A Guide to Choosing an LGBTQIA+ Affirming Therapist
Embarking on the journey of therapy is a courageous step toward self-discovery and well-being. For members of the LGBTQIA+ community, finding a therapist who is affirming and supportive of their unique experiences is paramount. In this blog post, we’ll provide some tips guidance on how to find the right LGBTQIA+ affirming therapist for you.
Understanding the Importance of Affirmation
LGBTQIA+ affirming therapy is centered on recognizing, validating and affirming the diverse identities and experiences within the community. Affirmative therapy embraces a positive view of LGBTQIA+ identities and relationships, and addresses the negative influences that homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism have on members of the community. Affirmation goes beyond tolerance; it involves understanding the unique challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals and creating a safe, supportive space for their mental health journey.
Check Therapist Credentials and Specializations
Begin your search for an affirming therapist by checking their credentials and areas of specialization. Many therapists include information about their LGBTQIA+ affirming practices in their profiles. Look for therapists with experience working with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.
Review Therapist Directories
Utilize online therapist directories that specifically highlight LGBTQIA+ affirming practitioners. Websites like the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN), Inclusive Therapists, Psychology Today, or TherapyDen allow you to filter therapists based on their LGBTQIA+ affirming practices.
Ask for Recommendations
Reach out to friends, support groups, or community organizations for recommendations. Personal referrals can be invaluable in finding a therapist who not only has the necessary expertise but also understands the unique nuances of LGBTQIA+ experiences.
Interview Potential Therapists
Many therapists offer free initial consultations or interviews. Take advantage of this opportunity to ask questions about their approach, experience, and affirming practices. Inquire about their knowledge of LGBTQIA+ issues and their commitment to creating a safe and inclusive therapeutic space. If you decide to schedule an intake appointment, use this as an opportunity to get a feel for therapist fit. Notice if you feel safe and affirmed, and if you find the therapist’s personality and approach to therapy to be a good fit for you.
Look for Inclusive Language
Pay attention to a therapist’s use of inclusive language on their website or in communication. Affirming therapists are mindful of using gender-inclusive language and demonstrating an understanding of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations. Notice if intake forms provide you with the ability to for you to provide your gender identity, pronouns, and preferred name, This attention to detail reflects a commitment to creating an inclusive space.
Assess Cultural Competence
Cultural competence is crucial in LGBTQIA+ affirming therapy. Assess whether a therapist has undergone training or has experience working with LGBTQIA+ clients as well as intersecting identities. A culturally competent therapist is more likely to understand the specific challenges and strengths within the community.
Consider Teletherapy Options
If local options are limited, consider exploring teletherapy with affirming therapists who offer online services. Teletherapy can provide access to a wider pool of potential therapists. Note that most therapists can only practice in the state(s) in which they are licensed, but usually can provide telehealth services anywhere in that state.
Trust Your Instincts
Trust your instincts when selecting a therapist. Feeling a sense of comfort, trust, and understanding during the initial consultations is essential. If something feels off or if you don’t sense a genuine commitment to LGBTQIA+ affirmation, it’s okay to explore other options.
Once you establish care, advocate for your needs throughout the therapy process. If you find that the therapist isn’t adequately affirming or if you encounter challenges, communicate openly about your concerns. A collaborative and affirming therapeutic relationship is built on mutual respect and understanding, and your therapist should be open to feedback.
Your well-being deserves affirmation, validation, and a therapeutic space where you can be safe to show up authentically. Providing excellent, affirming therapy to the LGBTQIA+ community is a core value at Desert Lotus Counseling. If you’re interested in learning more about our services, please feel free to reach out via the contact form on the website.