Understanding emotional dependency in the current context

Understanding emotional dependency in the current context

In recent years, psychology has experienced a significant boom, extending beyond traditional consultations to infiltrate social media and consumer culture. Its increasingly prominent presence has shaped our interpretation of life, becoming a common tool to label individual experiences and the dynamics in our relationships. However, amid this abundance of knowledge, “tips” and practical guides, there is also room for misinformation.

Emotional dependency is one of these concepts of modern psychology that is widely spread on the internet and has become largely integrated into our understanding of relationships. Mainly, it is used as a negative label to define relationships in which certain dynamics are present or the people involved in them. We have all heard things like «this person doesn’t know how to be alone» or «he/she is too dependent on others».

Despite the growing prevalence of individualistic values in our society, it’s undeniable that humans need others in various ways. So, what is emotional dependency really? Have we internalized a truly beneficial discourse about what constitutes emotional dependency?

1. Relationships in the current context: what do we see in psychology clinics?

In my professional experience, it is common to hear people who come to therapy explaining that they suffer from a problem of «emotional dependency» because they feel a strong need to form affective relationships with other people, or because they feel hurt when their relationships go through problems or break down. Sometimes, these people express a desire to achieve total independence, with a narrative along the lines of «I shouldn’t need anyone to be happy».

Entendiendo la dependencia emocional en el contexto actual 2

It is really positive that people are able to achieve emotional well-being without being in a relationship or at times when their meaningful relationships with others are more limited. That a person can be autonomous, organize their life plans around their own desires and decide when to share moments with others can greatly benefit their psychological health. However, it is necessary to be cautious not to fall into a simplified or extreme conception of the emotional dependence/independence dimension.

From sociology, authors such as Eva Illouz have pointed out how the modern era has encouraged us to focus on individual autonomy, placing value on each person’s ability to satisfy their individual needs. This new perspective, although positive in many ways, has also led us to consider the need to form deep and stable emotional bonds as secondary.

2. Can we differentiate between a healthy emotional connection and a harmful emotional dependency?

Dependency, in its most general understanding, implies the need of something in order to live. In Maslow’s famous pyramid of needs, the need for love and acceptance by others is in third place, following physiological and security needs. In this sense, we all need to form relationships with other people, so, understood in this way, «emotional dependency» can be conceived as inherent to human beings.

However, although meaningful and authentic relationships contribute greatly to people’s emotional well-being, we know that they are not always easy. Sometimes conflicts or negative emotions can arise in relationships. From the point of view of individual psychological well-being, we might wonder, should we never experience negative emotions in a healthy relationship? Are these emotions an indicator of emotional dependence?

The answer is not necessarily. Negative emotions and emotional pain are part of life, and although they sometimes indicate the need for change, they do not necessarily imply a break with our relationships with which we associate them. Emotional maturity involves recognizing negative emotions and trying to understand and manage them to the best of our ability.

Entendiendo la dependencia emocional en el contexto actual 3

So, when do we talk about a detrimental emotional dependency? Well, these relationships occur when we enter the relationship from the need for the other person to take care of things that we cannot take care of ourselves, rather than from the desire for mutual accompaniment and care. That is to say, when we look for the other person to fulfill a «role » that, in reality, would correspond to ourselves.

Some examples could be the following: entering into a relationship looking for the other person to repair deep self-esteem problems; looking for the other person to take care of things that it would be good, even necessary, to be able to do by oneself; looking to be always accompanied, asking the other for a total dedication to the relationship in terms of space and time; etc.

In other words, detrimental emotional dependence has to do with the place from which we seek and shape our relationships.

3. Is emotional dependence always linked to a lack of self-esteem?

“Emotional dependency» is often associated with a “lack of self-esteem”. But actually, it is valid to seek validation and appreciation in our connections with others. It is normal to crave belonging and love in our interactions, whether in relationships, family or friendships.

However, it is crucial to recognize that building a strong self-esteem goes beyond external validation. It is not possible to place our entire sense of self-worth or the repair of self-esteem issues on the reaffirmation of the love of others. While it is good to feel chosen and appreciated in a relationship, true self-esteem repair involves deeper internal processes at the individual level.

In any case, the underlying cause of forming emotionally dependent relationships does not always have to do with a lack of «self-love», but there are other reasons, such as strong fear of abandonment or of being alone, family patterns from which we have learned, the constant need for security or fear of uncertainty, or the idealization of the partner as the only source of support and satisfaction.

4. What are the risks of remaining in an emotionally dependent relationship?

The risks of remaining in an emotionally dependent relationship are diverse. These include: the difficulty to renounce the relationship in the face of behaviors that are harmful to the person, including abuse or mistreatment; forming the relationship without any real desire and maintaining it only for the function it fulfills for us; the tendency to adapt one’s own way of being to please the partner; the experience of the relationship from negative emotions, such as jealousy, which can lead to behaviors that are hurtful to the other, such as excessive control; and, ultimately, the risk of avoiding facing the internal problems that lead us to enter into this type of relationship.

Entendiendo la dependencia emocional en el contexto actual 4

5. How can we approach emotional dependency?

As we have seen throughout the article, the reasons why we develop dependent relationships are not generalizable. Faced with discomfort in relationships, the most appropriate thing to do is to turn to a professional psychologist who can guide us in understanding our personal situation, taking into account our inner functioning, personal history and context.

In any case, there are some generalizable processes that can help us to cope with a problem of harmful emotional dependence. On the one hand, the acceptance of one’s own emotional pain and the understanding of it as a human and natural response. On the other hand, self-compassion, moving away from self-blame to observe our pain with tenderness, as we would do with a good friend. Also, taking responsibility for this process of self-knowledge, in order to be able to make more conscious decisions about the relationships we wish to build. Finally, I think it is very important to look for bonds outside the relationship, such as friendships, communities or support groups, in which to reinforce the accompaniment and connection with other people.

About the author

Emma is a health psychologist at Sinews. She treats adults and adolescents who come for consultation for problems such as anxiety, depression, grief, self-esteem, emotional self-esteem, emotional dependency… In addition, she is a specialist in the treatment of trauma. She performs her interventions from an integrative approach, which includes an exploration of primary bonding relationships from the perspective of the attachment theory, as well as an approach to the problem from a cognitive-behavioral approach to the problem from a cognitive-behavioral perspective, using effective techniques according to each patient’s needs.

Emma Chancellor Díez
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Emma Chancellor Díez
Adults and adolescents
Languages: English and Spanish
See Resumé

Entendiendo la introversión- ventajas de ser una persona introvertida

Understanding introversion: advantages of being an introvert

«I don’t feel like going out, but people are going to think I’m boring»
«In big groups, I tend to get overwhelmed. I prefer to listen rather than participate in the conversation»
«I find it hard to talk about my stuff with others, I need time and trust»
«I really like to spend time alone; I need it to relax.»

