While finding the right therapist can be difficult for anyone, finding an LGBTQIA+-affirming therapist can be even more challenging. It is probably easier to find LGBTQIA+-affirming therapists for patients living near more urban areas than those living in more rural areas. For example, there may be more LGBTQIA+-affirming therapists in Austin, Texas, than in Alexander, North Dakota. However, taking the time to find the right therapist can help save the patient both time and money, and avoid even more challenges in the future.
Benefits of finding an LGBTQIA+-affirming therapist
Finding the right therapist is crucial to having productive, successful therapy sessions. Having an LGBTQIA+-affirming therapist can create a sense of safety and make the patient more comfortable opening up in sessions. Furthermore, the patient would not need to use up part of their sessions explaining aspects of their identity to their therapist. With an LGBTQIA+-affirming therapist, the patient can feel at ease knowing they will not be judged, can continue to explore their identity, and know that therapy will help rather than hurt them.
Find a queer-competent care center
One way to find an LGBTQIA+-affirming therapist is through a queer-competent care center. These centers provide queer-competent providers who may be allies or LGBTQIA+ themselves. While there are no official requirements for being defined as queer-competent, queer-competent providers tend to be knowledgeable of and experienced with queer mental health concerns.
Use an online directory
LGBTQIA+-affirming therapists can also be found through online directories, which are useful tools for narrowing down a patient’s options. Patients can search for therapists by city or zip code and filter results by language and expertise. For example, if a patient wanted an expert in trans issues or polyamory, they could refine their search to include only therapists with those specialties who are also located within their area.
Pay attention to specialties
It is also important to pay attention to the therapists’ specialties, including what type of therapy they offer. They may practice cognitive behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, psychoanalysis, or something else. Patients may want to consider what type of therapy makes the most sense for the issues they’re facing.
Therapists can also specialize in specific issues, like gender-affirming care, sexual identity, life transitions, anxiety, relationships, or grief. If the patient knows exactly what they need help with, looking into the therapist’s specialty can ensure they work with someone who understands the challenges they’re experiencing.
After finding the name of a potential LGBTQIA+-affirming therapist, the patient may want to research them online and look to see if they may have written any articles or appeared in any interviews or podcasts. This information can provide a better sense of a therapist’s practices and values. Maybe they’ve written articles on OCD or have given presentations about PTSD. Most importantly, there may be reviews online from current or former patients of that therapist.
Ask them questions
As a final step before committing to a session with a therapist, the patient should see if the therapist offers a consultation. This is an opportunity for the patient to ask any questions they may have and better understand what to expect from sessions together. This way, they can feel confident moving forward.