LGBTQ Therapy: How to find a LGBTQ Friendly Therapist
If you’re experiencing mental health concerns, you’re not alone. In the United States, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA) individuals experience mental health conditions three times as often as the rest of the population. Moreover, pre-existing mental health issues can be exacerbated if an individual experiences other marginalized identities. The bisexual and transgender communities have a higher risk of mental health concerns than the rest of the LGBTQ population. At the same time, LGBTQ youth experience the highest prevalence of mental health issues among all age groups.
LGBTQ individuals are incredibly resilient and thrive in the face of adversity with the social support of their family members, peers, and communities. One study found that queer and transgender individuals sought mental health treatment more often than the general population. Unfortunately, for many LGBT individuals, being queer or transgender can serve as a barrier toward seeking mental health treatment in and of itself, as it’s often challenging to find therapists who are LGBTQ+-literate.
As a result, finding the right therapist can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re experiencing stress, anxiety, or other mental health symptoms. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help LGBTQ+ individuals figure out which kind of therapy—and therapist—is right for them. Whether you’re thinking about trying therapy for the first time or searching for an authentic, compassionate LGBTQ provider, here are some tips for your search.
Starting Your Search
Finding an LGBTQ-friendly therapist isn’t always easy—and it’s not safe to assume that every clinician is knowledgeable or sympathetic to LGBTQ issues. Luckily, with the help of online directories, it’s possible to research potential providers before scheduling your first therapy session.
If you’re unsure where to start, one of the best ways to find LGBTQ therapy is online through an online therapy platform or directory. Tools like Psychology Today, the American Psychological Association (APA), and the Therapy Group of NYC make it easy for LGBT individuals to search for providers that match their personal preferences and requirements. Some directories also offer filters to narrow down potential providers, including gender identity, sexual orientation, insurance, and more.
When using online directories, it’s possible to find therapists in your area who understand LGBTQ issues and have experience working with trans and queer clients. Each provider has their profile with a section where you can learn more about their experience and practice. Be sure to read about their specialties, treatment approach, client focus, financial information, and qualifications before scheduling an appointment.
Finding the Right Therapist
When it comes to finding the right fit, there are two areas to pay attention to during your search:
- Client focus and specialties: Filter your search to find a provider whose clinical specialties match your needs. For example, if you’re experiencing substance use disorder or gender dysphoria, prioritize providers who have experience with these issues. Moreover, if you’re a person of color, consider searching for a provider with cultural competency training.
- Additional research: You can learn a lot about potential providers based on what they put online. After finding profiles that match your preferences and requirements, continue your research online. In addition to finding a provider specializing in queer and transgender issues, look for other qualities that you think will help the relationship. For example, it may be helpful to search for a counselor who shares your race, religion, or ethnic background. Ultimately, forming a deep, trusting therapeutic alliance can boost your success in psychotherapy.
During your first appointment, you’ll probably realize fairly quickly whether your therapist will be a good fit or you’ll need to keep looking.
“I think there are signs and queues right from the beginning that can be indications that this is gonna be a supportive environment,” says Madison McCullough, a licensed clinical social worker in New York City. For example, providers may use inclusive language or ask trans folks for their preferred pronouns to show that they’re LGBTQ+-affirming.
LGBTQ+ Mental Health Resources
In addition to online therapy directories, several mental health services and online resources are available to help the LGBTQ community connect, combat the stigma surrounding mental illness, overcome obstacles like homophobia and oppression, and educate family members and allies. Some helpful resources include:
- The Trevor Project is a leading national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ individuals. If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, or you need some support, The Trevor Project offers an online support center, text options, and a social networking safe space for LGBTQ adolescents and adults under 25.
- The Human Rights Campaign, American’s largest civil rights advocacy organization, offers valuable information and resources for LGBT community members, their families, and their allies.
- The Los Angeles LGBT Center provides programs and services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, including HIV and STD testing, social services and housing, and pride counseling and mental health services.
- The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network is dedicated to transforming mental health services for trans and queer individuals of color. The network features a mental health fund, as well as a therapist directory and educational resources.
- Psychology Today offers local information on support groups and counseling services for LGBT individuals.
- The Healthcare Equality Index evaluates healthcare facilities’ policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of their LGBTQ clients, visitors, and employees.
- The Therapy Group of NYC, a leading practice in NYC, connects clients to compassionate therapists using smart technology. Using the Therapy Group of NYC’s unique matchmaking assessment, LGBT clients can access confidential, personalized access to mental health professionals that match their preferences and requirements.
Regardless of how you choose your therapist, it’s essential to be as open and honest with them as you can. If your relationship doesn’t feel supportive, understanding, or respectful, remember that there’s always another therapist out there. Finding the right fit isn’t always easy, but it’ll change your life when you do.
Online Therapy for LGBTQ Individuals
If you’re not having any luck finding an LGBTQ+-literate therapist in your area, it may be worth considering online therapy. Many therapists and online therapy platforms offer group therapy, family therapy, and individual counseling through phone, online chat, and online video support so that you can access LGBTQ counseling from the comfort of your own home.
When you’re ready to get started for your search for a therapist, reach out to a mental health professional through the Therapy Group of NYC. Our licensed psychologists and therapists are here to help you thrive with the resources necessary to face life’s unique challenges with resourcefulness, resilience, and tenacity.