These are some of the phrases we may hear an introvert say. Approximately one third of the population tends to introversion. However, in the western societies, introversion has been culturally associated with negative traits: weirdness, boredom or lack of social skills. Therefore, in our society, introverted people often find it difficult to integrate and take advantage of this aspect of themselves. In reality, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being introverted. This article is going to describe the psychological concepts introversion/extraversion and address both the challenges, as well as the advantages, of being an introvert.

What does it mean to be introverted? Introversion vs. Extraversion

In 1921, Carl Gustav Jung, an admired psychologist who significantly influenced personality psychology, identified two main attitudes towards life, coining the terms introversion and extraversion:

  • Extraverted attitude: leads people to focus on the outside world, interactions with others and the environment.
  • Introverted attitude: It has to do with a greater interest in internal stimulation, that is, in internal processes such as reflection and contemplation.

Later, Hans Eysenck followed this theory focusing on the social aspect of the introversion/extraversion dimension, arguing that introverted people «charge their batteries» by being alone or in small groups, while extroverted people «charge their batteries» through external interactions.

In addition, Eysenck proposed a neuropsychological basis for this theory by relating extraversion/introversion to cortical activation. According to his contributions, introverts have higher cortical activation at rest and therefore seek quietness and reflection to balance it. In contrast, extroverts have lower cortical activation at rest and seek external stimulation to increase their level of activation.

In recent decades, multiple personality models have been developed that add nuances to these psychological concepts. But in general, extraverted people are defined as those who are interested in the outside world, open, expressive and willing to meet new people and places. More introverted people are those who pay more attention to their internal processes than to the outside world, who are more comfortable in small groups and more interested in contemplative activities.

Is it possible to be purely introverted or extroverted?

The boom in psychology in recent years has led many people to try to know themselves better. We can hear people defining themselves as introverts or extroverts to explain certain behaviors or aspects of themselves. But are we purely introverts or extroverts?

The answer is no. Introversion and extroversion should be understood as components of the same dimension. Imagine a long line, with pure extraversion and pure introversion at both ends. Each of us would fall somewhere between the two extremes.

When a person is significantly close to one of the extremes, it is normal that it may cause some difficulties and that he or she may wish to seek a better balance. Finding a balance between both tendencies can give us greater versatility in handling different aspects of life.

What difficulties do introverts face?

In 2012, author Susan Cain published her best-selling book «Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking». She also gave one of the most viewed TED Talks to date. In her book, Cain made an interesting analysis of how Western societies are oriented towards extroversion, promoting a greater social appreciation of extroverted people even from an early age.

In this context, introverted people may feel maladjusted, lacking in skills or in constant pursuit of the «extroverted ideal». That is, introverted individuals may feel pressure to adopt extroverted traits in order to feel accepted.

Entendiendo la introversión- ventajas de ser una persona introvertida 3

A telling example is the ease with which we urge others to participate in social events with comments such as «Don’t be dull and come to the party!» or «Are you really going to spend all Saturday afternoon alone?», but it is less common to ask an extrovert to spend more time enjoying solitary activities, such as reading a book in privacy.

The truth is that neither being more introverted nor being more extroverted are positive or negative traits, they are simply different.

Is introversion different from shyness?

One thing Susan Cain emphasizes is the difference between shyness and introversion. A person with introverted tendencies, who becomes exhausted in crowded situations, isn’t necessarily afraid of social interactions. On the contrary, shyness refers to an inhibition in social situations for fear of being judged.

Both shy and introverted people tend to avoid social situations. But while shy people do so out of fear of being judged, introverts do so simply because they have a preference for solitude. Introverts may be more likely to experience shyness if they feel pressured to adapt to extroverted social settings, but this is not true in all cases.

Susan Cain points out that while shyness can be something to overcome, introversion can be something to celebrate. In the next section, I explain why.

What are the advantages of being an introvert?

An introvert is likely to have fewer social skills and may not handle very stimulating situations as well as an extrovert. However, being an introvert has some advantages that sometimes go unnoticed:

  • Reflexivity and introspection: Introverts tend to be deep thinkers, which can lead to greater insight and more thoughtful decision making.
  • Independence: They tend to have a greater ability to enjoy individual activities.
  • Empathy: They tend to be good listeners, which tends to make them sympathetic and trustworthy people.
  • Concentration: Introverts tend to dive deeply into specific tasks, which can lead to greater effectiveness in their projects.
  • Creativity: Moments of reflection and solitude can lead to innovative ideas and creative solutions.
  • Meaningful relationships: They tend to be more selective in their friendships, which may result in fewer but deeper social relationships.
  • Less impressionable: They tend to build their own criteria, which makes them more resistant to fads and external influences.
  • Thoughtful leadership: They can be effective leaders because of their ability to listen to others, pay attention to detail and take more time to weigh options.
Entendiendo la introversión- ventajas de ser una persona introvertida 4

Talking about introversion is important, since, in spite of having been an excluded and unrecognized trait, society needs people with an introverted tendency as well as more extroverted people to move forward. Each brings its virtues, not better or worse, but different. By appreciating and accommodating both personality tendencies, we will achieve greater diversity and human richness. Susan Cain concluded that this bias against introversion leads to «a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness», saying that it is «a great diversity issue of our time».

About the author

Emma is a health psychologist at Sinews. She treats adults and adolescents who come for consultation for problems such as anxiety, depression, grief, self-esteem, emotional self-esteem, emotional dependency… In addition, she is a specialist in the treatment of trauma. She performs her interventions from an integrative approach, which includes an exploration of primary bonding relationships from the perspective of the attachment theory, as well as an approach to the problem from a cognitive-behavioral approach to the problem from a cognitive-behavioral perspective, using effective techniques according to each patient’s needs.

Emma Chancellor Díez
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Emma Chancellor Díez
Adults and adolescents
Languages: English and Spanish
See Resumé

“Apegos feroces”- un relato dedicado al apego materno-filial

"Fierce attachments": a story dedicated to maternal-filial attachment

Mother-daughter relationships have been the subject of study in various strands of psychology, from psychoanalysis to attachment theory. These theories argue that our early attachment relationships, particularly with our maternal figures, play a fundamental role in the formation of our psyche.

In this context, I would like to share a review of «Fierce Attachments», an autobiographical novel that brings a gendered perspective to the depiction of a woman’s attachments from childhood to maturity.

