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Gay Therapy LA: The Healthy Aging Project for Gay Men

Gay Therapy LA presents…

happy middle aged man and pet dog outdoors

The Healthy Aging Project

for Gay Men

Services include help and support for any challenges related to:

– Mood Disorders (Depression, Anxiety, Bereavement)

– Coping with Illness (Diabetes, Cancer, Hip Replacement, Heart Disease, Obesity)

– Career Transitions (Mid-Life Changes, Curtailing Work, Leaving Work, Retirement Activities)

– Relationships (Partner/Spouse, Children, Exes, Roommates, Friends/Peers)

– Sex (Opportunities, Risk Management, Sexual Health, Pleasures)

– Self-Care (Weight, Body Image, Diet, Exercise, Stress Management, Independent Function, Social Relationships)

– Finances (Retirement Planning, Investing, Household Management, Health Care)

– Legacy (Wills, Philanthropy, Community Advocacy, Supporting Youth)

Gay Men and Aging

At Gay Therapy LA, founder and director Ken Howard, LCSW, and his team of clinical staff help gay men (individuals and couples) thrive at any age.  As the population of Americans ages, so do the gay men in America today.  The “Baby Boomers” and others need specific support for the kinds of life challenges they face.

Aging can bring rewards and wisdom, but also special challenges.  At Gay Therapy LA, and our new Healthy Aging Project for Gay Men, we have designed services specifically for addressing the concerns of the older gay man, both individuals and couples.  Aging can bring challenges that youth doesn’t, such as “gay men’s invisibility” over 40, the gay community’s tendency to be focused on (and only validate) youth or youthful beauty, and divisions within our own ranks.  Gay men “of a certain age” might be coping with lingering challenges such as depression, anxiety, trauma, or other challenges to mental health that they have struggled to manage in the past.  The special medical challenges of middle-aged or senior gay men mirror those of straight men, but these need to be put in a specific gay men’s context for “cultural competency”, which is the ability of a therapist or mental health professional to help a client with objective clinical challenges but with considerations for how gay male culture can bring special challenges that straight men, straight women, or even lesbians don’t face.

Since often gay men don’t have children (although some do), gay men have tended to focus a lot on their careers in a lifetime, with the rewards that can bring, but also the stress of many responsibilities and demands to balance our professional and personal lives.  As work might start to take a lesser role in our lives, through pre-retirement curtailing of some activities to outright retirement, we need specific support for those transitions to give life a sense of purpose, direction, and meaning.

As a gay man’s body changes over time, we need support for dealing with challenges to our self-concept, body image, appearance, and functioning.  We need education and resources on how to mitigate physical illness or body challenges so that we look, feel, and function to our maximum enjoyment in life.  As we grow through to middle age or seniorhood, our finances need to be managed carefully so that we are practicing good self-care for our long-term security, for us, a possible partner/spouse, children, or other family, for the very long term to live in security for the rest of our lives.

As gay men age, it becomes increasingly important to us to think about our life’s meaning and legacy, and how we can contribute to the long-term future of the LGBT community, and identify ways to do our part to support the communities, causes, and organizations that are our important to us in our own personal value systems.

Aging for gay men (just like for everyone) is multi-factoral.  There are emotional, physical, interpersonal, spiritual, social, financial, political, and community aspects that change over time around us, just as there are changes in our minds and bodies over time.  Without support, gay men in particular might be vulnerable to extra liabilities that straight men and women don’t face, such as the specter of continued anti-gay discrimination, invisibility, marginalization, and collective invalidation of our needs.  We need professionals and service providers who understand — and validate — our unique needs.  We need systems for getting and staying connected to supportive resources for our mental health, health, work/home functioning, and community.

With the right combination of coordinated supportive services, our functioning can be as sound and robust (or more) in our later years as it was in our youth.  Healthy aging for gay men is not only a hope, it is an opportunity and a right.

Services Available

How is this accomplished?  At Gay Therapy LA, we make these support services available to you.  Mental health counseling/therapy, life/career coaching, case management (resource linkage), individual work, couples/relationship counseling, and support groups are part of them.  Having a staff of clinicians who “get it” when it comes to the specifics of gay-affirmative therapy, in a cultural (LGBT) and developmental, even existential, context, is key.  At Gay Therapy LA, we have a team of collected expertise that can help, led by Ken Howard, LCSW, and supported by others who offer service excellence by their education, clinical skills, and perspectives.  Ken is available Monday through Friday, but other services are available 7 days a week, day and evening.  Fees are on a sliding scale, based on your individual circumstances of income/resources that are assessed and discussed, and receipts for health insurance plans (PPO) that offer “out-of-network” (for Ken) or “intern/associate” (other staff) reimbursement are available.

Background 

Ken Howard, LCSW, is the most experienced gay men’s specialist therapist in Southern California (Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, West LA, downtown LA, San Fernando Valley, etc.).  For over 24 years, he has focused almost exclusively on serving the community of gay men and others in the LGBT community.  He has lived in West LA or West Hollywood for over 33 years, and has “walked the talk” of living and working in the local gay community, including surviving and thriving for over 26 years as  person living with HIV/AIDS.  He has worked at the LA LGBT Center, AIDS Project Los Angeles, LA Shanti, Being Alive, Life Group LA, SPECTRUM, Los Angeles Family AIDS Network, UCLA/Pacific AIDS Education and Training Center, and chaired the LA County HIV Mental Health Task Force for 9 years, and has been a consultant on social services to the City of West Hollywood.  He has served as a legal expert witness on gay men’s issues, and is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the graduate MSW program of the USC School of Social Work, teaching advanced classes in clinical practice, including gay-affirmative therapy and models of support for more severe/persistent psychiatric conditions.  He is a graduate of UCLA and USC School of Social work.  He lives in West Hollywood with his husband of 14 years, after over 17 years of being single and navigating the dating world.  Over the years of his practice and non-profit organization career, Ken has helped hundreds of gay men assess, intervene, and resolve many different kinds of problems and challenges, and gain the skills required to face aging for an optimistic and empowered future.

Next Steps

For information on services for support for you, from Ken or from one of his staff clinicians at Gay Therapy LA, please call/text 310-339-5778 for a free, 15-minute consultation for more information or to make an appointment.