This is the "Who am I?" stage associated with the feeling that one is different from their peers This stage also is characterized by a growing sense of personal alienation. The person begins to be conscious of same-sex feelings or behaviors and to label them as such. It is rare at this stage for the person to disclose inner turmoil to others (website).
In terms of career counseling, a person in this stage may start to look at careers that are outside of their comfort zone. A LGBT person may start to take note of careers that are outside of their tradition gender rolls. For example, a lesbian identified person may have some interest in career in construction or in a trade that may me male dominated. I think the main point to take note about this phase is that is seems to be very internal. The LGBT identified person is really just coming to grips with who they are.
Stage 2: Identity Comparison
This is the rationalization or bargaining stage where the person thinks, "I may be a homosexual, but then again I may be bisexual," "Maybe this is just temporary," or, "My feelings of attraction are simply for just one other person of my own sex and this is a special case." There is a heightened sense of not belonging anywhere with the corresponding feeling that "I am the only one in the world like this." (website).
In terms of career counseling, I think this stage is kind of like the rational phase. A LGBT identified person may start searching for careers that our outside of the standard they me accustom to. However, it seems that a LGBT person may assess how they would fit into a traditional career. I feel that this phase generates a lot of uncertainty for that person in terms of how they will be treat...
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... on. I feel the person is ready to fully incorporate their expertise into their work. It is at this stage a LGBT identified person can take their drive for new challenges started in stage 5 and embark on new and exiting career and life paths.
I think it is a good idea to take note of the identity crisis a LGBT may be going through, in terms of their career. I would say from counselor standpoint by helping the client provide perspective. As well, it gives the client hope of a ultimate fruitful career. As well, I feel that by keeping these stages in mind will help the client take that hope and create a narrative for a career that will truly fit them symbiotically with their values, goals and needs.
Adapted from Vivian Cass (1979, 1984, 1990). In Ritter and Terndrup (2002)
Handbook of Affirmative Psychotherapy with Lesbians and Gay Men
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