About the author and her book “Fierce Attachments”

Literature is an ideal medium to bring us closer to psychology. It is wonderful the way we can learn from someone who gives us access, through writing, to the thoughts and feelings tied to her personal history. Writer Vivian Gornick’s memoir is a clear example of this.

In Fierce Attachments, the author conveys her experiences, relationships and aspirations in an honest and passionate way. From a psychological point of view, she offers us a highly introspective discourse about her relationship with her mother from her earliest memories to her last ones.

The novel recounts the conversations she has with her mother while walking around Manhattan, when she is already in her forty’s and her mother in her seventy’s. In these conversations, there’s an evident tension. Reproaches and criticisms coexist with words of understanding and complicity. In the course of the book, the author interweaves the powerful ambivalence of this relationship with the difficulties she experiences in shaping her adult relationships and in the search for her own identity.

Attachment and Dependency

Vivian Gornick’s personal story revolves around the themes of attachment and dependency. The novel is devoted to exploring the complex dynamic between mother and daughter, which oscillates between emotional closeness and conflict.

At the beginning of the book, Gornick refers to her relationship with her mother: «We are trapped in a tight channel of familiarity, intense and binding: for years there is a seasonal exhaustion between us. Then the anger flares up again, hot and clear…». Love and hate are clearly intermingled. It is a bond both fierce and ambivalent.

Gornick’s mother is depicted as a dominant emotional dependent figure, clinging to her husband’s love as the only source of satisfaction and clinging to suffering when he dies. She describes her mother at the beginning of the book as «warm and sarcastic, hysterical and generous, ironic and judgmental, and, occasionally, what she thought of as affectionate: that rough, intimidating style she assumed when she was overcome with the tenderness she feared most”. The author, depicts herself as a teenager who does not find a safe and healthy bond at home.

The novel shows how the author carries over these childhood deficiencies and discomforts into her adult attachments. The detailed description of the ups and downs of her love life is not meant to seduce or entertain, but rather, serves as a poignant illustration of her inability to escape her mother’s influence. In essence, Gornick tells of the psychological tendency to look for familiar patterns in our later relationships as a way of trying to heal emotional wounds and overcome the formative experiences that have marked us from an early age.

The search for identity

Another conflict raised in the novel has to do with the construction of one’s own identity. Gornick describes her struggle to find her own place in the world. The female figures she is exposed to from a young age place great importance on her relationships with men. As I explained earlier, when Gornick’s father dies, her mother devotes the rest of her life to mourning and suffering for that loss.

“Apegos feroces”- un relato dedicado al apego materno-filial 3

The author wonders until the end of the novel how she can love, that is, forge authentic and lasting relationships, while at the same time developing her autonomy and personal growth. From a psychological perspective, attachments can manifest as a reflection of our deepest needs and desires. However, when the line between healthy dependence and harmful dependence is blurred, the search for individual identity risks being subjugated to the overriding need to be close to the other.

To whom I recommend this book

“Fierce Attachments” is a powerful novel, written with passion and strength, dedicated to emotively conveying both darker and kinder aspects of emotional relationships. The author’s exploration of her own attachments can generate a «mirror effect» that invites us to reflect on our own relationships and how they influence our perception of ourselves. It is not a light book, but for those interested in immersing themselves in the world of attachments and relationships from a feminist perspective, it may be a good choice.

About the author

Emma is a health psychologist at Sinews. She treats adults and adolescents who come for consultation for problems such as anxiety, depression, grief, self-esteem, emotional self-esteem, emotional dependency… In addition, she is a specialist in the treatment of trauma. She performs her interventions from an integrative approach, which includes an exploration of primary bonding relationships from the perspective of the attachment theory, as well as an approach to the problem from a cognitive-behavioral approach to the problem from a cognitive-behavioral perspective, using effective techniques according to each patient’s needs.

Emma Chancellor Díez
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Emma Chancellor Díez
Adults and adolescents
Languages: English and Spanish
See Resumé

Entendiendo el enfado ¿Cómo manejar esta emoción?

Understanding anger: How can we manage this emotion?

A few weeks ago, a patient explained to me the following situation: «After having had a very bad day at work, I came home, and my partner asked me to cook dinner. I found this quite annoying. Still, I started to cook dinner with no complaints. While I was cooking, I could feel the anger growing inside me. Later, I exploded and told them I was fed up with always cooking dinner. I got up from my chair and left the table”.

The patient then said to me that this was something that frequently happened to them. They sometimes felt that they were unable to control anger and that these bursts of anger were deteriorating their relationships and causing them great discomfort.

I am sure most readers agree that this example does not represent the best way to deal with anger. However, it is likely that most of us have had difficulties managing our anger at some points in our lives. Perhaps the patient doesn’t need to learn how to «not get angry», but to understand their anger and learn to express it in a more intelligent and effective way. Throughout this article we are going to look at anger and how we can manage it in a healthier way.

What is anger?

Anger is considered one of the five basic human emotions. It arises when a desired goal or need is not achieved, or when harm is perceived. According to this conceptualisation, anger can be understood as similar to frustration. However, while frustration is directed at events we dislike (e.g., not passing an exam), anger is usually directed at the people we consider to be the «perpetrators» of these events (e.g., the teacher). In other words, anger often has an important interpersonal component.

Entendiendo el enfado ¿Cómo manejar esta emoción? 2

It’s normal to feel angry

It is very important to differentiate anger from other responses that have this interpersonal character, such as aggression or hostility. Despite the existence of a clear relationship between these responses, anger, on its own, has an important adaptive function and does not necessarily lead to aggression. Anger helps us to become aware of events that upset or hurt us and prepares us to set limits or escape. But it does not imply harming others.

These conceptual differences are of great relevance, since we tend to associate the emotion of anger with impulsive behaviour that is harmful to others. For this reason, we culturally learn that it is better not to express anger, as it is considered «bad» due to its association with aggression. This has led to a general tendency to repress or hide our anger.

Of course, aggression is not a good way of managing our anger, as it has a harmful impact on others and shows a great lack of emotional maturity. But neither is suppressing or hiding anger, since, as in the case of our patient, it often leads to explosive behaviour and long-term discomfort.

Here are the steps to follow to manage anger in a better way. The main keys in this process are self-knowledge and assertive communication.

Listen to yourself: become aware of your anger

When we recognise in ourselves a tendency to experience anger, it is very important to connect with this part of ourselves to identify the moment in which we’re starting to feel irritated. Paying attention to our physiological responses (muscle tension, heat, sweating, palpitations…) can help us identify this emotion when it first arrives. Doing this awareness exercise prepares us to manage anger. It also allows us to notice what kind of situations make us angry so that we can modulate our exposure to them. To carry out this exercise it can be useful to use self-registers that help us to analyse the causes, characteristics, and consequences of our episodes of anger.

