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Gay affirmative psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy for non-heterosexuals , specifically gay and lesbian clients, which focuses on client comfort in working towards authenticity and self-acceptance regarding sexual orientation , and does not attempt to "change" them to heterosexual , or to "eliminate or diminish" same-sex "desires and behaviors". In fact, embracing and affirming gay identity can be a key component to recovery from other mental illnesses or substance abuse. Countering psychiatry over the past hundred years that saw homosexuality to be a mental illness , current guidelines instead encourage psychotherapists to assist patients in overcoming the stigma of homosexuality rather than the sexual orientation. Many gays and lesbians are rejected from their own families and form their own familial relationships and support systems that may also be unfamiliar to mental health professionals, who are encouraged to take into account the diversity of extended relationships in lieu of family. One of the emerging areas of research regarding gay affirmative psychotherapy is related to the process of assisting LGBTQ individuals from religious backgrounds feel comfortable with their sexual and gender orientation.