Case vignette

Practicing identity-centered care with LGBQ patients.

Inclusive Language Illustration

Practicing identity-centered care with LGBQ patients.

A clinician takes an identity-centered approach when getting to know a new patient.

A clinician takes an identity-centered approach when getting to know a new patient.

Dr. Park

Hi, I am Dr. Shane Park. You can call me Shane, Dr. P or Dr. Park. I use he/him pronouns. What name do you go by and what are your pronouns?

Kalen

Hey Dr. P. I go by Kalen with most people and by Kal with my best friends. You can say he/him for me.

Dr. Park

Thanks. It’s nice to meet you, Kalen. I want to start by getting to know who you are as a person and what’s important in your life. Can you share some of the most important things about who you are and about your life?

Kalen

Um, I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what is important about who I am.

Dr. Park

Well, that’s ok, why don’t I start. Some of the most important things about me are my identities of Korean-American, queer, and a therapist. My relationships with friends and family, getting enough sleep, and spending time with my dog are also important to me.

Kalen

That makes sense. I guess for me it’s that my parents just got divorced, I’m pan, and I’m biracial. Oh, I also like playing tennis and am thinking more about going to college.

Dr. Park

These all seem like really important things to know about you. Thank you for sharing with me. If you feel comfortable sharing, what is it like for you to be pansexual and biracial around here?

Kalen

Wow, um, I don’t know. It’s been alright. I had a hard time with people in middle school but that's gotten better since I started high school. I have good friends now. No doctor has ever talked to me about this before.

Dr. Park

You know, the world makes it harder to live life how you want to when you are pan, biracial, or get labeled as “different” in any way. For us to work well together to meet your goals, it is important that we acknowledge how injustices in the world affect your mental health.

Kalen

Yea, it can actually be pretty rough. My girlfriend broke up with me when I came out as pan and it was so bad. Then in the middle of that my parents got divorced and it’s just too depressing sometimes.

Dr. Park

I’m sorry that you’re going through all of this at once. It sounds like it’s been awfully hard on you. What kinds of things have you found that help you feel better?

Kalen

Um, hanging out with my friends helps. I’ve been spending more time doing theater after school and I like that. And I do drink sometimes. I forgot about that.

Dr. Park

OK, I can see you’ve been working on figuring out how to cope with these feelings and big changes, and that’s such a positive thing. Let’s keep talking about your life and mental health and come up with some goals and a plan together. How does that sound?

Kalen

Thanks, I’d really like that.

Things to consider.

01

Offering your own preferred name, pronouns, and important identities models vulnerability, decreases the power differential inherent in health care relationships, and increases patient safety and trust. 

02

It is critical that clinicians acknowledge the role of structural stigma and discrimination in LGBQ mental health, recognize patient resilience factors, and invite the patient to be an active partner in defining their mental health concerns and treatment goals.

Question to think about:

How do you think that proactively sharing your identities could positively impact your patients’ care experience and outcomes?