Entendiendo el enfado ¿Cómo manejar esta emoción? 3

Release energy

When we feel angry the adrenaline in our body increases preparing it for fight or flight. This physiological component of anger causes a lot of tension that builds up inside us. It is very important to discharge all this energy consciously, so that our body can return to a state more suitable for problem solving. The accumulation of this energy is what causes uncontrolled behavioural explosions. In our example, the patient tries to contain their anger until they finally explode.

The best thing to do is to find the most effective way to discharge your energy. This process takes a bit a time. Most people use movement or sport, others listen to music, walk or create art.

Self-analysis: Understand your anger

Once we are in the right state of mind to reflect, we should try to understand what it is that makes us angry to put it into words in the best possible way. In our example, perhaps the patient felt angry because the household chores were not properly distributed. Or perhaps they would like to have been able to share with their partner their frustration from work. In order to deal with anger, it is necessary to have a reasonable explanation of its cause.

Communicate assertively and seek solutions

Finally, it is important to communicate this explanation assertively to modify or improve the situations that generate this emotion. Perhaps, in the case of the example, we could talk about a fairer distribution of tasks, or about a better communication in the relationship. Sometimes it is not possible to change the situations, so we must try to fix the way we approach them.

Entendiendo el enfado ¿Cómo manejar esta emoción? 4

From a young age, many of us learn that feeling or expressing anger is something negative. However, it is one of the basic emotions that help us to orient ourselves in life. Neither repressing anger nor expressing it in an explosive/aggressive manner are appropriate ways to handle this emotion. It is preferable to give ourselves the opportunity to understand where it comes from and what it is demanding from us.

Some people who tend to experience anger frequently find it very difficult to understand it’s origin. Sometimes people even accumulate this emotion because of past situations that have left a strong emotional scar. In these cases, it is recommended to see a therapist who can guide the patient to discover the cause of their anger and help them to manage it through cognitive behavioural therapy techniques, such as cognitive restructuring, thought stopping or progressive muscle relaxation.

About the author

Emma is a health psychologist at Sinews. She treats adults and adolescents who come for consultation for problems such as anxiety, depression, grief, self-esteem, emotional self-esteem, emotional dependency… In addition, she is a specialist in the treatment of trauma. She performs her interventions from an integrative approach, which includes an exploration of primary bonding relationships from the perspective of the attachment theory, as well as an approach to the problem from a cognitive-behavioral approach to the problem from a cognitive-behavioral perspective, using effective techniques according to each patient’s needs.

Emma Chancellor Díez
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Emma Chancellor Díez
Adults and adolescents
Languages: English and Spanish
See Resumé

FOMO o miedo a perderse algo- ¿Cómo afecta a nuestra salud mental y qué podemos hacer al respecto?

FOMO or Fear of Missing Out: How does it affect our mental health and what can we do about it?

On any given day, you pick up your mobile phone, check social media, and start seeing all the wonderful things people you follow are doing. As you scroll through stories and posts of your friends, you begin to feel a sense of missing out on experiences or plans, of falling behind or being disconnected from others.

The anxiety of missing out on something important, known as FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), is becoming increasingly common. If you have ever experienced this feeling or would like to learn more about this phenomenon, I invite you to read this article where I explain what it consists of, how it can affect us, and ways we can manage it.

What is FOMO?

The rise of social media has pushed the possibilities of sharing many aspects of our lives to the extreme: what we do, who we are with, what products we consume, where we travel… It is increasingly common for people to share videos or photos of their daily lives. However, there is a tendency to show only the brightest parts of life while hiding the less beautiful parts.

Excessive use of social media, that is, sharing and viewing content on networks routinely, can have effects on our mental health. The most recent studies covering this topic shed light on a relatively new concept: FOMO, or fear of missing out. FOMO refers to the anxiety that people may feel when they perceive that others are living gratifying experiences that we are not experiencing. This concept has gained strength since the popularization of social media, as they provide us access to a great deal of content that can induce this feeling: other people’s achievements, wonderful family vacations, parties with friends, photos with the latest fashionable items, etc.

FOMO o miedo a perderse algo- ¿Cómo afecta a nuestra salud mental y qué podemos hacer al respecto? 2

The social media trap

FOMO is originated by the natural human desire of wanting to belong and connect with others. However, social media and technology have taken this need to an unprecedented level.

Every person has better and worse days, or is more or less accompanied depending on the moment in their life. Constant exposure to social media can create the illusion that other people’s lives are characterized only by positive aspects, that they are full of interesting and exciting events, that they achieve all their goals, and that they are always well accompanied. This perfect image does not correspond to reality.

By comparing our lives, achievements, bodies, and relationships with these illusions of perfection, we can develop feelings of dissatisfaction and negative self-evaluation.

According to the second Digital Consumer by Generation report presented by Smartme Analytics, we use our smartphones on average for 3 hours and 40 minutes. Therefore, it is very important to pay attention to how the use of these networks affects our psychological well-being.

The impact of FOMO on our mental health

According to some studies, FOMO has a significant negative effect on the education, social, economic, and psychological life of young people and young adults.

FOMO is defined as an anxious response that includes a cognitive component (worry, rumination, intrusive thoughts…) and a behavioral component, aimed at relieving distress. It often involves frequently checking social media and messaging services to maintain social connections and avoid missing out on gratifying experiences.

This pattern of behavior has been associated with numerous negative consequences: lack of concentration, problems with insufficient and irregular sleep, difficulty keeping up with studies or work, procrastination, dependence on social media to experience gratifying emotions, high levels of stress in the absence of the mobile phone, and reduced sociability in «real life.»

FOMO o miedo a perderse algo- ¿Cómo afecta a nuestra salud mental y qué podemos hacer al respecto? 3

Anxious-depressive symptoms are factors that both predict experiencing FOMO and are consequences of experiencing it. That is, people with anxiety or depression are more likely to experience this syndrome, and, in turn, this syndrome can greatly intensify this symptomatology. Something similar occurs with social isolation, which functions both as a cause and consequence of FOMO.

Another main consequence of FOMO is that it becomes a risk factor for developing a mobile phone addiction, which can have a great impact on the social and academic life of younger individuals.

What signs indicate that I may be experiencing FOMO?

