, you will be able to brainstorm real solutions and coping skills that are uniquely tailored to your experience.