LGBTQIA+ Affirming Mental Health Care in Beverly Hills, CA
What is LGBTQIA+ Affirming Care?
The literature defines “affirming” care as care that is not just inclusive of LGBTQIA+ people, but actively celebrates them and encourages their identities. This type of care is culturally competent as well as including the voices of LGBTQIA+ patients and advocates in their policies. Dr. Amir Ahuja proudly offers LGBTQIA+ affirming care to individuals throughout the Beverly Hills and West Hollywood area.
Aspects of LGBTQIA+ Affirming Care
There are many issues unique to the LGBTQIA+ community that Dr. Ahuja considers so that his care is tailored specifically for those in the LGBTQIA+ community.
in order to best serve the LGBTQIA+ community, the LGBT Center has inclusive paperwork and open-ended and write-in fields for patients to use to describe themselves in many ways. We also use inclusive language and emphasize preferred names and pronouns. We are curious and open-minded when discussing these issues with patients, understanding that preferred terminology can change over time and needs to be consistently updated.
We are sensitive to the fact that LGBTQIA+ people have unique issues when it comes to substance use. These include congregating in spaces that are substance-use-heavy, using particular substances primarily during sex, such as methamphetamine or GHB, and lack of family-of-origin support in dealing with addiction. Of course, this does not apply to everyone, but we frequently encounter patients dealing with one or more of these issues. To combat this, we have inclusive signage and public health campaigns, multiple groups focused on harm-reduction as well as sobriety, outpatient and intensive outpatient groups depending on a patient’s stage of change, and concurrent sex addiction groups and treatment if needed. We also have sober Pride events at the LGBT Center and other sober gatherings to encourage spaces that are not substance-heavy.
Couples Therapy for the LGBTQIA+ Community
Dr. Ahuja offers couples and relationship therapy. For many couples, this focuses on communication in a non-judgmental environment to discuss loyalty, honesty, and trust. We feel this is important to provide for all couples, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, and should be open to throuples or other non-traditional intimate family units.
Regarding Intimate Partner Violence, for which we have the largest program for LGBTQIA+ people in the world, we have a different approach. Research says that, in these cases, couples therapy is contraindicated. Instead, we have individual and group therapy as well as social resources to assist Victims, Defending Victims, Secondary Aggressors, and Aggressors depending on their role in the IPV and their unique needs. We have found this works best and it is preceded by a complex assessment to determine the nature of the IPV and the patient’s role in it. This assessment is crucial so that an individual is put into the right care so that they get the best possible outcome from their treatment.
Why Should You See Dr. Ahuja?
Currently, Dr. Amir Ahuja is a leading voice for the LGBTQ community. As the Director of Psychiatry at the LA LGBT Center, the largest LGBT Center in the world, he oversees a team that sees over 2500 clients. In addition, he is the President of AGLP: The Association of LGBTQ+ Psychiatrists, the nation’s leading organization for LGBTQ+ healthcare providers and their clients.
Dr. Ahuja has a unique background in LGBTQIA+ activism and scholarly work. Through many presentations and research articles, his work has been frequently cited in the literature regarding LGBTQIA+ mental health. Dr. Ahuja is currently writing a book about LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence which will be released soon.
Meet Dr. Ahuja
“As the President of AGLP: The Association of LGBTQ Psychiatrists, and the President of the LGBTQ Caucus of the American Psychiatric Association, I advocate for policy positions based on sound psychiatric research on mental health outcomes. I also am the Director of Psychiatry at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which is the largest LGBT Center in the world. We serve nearly 2000 patients there and that has given me a wealth of clinical experience in this area. Finally, as an out gay man and a South Asian, I have personal experience being a double minority which informs much of the work that I do.”
What is the Importance of LGBTQIA+ Affirming Care?
The importance of LGBTQIA+ affirming care cannot be overstated. In the current political environment, in particular, we have seen an uptick in members of the community questioning and not trusting medical professionals. Sometimes this is for good reason, given the persistence of conversion therapy and bans on medical care. We need more providers that are open and can be trusted in order to encourage members of the LGBTQIA+ community to get regular care.
We know consistent healthcare that is preventive in nature and starts early has better outcomes, and we also know that people get less health care when they feel discriminated against or have bad medical care experiences. So, it is Dr. Ahuja’s hope that he can do his part to change that.