The first step to intervene in FOMO is to realize that it is a problem. Here are some signs that can help you identify FOMO:

  • Feeling pressure to constantly be aware of interactions on social media.
  • Constantly checking the computer or mobile phone. Feeling relieved when doing so.
  • Even in the presence of friends, being connected to social networks with the aim of continuously communicating with others.
  • Fear of running out of battery because you cannot check social media.
  • Having the desire to do all the attractive activities observed on social media.
  • Having the desire to buy products or services just because other people have them and show them on their networks.
  • Feeling emotions of jealousy or envy of the activities that others show on social media.
  • When viewing content on social media, feeling that you are missing out on something or falling behind.

How can I manage FOMO?

In a society that promotes the use of mobile phones and social media, it can be difficult to regulate their use and manage the FOMO associated with it. Here are some tips that may be helpful:

  1. FOMO is linked to feelings of dissatisfaction with one's own life. Actively engaging in gratifying activities in "real life" can help us be happier and more connected to life.
  2. Focus on building strong and authentic relationships.
  3. Always be aware that social media is not a reflection of reality.
  4. Try, as much as possible, not to compare yourself to others. Keep in mind that many things that are revered on social media (fame, beauty, or money) do not bring happiness.
  5. Apply meditation or mindfulness strategies to be more connected to the present.
  6. Engage in physical or outdoor activities that involve disconnecting from the phone, helping to reduce anxiety.
  7. Use apps or resources to limit phone and certain app usage.
  8. Work on self-compassion and self-confidence.
  9. Learn to say "no" and prioritize what is important to us.
FOMO o miedo a perderse algo- ¿Cómo afecta a nuestra salud mental y qué podemos hacer al respecto? 4

FOMO can have significant consequences on our daily lives and mental health. This does not mean that we have to limit the use of social networks for good. That is an option that may be good for some people, but not necessarily for all, since it implies sacrificing the positive parts of using them. The important thing is to use them in an informed and conscious way, paying attention to how they affect us.

Setting limits on social media use, working on rewarding activities and cultivating meaningful relationships in the real world are some of the strategies that will help us manage FOMO and live a fuller, more authentic life. By focusing on our own experiences in the real world, we can enjoy life more.

About the author

Emma is a health psychologist at Sinews. She treats adults and adolescents who come for consultation for problems such as anxiety, depression, grief, self-esteem, emotional self-esteem, emotional dependency… In addition, she is a specialist in the treatment of trauma. She performs her interventions from an integrative approach, which includes an exploration of primary bonding relationships from the perspective of the attachment theory, as well as an approach to the problem from a cognitive-behavioral approach to the problem from a cognitive-behavioral perspective, using effective techniques according to each patient’s needs.

Emma Chancellor Díez
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Emma Chancellor Díez
Adults and adolescents
Languages: English and Spanish
See Resumé

Why I struggle to make decisions and how to do it effectively

Why I struggle to make decisions and how to do it effectively

We make decisions all the time. Every day we choose what we are going to wear or what we are going to eat. On these occasions, making decisions seems like a simple task. But what happens when we have to make more important decisions in our lives? If we look back, we see that our past decisions, among other factors, have led us into the present in which we live.

Some people experience difficulties in making decisions they consider important. Sometimes we may feel blocked, paralyzed by the fear of uncertainty or of making the wrong decision. Indecision can lead us to constantly postpone the moment of making a decision, as well as causing us to feel tired and helpless.

Throughout this article we will describe the psychological models that explain the decision-making processes, we will identify the factors that hinder these processes and we will propose strategies to deal with them. We will also discuss how emotions affect our decisions.

How do we make decisions?

Psychology has tried to explain and describe the mental processes behind decision making. Several psychological models have been developed, among which we could highlight the following:

  1. The rational model: This theory holds that a person makes a decision by evaluating, on the one hand, the probability of each possible outcome, and, on the other hand, the benefit of that outcome. For example, let's imagine that we are trying to decide what degree to study. This model would argue that we make that decision by evaluating the possibility of entering the degree program of our choice and studying it successfully, as well as assessing the future benefits of studying that degree program (market demand, salary expectations...).
  2. The heuristic model: This model criticizes the rational model for assuming that people always have all the necessary information to make the best decision and that they evaluate the possibilities as if they were a "faultless computer". We know that this is not always the case. Kahneman and Tversky (1973) pointed out that people use mental shortcuts or "heuristics" to make quick and efficient decisions in complex situations. In the above example of choosing a college major, a person might use several heuristics to make his or her decision:
  • Availability heuristic: The person might base his or her choice on the degrees that he or she knows the most about or has heard the most about from experiences of people close to him or her.
  • Representativeness heuristic: The person could choose his or her degree by trying to choose the one that best fits his or her personal characteristics, skills, or values.
  • Social judgment heuristic: The person might choose a career based on how it is viewed socially.
Why I struggle to make decisions and how to do it effectively

Heuristics allow us to explain our «intuition», defined as the «faculty of understanding things instantaneously, without the need for reasoning». In other words, they allow us to explain why we sometimes choose an option without devoting too much conscious effort to reflecting on a decision. However, decision-making is also influenced by emotional and subjective factors that interfere with the elaboration of a generalizable model.

How do our emotions affect our decisions?

Numerous research studies show that emotions greatly affect our decisions. They influence us mainly in two ways.

On the one hand, when our prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain involved in decision making) begins to create representations of the scenarios that could occur as a consequence of a decision, we can feel the outline of the emotional reaction that this scenario would provoke in us. This allows us to make decisions that are oriented towards experiencing positive or pleasant emotions and avoiding negative or unpleasant emotions.

On the other hand, our emotional states also affect our decision making. When we are in positive emotional states (e.g., joy or exaltation) we tend to consider riskier options and make quicker decisions. While negative emotional states (e.g., sadness or fear) are associated with a more detailed evaluation of the situations and more conservative and slower decisions.

Por qué me cuesta tomar decisiones y cómo hacerlo de manera efectiva 3

Therefore, as Pascal said long before the development of psychobiology, “the heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of”. In other words, emotions can be of great help in making vital decisions. But some emotions can also contribute to the blocks that limit us when making a decision. We will talk about these blocks in the following section.

