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Finding Your Perfect Match: A Guide to Finding an LGBTQ+ Therapist

Everyone, LGBTQ+ included, should take care of their mental health. The problem, however, is finding a therapist who is affirming and competent in LGBTQ+ issues can be challenging. Thanks to this blog post, you can find a therapist who will be able to support you on your way to a happier life.

Why is it Important to Find an LGBTQ+ Therapist?

Although therapists are trained mental health professionals, not all have the specific knowledge and experience to relate to LGBTQ+ individuals. Some of these challenges include:

  • Understanding and validation. Those who identify as LGBTQ+ face unique challenges because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. A therapist who specializes in LGBTQ+ issues can provide a safe space for discussing these issues openly and honestly. When a person is unsure of their identity or is coming out to their friends or family, this is especially helpful.

  • Mental health disparities. There is evidence that LGBTQ+ people are more likely to suffer from mental health issues like anxiety or depression. These disparities can be addressed by an LGBTQ+ therapist who is familiar with them.

  • Discrimination. Becoming a victim of prejudice and bias because of your sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • Minority stress. There is a chronic stress that comes from living in a society that may not fully accept you

  • Relationship issues. Dealing with the complexities of LGBTQ+ relationships or facing challenges unique to LGBTQ+ relationships

  • Family dynamics. Whether it's coming out to family members, navigating complex family relationships, or dealing with an unsupportive family environment.

  • Internalized homophobia/transphobia. Having negative beliefs about oneself due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Having a therapist who understands these issues will enable them to provide more culturally competent care. They can provide you with a safe and affirming space where you can express your thoughts, feelings, and experiences without judgment.

LGBTQ+ Affirming Therapists and LGBTQ+ Therapists

In general, there are two main options to consider when looking for a therapist who supports and understands LGBTQ+ communities:

  • LGBTQ+ affirming therapist. As an ally for LGBTQ+ clients, this therapist is committed to providing excellent care. By actively seeking out information on current terminology and issues facing the LGBTQ+ community, they create a safe environment where your identity is respected and valued. Although they may not identify as LGBTQ+ themselves, they provide culturally competent care. It is common for therapists to advertise being "affirming" on their websites or directories. Additionally, you can ask them about their involvement in LGBTQ+ issues and what "affirming" means to them in their practice.

  • LGBTQ+ therapist. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community themselves, this therapist understands the issues facing this community. It is up to the therapist whether or not to disclose this information in their profiles. A therapist who has chosen to be open about this aspect of their identity may be more comfortable for you to see.

When making your decision, you should also consider the following factors:

  • Credentials. You should ensure that the therapist you are considering is a licensed therapist in your state with a good reputation.

  • Experience. Find a therapist who has experience working with LGBTQ+ people.

  • Therapeutic approach. A therapist's approach may differ from another's. You may be interested in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or psychodynamic therapy depending on your needs.

  • Communication style. You should find a therapist who you feel comfortable talking to. Pay attention to how they communicate and whether they listen and respond thoughtfully.

Finding the Perfect Therapist: A Guide for LGBTQ+ Individuals

Despite taking the above into consideration, as an LGBTQ+ individual, it can be difficult to find the right therapist. If you're looking for a good therapist, consider these tips:

Make a list of what you want to achieve.

Think about what you hope to gain from therapy before you begin. Are you struggling with anxiety, past experiences, gender identity, coming out, or relationship issues? Often, therapists specialize in certain areas, so find one who matches your goals. You can filter by specialty on websites like Psychology Today and Inclusive Therapists. Additionally, there are LGBTQ+-specific directories listed below.

Make use of LGBTQ+ resources.

There are many resources available to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Visit Depression Looks Like Me or your local LGBTQ+ community center for more information. Many of them offer mental health services themselves, as well as information about finding affirming therapists.

Get recommendations.

For therapist recommendations, ask friends, family, or LGBTQ+ organizations. You might know someone who has had a positive experience with affirming providers in your network.

Conduct an interview with a potential therapist.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Consider contacting them in advance to inquire about their background, training, and approach to working with LGBTQ+ clients. Ask them about their experience working with specific identities within the LGBTQ+ community.

Consider practicalities.

  • Insurance. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to see if they accept your plan.

  • Cost. Ask about sliding scales or payment plans if you don't have insurance or the therapist is out-of-network.

  • Location. If possible, consider telehealth appointments and travel costs.

  • Licensure. Even for virtual sessions, make sure the therapist is licensed in your state.

  • Availability. Make sure they accept new patients.

Making the First Appointment

In the first therapy session, you will get to know the therapist and see if they are a good fit for you. For your first appointment, here are some tips:

  • Prepare a list of questions. Again, ask about the therapist's experience working with LGBTQ+ clients, how he or she approaches therapy, and how much they charge.

  • Be upfront about your needs. Be specific about your therapy goals with the therapist.

  • Trust your gut. The relationship between you and your therapist should be one of comfort and safety. It's okay to keep searching if you don't find it a good fit.

LGBTQ+-Affirming Therapist Directories:

Need Help Now?

Here are some resources if you're experiencing a crisis:

  • Call 911 for immediate medical emergencies.

  • Call 988 for a trained crisis counselor.

  • Consider LGBTQ+-specific hotlines, such as LGBT National Hotline or Trans Lifeline for confidential support and resources.

Don't forget that finding the right therapist is a journey. It's okay if the first one doesn't fit perfectly. If you feel uncomfortable and unsafe talking to someone, keep searching until you find someone you feel comfortable with.

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