LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) adults are 2-4 times more likely to experience a mental health condition compared to non-LGBT people.
Therapy can be helpful for LGBTQ people. For example, it can help them to manage mental health conditions. However, finding LGBT-affirming therapists and mental health professionals isn’t always easy.
You may not be sure where to begin. Or, you may be hesitant about seeking out therapy. Because of this, we have outlined helpful information below. Further, the answers to these questions can help find a therapist who understands their perspective and will be respectful and professional.
Table of Contents
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What is an LGBT affirming therapist?
How do I know if a counselor is LGBT friendly?
How an LGBT friendly therapist can help
Should I look for a therapist that is LGBT?
Aren’t all therapists LGBT friendly?
What Is an LGBT-Affirming Therapist?
An LGBTQ-affirming therapist is someone who embraces a positive view of the LGBTQ community. Additionally, they understand and accept these identities. They also may address the negative things LGBTQ individuals.
There are 5 components of being an LGBT affirmative therapist:
- Self-reflection: The ability to reflect on one’s upbringing, attitudes, and beliefs while acknowledging areas of personal privilege and recognizing biases
- Involvement: Living an affirmative life and striving for social justice and change
- Creating an affirmative setting: Offices should include LGBTQ-friendly reading material and resources.
- Openness about one’s commitment: Professionals should be open about their desire to provide affirmative therapy to all clients
- Advocacy with heterosexual and/or cisgender clients: Therapists should advocate for LGBTQ individuals often.
How Do I Know if a Counselor Is LGBT-Friendly?
If a therapist or counselor can check the boxes listed above, there’s a good chance they’re LGBT-friendly and an LGBT-affirming professional. The following are some additional factors to consider:
Statements on Their Bio Page
Most therapists will have a bio page on their website that lists their credentials, background, specialties, etc. If a therapist is making a concentrated effort to be LGBT-affirming, they should include statements that make this fact known to everyone who’s considering working with them.
Listed in LGBT Directories
Many websites, such as Psychology Today, have tools that make it easier for people to find therapists that align with their needs. For those who want to find a therapist who is LGBTQ themselves, these websites also often include those details.
A Specialty in LGBT Issues
Some therapists have extensive knowledge about the experiences LGBT people deal with. Also, as well as the societal norms and constructs that contribute to those experiences. Most of the time, an LGBT-friendly therapist who specializes in LGBT issues will include that information in their bio.
Ask Them Directly
If a person feels comfortable doing so, they can also ask potential therapists directly whether or not they run an LGBTQ-friendly practice or offer affirming care to queer people.
How can LGBT-Friendly Therapist Can Help?
A therapist’s attitudes toward sexual orientation and gender identity are a key determinant in how helpful they were in handling a particular mental health issue.
So, an LGBT-friendly therapists be more helpful. This is true with both in individual and group therapy sessions. Also, they can also provide other benefits, including the following:
- LGBT-affirming therapists can be more empathetic and understanding. This allows them to provide better-tailored care
- Safety during therapy allowing clients to open up about their struggles
- Advanced knowledge about LGBT issues. A non-affirming therapist might not be aware of this knowledge. Thus, their care is not as effective.
Should I Look for a Therapist That Is LGBT?
In some cases, working with a therapist who is also part of the LGBTQ community can be more beneficial for LGBTQ individuals. Conversely, others feel fine working with a straight therapist. However, that therapist must be affirming and learned about the community they’re trying to support.
Ultimately, this is a decision that each person seeking therapy will need to make for themselves.
Aren’t All Therapists LGBT-friendly?
In a perfect world, all therapists would be LGBT-friendly. Unfortunately, though, that is not the case.
In fact, 21 percent of lesbian and gay study participants found their therapist to be viewed their sexual orientation as a problem.
Because of this, it is important to do your homework. Whether a patient lives in New York City or Lincoln Nebraska, they should verify a therapist’s credentials. So, do some digging to ensure they’re LGBT-affirming before they scheduling an appointment with them.
American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
Israel, T., Gorcheva, R., Burnes, T. R., & Walther, W. A. (2008). Helpful and unhelpful therapy experiences of LGBT clients. Psychotherapy Research, 18(3), 294-305.
Kelley, F. A. (2015). The therapy relationship with lesbian and gay clients. Psychotherapy, 52(1), 113.
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives. We do this through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. Inspired by this, we write content for your own education. Also, our content is researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals. However, the information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, it should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.