4 factors that contribute to indecision

The previous sections have served to understand the way in which people make decisions. Now we are going to identify the 4 elements that contribute the most to indecision:

  1. Need for control: when we have to make an important decision for our lives we face great uncertainty. Sometimes, people with excessive fear of uncertainty believe they need a lot of time to gather more and more information to help them choose the wisest option. However, sometimes useful information is also limited. This endless search for information can make us feel a false "illusion of control" as we procrastinate in making the decision.
  2. Lack of self-confidence: People with low levels of self-confidence may feel less willing to make decisions and less confident in their decisions once they make them. This has to do with a lack of confidence in their own judgments and a feeling that they will not be able to take responsibility for the consequences of the decision they make. They usually consult the people around them excessively before deciding for themselves.
  3. Fear of rejection: Sometimes making a decision involves choosing something that others would not choose. In this sense, it involves exposing oneself to the judgment of others. Other times, making a decision that suits us may have a negative effect on others. Some people block themselves before a decision for fear of "what will they say" or of being rejected by others.
  4. Fear of being wrong: Choosing implies giving up those options that have not been chosen. Sometimes the fear of not making the right decision, of making a mistake or of regretting it later, makes indecision last while we evaluate over and over again in our head what might happen if we make a mistake.
Why I struggle to make decisions and how to do it effectively

Tips to make decisions more effectively

Once explained which are the elements that contribute most to indecision, these are the steps we can follow to do it effectively:

  1. Identify the dilemma: Define the problem and why it is necessary to make a decision about it.
  2. Discuss all the possible alternatives.
  3. Make a list of pros and cons of each alternative.
  4. Choose an alternative.
  5. Take action: test the chosen option.

When in this process we get «blocked» or do not feel that we can get to step 5, we can:

  1. Identify what are the fears or emotions that block me from making a decision.
  2. Evaluate the costs of acting on these fears (staying in indecision or not taking action) versus the costs of acting objectively and making a decision (facing those fears).
  3. Work on taking responsibility for my decision and accepting that choice always involves giving up other possibilities.
  4. Work on assuming the lack of control. We make decisions based on the information and tools we have "today" and many times we cannot predict the outcome tomorrow.
Por qué me cuesta tomar decisiones y cómo hacerlo de manera efectiva 4

Making important decisions is not an easy task, and requires planning and action. But sometimes what blocks us has to do with fears or emotions that we must work on in order to feel more capable and confident when making decisions.

It is recommended to complement this reading with this article on self-esteem and this other one.

About the author

Emma is a health psychologist at Sinews. She treats adults and adolescents who come for consultation for problems such as anxiety, depression, grief, self-esteem, emotional self-esteem, emotional dependency… In addition, she is a specialist in the treatment of trauma. She performs her interventions from an integrative approach, which includes an exploration of primary bonding relationships from the perspective of the attachment theory, as well as an approach to the problem from a cognitive-behavioral approach to the problem from a cognitive-behavioral perspective, using effective techniques according to each patient’s needs.

Emma Chancellor Díez
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Emma Chancellor Díez
Adults and adolescents
Languages: English and Spanish
See Resumé

El caso de Cheslie kryst: hablemos de suicidio

The case of Cheslie Kryst

Cheslie was a 30-year-old woman who not only distinguished herself for her beauty, but also for her academic and professional success. After finishing her law studies, she began her career as a lawyer dedicated to fighting for social justice. Later, she was recognized as Miss United States and began her work as a television correspondent.

According to information provided by newspapers and networks, Cheslie was greatly valued by her family, friends and co-workers. She was valued for her dedication to her profession as a lawyer, for her determination to change the situation of many people, as well as for the love she was able to transmit to those around her.

The reasons for her decision were not expressed by her before the event. Why did a woman so highly appreciated for her talent and intelligence, with such a promising future ahead of her, decide to take her own life?

A few days after the event, her mother revealed that Cheslie had been dealing with high-functioning depression. This is one of the most difficult forms of depression to diagnose, because people who suffer from it are able to continue with their habits, routines, occupations and projects, yet have great difficulty experiencing excitement, joy and satisfaction. Despite the external recognition they receive, they feel insufficient and worthless, and even lose the meaning of their lives.

Therefore, even though it is sometimes extremely difficult to realize that someone is going through such a fragile moment, it is very useful to know the signs that can help us to perceive and respond to an urgent need for help from a family member, friend or partner.

Signs of suicide risk

The people around Cheslie were unable to detect the risk the young woman was facing. This may have been because the most obvious and disturbing warning signs of suicide are verbal. When these are absent, it can be much more complicated to see the risk. Some comments such as «I can’t go on any longer,» «I don’t care about anything,» or even «I’m thinking of ending it all» should be taken very seriously, especially when they are consistently expressed over time.

On other occasions, the signs are less striking. Sometimes, they are difficult to recognize because they are non-verbal and less explicit signals. On the one hand, there are often observable emotional states, such as being extremely apathetic, hopeless, sad, angry or agitated. On the other hand, there are often drastic behavioral changes, such as withdrawing from friends and family, giving major gifts, eating or sleeping too much or too little, consuming alcohol or drugs more frequently, showing exaggerated mood fluctuations, or putting oneself in risky situations such as speeding.

It is very difficult to list all the possible signs, but three key components have been identified that indicate the possible presence of thoughts of suicide. First, emotional pain. Psychological suffering, which can have different causes, is often what people want to put an end to. Secondly, hopelessness, the belief that nothing can get better. Finally, disconnection from the world, from one’s job, hobbies, friendships and family.

What to do when someone is facing the risk?

When a person is at risk of suicide, they may feel that this is the only solution to their situation. It is very important to remind these people that they are not alone, that there are alternatives, solutions and reasons to stay in the world. To do this, it is essential to break the stigma surrounding suicide and address it directly.

It is necessary for family members and close friends to listen to the thoughts and emotions that the person at risk, so that they can offer real support that comes from a knowledge of the cause of the distress. Staying close to this person will help him or her feel accompanied and understood. An indispensable resource for people who find themselves in this extreme situation is to seek the help of a mental health professional. Psychologists and psychiatrists have the knowledge and professional tools to guide patients to find answers and alternative paths. In the clinic, they can feel listened to, actively helped and involved in their own process of improvement.

Finally, in Spain there is an anonymous, confidential, free telephone number, staffed by specialized professionals, to assist all people with suicidal thoughts, ideations or risk of suicidal behavior (this number is 024). The main objective of this line is to provide help in times of crisis and to put these people in contact with specialized entities. But also, to convey a message to the entire population: if at any time you find yourself in this situation, remember that you are not alone, ask for help, because there are people willing to help you.

Emma Chancellor Díez
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Emma Chancellor Díez
Adults and adolescents
Languages: English and Spanish
See Resumé

Moving to another country with two pre-teens

Moving to another country with two pre-teens


*Our family is moving again. The 12 and 10 year old boys have already experienced two changes of country. I feel this time it is more difficult as they are pre-teens. Any advice on how to help them?»


International moves are always difficult, especially when the attachment to the home country is strong. However, having lived through two previous country changes can be a protective factor for children to cope better with the transition to a new culture. On the one hand, because they have already experienced what it is like to leave a special place behind.

The strong emotions produced by the “goodbyes” are no longer new. This does not mean they will not appear, but at least the children will be more aware that these emotions will eventually disappear. On the other hand, because they have already experienced new beginnings and adjustment processes. As a result, they may have developed useful skills and strategies to embark on the next change.

