PeaceTree Center support group provides safe space for LGBTQ+

A Marshall University graduate is helping to provide safe spaces for those in the LGBTQ+ community by creating a support group for those struggling.

Amanda Patrick, a therapist at PeaceTree Center for Wellness and graduate of Marshall, started the LGBTQ+ support group while working on her master’s degree last spring. 

“I just thought that it was definitely needed in the community,” Patrick said. “We found that there were a lot of clients and just general need in the community for LGBTQ support groups. I was all game for it, I was like ‘I want to make this my baby’ basically.”

According to Patrick, the group started as a way to promote self-esteem and focus on practicing self-love, rather than trying to change people’s minds.

“One thing we focus on a lot in the group is that we aren’t going to be able to change everyone’s mind,” Patrick said. “Unfortunately, we aren’t going to make everyone pro-LGBTQ+ and be the ally that we wish we could be, but with positive self-affirmations, learning about yourself and practicing self-love, we can build up their self-esteem to be like ‘okay, you don’t accept me, but I accept me.’”

The PeaceTree Center for Wellness is a growing development and training center that provides other services such as yoga, meditation and group therapies to promote their vision of peace, wellness and hope.

The support group for LGBTQ+ individuals was first organized in February, and since then, Patrick said she has worked to help make the location a safe space for those who identify in the LGBTQ+ community. 

When the meetings first began, they were separated into two groups, one group for the students, and the other filled with the parents of those who identify as LGBTQ+.

“That’s the ideal situation,” Patrick said. “I know parents have a lot of things they might want to talk about, but may not want to say in front of their child because it’s confusing even identifying that way, let alone being the parent of someone that identifies in that way. Plus, I know a lot of the kids also have a lot to share that you can’t really say in front of mom and dad.”

The support group is also dedicated to providing education to those who are wishing to learn more about what it means to identify with the LGBTQ+ community, according to Patrick.

“We do a lot of education. We did an activity learning about the pride colors and each flag and covered some terminology that I hadn’t even heard of,” Patrick said. “So, it’s very educational for the parents and the teens, and that way, they can educate whoever they may be talking about it with.”

PeaceTree is also dedicated to providing other various events geared towards holistic healing for the mind, body and spirit, according to Patrick.

Every Saturday, the organization offers free morning yoga and meditation at 10 a.m. for what is known as “self-care Saturdays,” with all members of the community welcom to attend.

The next LGBTQ+ support group will take place at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4 at the PeaceTree Wellness Center at 5930 Mahood Drive, Huntington, WV.

Blake Newhouse can be contacted at [email protected]