However, it is true that the fact that the kids are close to adolescence may pose an added difficulty. During childhood, children have the main priority of being close to their family most of the time. But in pre-adolescence, the peer group begins to gain greater importance. Spending time with friends and doing activities with peers often come to the forefront of their lives. Therefore, it is especially important to be cautious about preparing them for the change, and to be mindful of the relevance of goodbyes to friends.

At the same time, the integration into the educational system of the host country can become more challenging. Academically, the contrast of the educational level may be more drastic than in previous moves. Especially for the older child, who is in transition to secondary education.

At the social level, the boys are entering an age in which the process of developing their identity begins, for which relationships with peers have a great impact. In this sense, pre-adolescent children begin to point out their differences and to share their similarities, creating small groups based on things with which they feel identified (hobbies, tastes, styles…). In this context, it seems important to pay attention to the children’s possible feelings of being «the different ones», «the odd ones» or those who «do not fit in». Social integration is a challenge that must be addressed in order to achieve both their emotional well-being and the proper development of their identity.

In addition, in pre-adolescence, many other changes begin: physical changes, greater need for parental autonomy, increased contact with technologies and social networks…It is possible that, in the host culture, these changes are addressed in a different way than in the culture of the previous country or the culture of the parents. For example: it may happen that in one culture it is more common for children of these ages to play video games than in another. In these cases, it is advisable to adopt the customs (in a flexible manner) of the host country, in order to achieve a better adaptation to the lifestyle and social behavior of that culture.

Other tips to facilitate a better moving experience for your children are:

  • Prepare for the change in advance: ensure a good farewell from family and friends to facilitate the grieving process.
  • Try to generate realistic expectations about what they will find in the host country, emphasizing the positive parts.
  • Communicate with your children, let them know that you understand how difficult it is for them. Provide them with a space to express their emotions and thoughts. Be honest with them and try to make them feel safe.
  • Address possible fears with them: What will school be like? What are the kids like there? What if I don’t make friends?
  • Keep the bond with your culture and family alive to strengthen their sense of identity. At the same time, adapt the routine and some customs to the culture of the destination country to help them adapt.
  • Help your children make new friends by meeting other children who also have an international life experience.
  • Communicate with educational institutions to involve teachers and other professionals in their adaptation process.

Emma Chancellor Díez
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Emma Chancellor Díez
Adults and adolescents
Languages: English and Spanish
See Resumé

¿cómo celebrar las tradiciones siendo expatriados?

Expats: How to celebrate the holidays in a different culture?

The holidays are finally approaching, a time that for many of us means an exciting reunion with our family and traditions. Normally, in Spain, people come together to sing Christmas carols, eat roscón on Three Kings’ Day and celebrate together the beginning of a new year. Through these traditions we get closer to our community and reinforce our sense of belonging to the culture that surrounds us, preserving our cultural identity.

For those who live in the country of their culture of origin, participation in traditional events, rites and festivities is often a natural, intuitive and simple approach to their own culture. But what happens to families who are immersed in a culture different from that of their country of origin? How do they adapt to the customs of their country of destination? How important is it for them to maintain the customs of their own culture?

Cultural identity in TCKs

Cultural identity is the unifying element within a social group. In other words, it allows people to develop a sense of belonging to a community with which they share a series of common elements. Culture, therefore, is made up of all social facts that are common to people within the same group: language, norms, values, religion, artistic manifestations, expressions, humor, symbols… Moreover, its acquisition is essential for the construction of the individual identity.

These cultural patterns are acquired through primary socialization, that is, at home, and continuously in other social contexts. That is why parents play an important role in transmitting their customs, values and traditions to their children.

As previously mentioned in this blog, one of the groups most likely to experience situations of ambiguity in framing themselves within a specific culture is that of third culture kids, TCKs (https://www.sinews.es/en/challenges-of-third-culture-kids/).

For some of these children and adolescents, the abandonment of the activities of their culture of origin, as well as the difficulty of adapting to the cultural practices of their country of destination, constitute one of the most complex challenges they usually face: the definition of their own identity.

Cultural assimilation and distancing from roots

Through the process of cultural assimilation, these children and adolescents adapt to the characteristics of new cultures. This is a progressive, natural and essential process for their correct adaptation to a new culture and for their proper social and school functioning. However, it is usually accompanied by a loss of some of the characteristics of their original culture.

The immersion of TCKs in a new sociocultural context can generate certain barriers in the expression of typical behaviors of their culture of origin. For example, it will be much more difficult to celebrate the traditional celbrations of their culture due to the absence of context.

In addition, in the new environment, these families are involved in different dynamics and cultural expressions that may indirectly contribute to an omission or oppression of their own culture. In other words, factors related to the new culture, such as administrative issues, socioeconomic level, school, language, activities, calendar or festivities, may pose certain «obstacles» to the maintenance of the culture of origin.

This process of assimilation explains the ease with which TCKs can distance themselves from their culture of origin, developing a complex sense of «loss or abandonment of their roots», of disconnection from their traditions and of loneliness in the world.

The importance of cultural transmission: some tips for parents

The purpose of this article is to explain families that, just as adaptation to new cultures is important for TCKs, so is the maintenance of the culture of their country of origin. This is relevant to their well-being and the development of their own identity.

By transmitting the culture of origin, the parents of these children and adolescents can foster a sense of belonging to a community, facilitate the understanding of their own behavior, broaden and enrich their vision of the world, and give greater continuity to their own values and customs.

Here are some tips for transmitting your own culture to your children:
a) Maintain the language alive at home: try to make them learn the language as fluently as possible, including its expressions and gestures. Language helps us build our ideas about the world, so speaking it will help them understand and identify with your culture.
b) Don’t forget to celebrate important holidays: dress in traditional clothing, listen to the music that has always been played on this day, dance as you would have done in your country of origin, and invite your children to celebrate with you. Invite them to feel the union with their roots.
c) Cook and eat traditional dishes with them: a flavor can remind us of a country, a culture, a moment or even a person. Food can be an excellent vehicle to transport your children to their previous cultural context and, at the same time, take pleasure in it.
e) Educate them in the activities and customs of the culture: talk to them and teach them those activities that in their culture of origin imply a pleasant way to spend time or having fun. Some examples might be playing musical instruments, playing games, playing sports, craft activities, etc.
f) Share with them the art and folklore of your community: one of the most special ways in which people connect and communicate our culture is through music, dance, writing, painting and any other artistic expression. Promote your children’s curiosity in the art of your culture and educate them in the most representative creations of your community.
g) Travel to the country of origin: one of the most obvious ways to transmit your culture to your children is to put them in direct contact with it, promoting the link with the land in which this culture was born and developed.
h) Place your children in schools that keep your own culture as a reference: this will help your child to find in school a community of children and adolescents in the same situation, with whom they can share common experiences and concerns.
i) Make use of new technologies: through blogs, videos, games, movies and many other online contents, you will be able to educate and bring your child closer to his or her culture, in a broad, entertaining and very accessible way. Through video calls, they will be able to maintain contact with their previous environment in a more frequent and less expensive way.

Emma Chancellor Díez
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Emma Chancellor Díez
Adults and adolescents
Languages: English and Spanish
See Resumé

influencia del apoyo familiar para la salud mental de los jóvenes lgbtiq+

The Influence of Family Support on the Mental Health of LGBTIQ+ Young

Traditionally, lesbian, gay, transgender and other non-normative sexual orientations or gender identities have been discriminated and subjected to multiple hostile attitudes and behaviours.

Until 1973, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Furthermore, it was not until 2007 that the right of any person to feel male or female was recognised in Spain, and not until 2013 «Gender Identity Disorder» was removed from the DSM (Los transexuales ya no son enfermos mentales, 2012).

Fortunately, in recent decades, Western societies have undergone an important and necessary transformation in terms of people’s sexual rights. Sexual diversity is now more present in the media, in the law and has become a more visible and common reality, especially among younger generations. However, this transformation has not been easy, nor has it been quick, nor can it be considered complete, given that heterosexual and cisgender people still maintain a privilege over other less socially accepted groups.

Mental health in LGTBIQ+ people

Numerous research studies have tried to explain the consequences of stigma towards LGTBIQ+ people, finding lower levels of well-being and a higher frequency of mental health problems in sexual minorities, such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse disorders and suicidal tendencias. More recent studies confirm that despite social progress in terms of acceptance of sexual plurality, these minorities continue to suffer more psychological disorders, clearly not as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity per se (Trevor, 2020).

To understand this mental health disparity compared to the heterosexual and cisgender population, it has been argued that young people who belong to sexual minorities, or are perceived as such, experience elevated levels of stress throughout their psychosocial development. This stress generally goes hand in hand with an internalisation of widespread homophobic and transphobic attitudes in society, as well as concealment of sexual minority status (Katz-Wise, et al, 2016).

The main source of stress experienced by sexual minorities comes from their immediate social context, so that poorer mental health among sexual minorities is often the result of a hostile or stressful social environment. Some life experiences, such as peer victimisation in educational institutions, a phenomenon better known as bullying, have been largely associated with the psychological distress of these young people. However, there is one social factor that has received less attention in psychological studies that can have an enormous impact on the mental health of these individuals: family acceptance and support.

Importance of family support

Family is a central source of support in adolescence, and appropriate family dynamics are essential for young people’s well-being and development. Moreover, adolescence and emerging adulthood often mark the time when individuals become aware of and manifest their sexual orientation and gender identity, and the family has a very important place during this process (Rosario and Schrimshaw, 2014). Furthermore, the experience of disclosure of sexual orientation or gender identity is a potentially stressful event for LGTBIQ+ youth, as family rejection can become a major threat to their psychological well-being (Newcomb et al., 2019).

Unfortunately, these young people are more likely to experience parental rejection because of their sexual minority status. Because of the stigma attached to this population, some parents find it difficult to understand and accept their children’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and may adopt rejecting or overprotective attitudes. Sometimes parents interpret their children’s sexual orientation as a «phase», transmitting parental denial or ambivalence to their children.These behaviours and attitudes within the family can have a very detrimental effect on the psychosocial development of adolescents.

However, one study shows that if an LGTBIQ+ adolescent receives adequate family support, the protective effect on their mental health can be reflected both directly and indirectly. Directly, by influencing their self-acceptance, self-esteem and sense of self-confidence. Indirectly, by being able to educate them in appropriate ways to deal with homophobia or transphobia, as well as to prevent or deal with incidents of bullying outside the family context. In this sense, the family can be a key element in protecting sexual minorities from internalising the effects of victimisation or other societal attacks (Sidiropoulou et al., 2019).

How can we work with these families in therapy?

From the previous paragraphs it can be concluded that working with the families of LGTBIQ+ young people can be of great importance in preserving their mental health. Through psychological therapy, it is possible to help families to recognise and modify their false beliefs about the group, their stigma and to foster attitudes and behaviours of acceptance and support towards their children.

It is equally important to address the psychological stress experienced by LGTBIQ+ people, as well as the possible mental health problems linked to it. This therapeutic work should be carried out by professionals trained to work with sexual and gender diversity. It is particularly important to pay attention to issues of parental acceptance and rejection, and to work together with parents, with the aim of helping young people develop a healthy sense of self in terms of their sexual orientation.

At the same time, individual therapeutic work should focus on the appropriate handling of homophobia and transphobia in the individual’s different social contexts, as well as the psychological effects of possible experiences of discrimination. This requires a modification of false self-beliefs and a strengthening of self-esteem on cognitive and emotional levels, as well as learning behavioural strategies to cope with potentially stressful situations, e.g. social skills.


  • Alfageme, A. (2012, 5 diciembre). Los transexuales ya no son enfermos mentales. El Paí­s. Recuperado de https://elpais.com
  • Katz-Wise, S., Rosario, M., y Tsappis, M. (2016). LGBT Youth and family acceptance. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 63(6), 1011-1025. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcl.2016.07.005
  • Newcomb, M., LaSala, M., Bouris, A., Mustanski, B., Prado, G., Schrager, S., y Huebner, D. (2019). The influence of families on LGBTQ youth health: A call to action for innovation in eesearch and intervention development. LGBT Health, 6(4), 139-145, https://doi.org/10.1089/lgbt.2018.0157
  • Rosario, M., y Schrimshaw, E. W. (2014). Theories and etiologies of sexual orientation. En D. L. Tolman, L. M. Diamond, J. A. Bauermeister, W. H. George, J. G. Pfaus, y L. M. Ward (Eds.), APA handbooks in psychology. APA handbook of sexuality and psychology, Vol. 1. Person-based approaches (p. 555–596). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/14193-018
  • The Trevor Project. (2020). 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health. The Trevor Project.
  • Sidiropouloul, K., Drydakis, N., Harvey, B., y Paraskevopoulou, A. (2019). Family support, school-age and workplace bullying for LGB people. International Journal of Manpower. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJM-03-2019-0152

Emma Chancellor Díez
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Emma Chancellor Díez
Adults and adolescents
Languages: English and Spanish
See Resumé