HOW TO FIND A THERAPIST
The irony of struggling with your mental health is that it can make asking for help all the more difficult. In general, LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience generalized anxiety and depression, with the affected percentage increasing with additional dimensions of marginalized identity and culture (1,2,3). Sharing common ground with your therapist, or at least finding a LGBTQ-literate, sex-positive health care provider can be incredibly affirming and help lower some of the apprehension associated with opening up to someone new. (This is the part where we stress: if you’re in a particularly low place and feel you’re at risk of harming yourself, please reach out for help now!)
Trevor Project (LGBTQ Youth): https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
Blackline (BIPOC Prioritized): https://www.callblackline.com/
Trans Lifeline (Trans People): https://translifeline.org/
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Obstacles to finding help are real—whether you’re looking for healthcare for your body or mind. Since it can be difficult to find providers who are allied or under the queer umbrella, here are some tips to help you find a good fit for your needs!
If you’re in or around our service area, check out our Resource Guide related to therapists. While inclusion in our Resource Guide shouldn’t be taken as an endorsement, we have taken time to ensure each of these individuals work with the LGBTQ+ community in a positive, affirming capacity.
Contact your doctor, school counselor, or trusted clergy. People who know you and care about you can help make recommendations.
Whether you have recommendations to work with or are seeking a therapist on your own, be sure to vet in advance:
Google, Google, Google! All those search skills you’ve honed over the years, can come in handy here. One suggestion is to search for “LGBTQ therapist” in your area. Go to their website. Check out their social media. Look at what other people are saying. While there isn’t really a Yelp for therapists, people do sometimes talk about their experiences. A little digital sleuthing really can give you a sense of who your Future New Therapist is and whether they’re a good match.
A therapist’s webpage should tell you about what they specialize in. Many also include endorsements from clients. Look at this information carefully. Does it match what you’re looking for?
Many therapists will talk about their style or philosophy to therapy. This is important information! Therapy is not one-size-fits-all and can include styles like Cognitive Behavior, Humanistic, and Psychodynamic, among others! Don’t get bogged down in the terms, but be aware that there are lots of types of “talk therapy”—understanding how a Future New Therapist works is an important part of the process.
Asking for an “interview” before you agree to any sessions is totally normal! Think of it like a first (very professional) date. Also, some therapists will do this type of consultation for a reduced fee.
Consider the information you want to know coming away from your initial consultation. Some common questions are...
-How long have you been practicing?
-Are you more prescriptive or guiding?
-How much do you charge and are there sliding-scale options?
-Is there a fee or other penalty for a cancelled appointment?
-What is a typical session like?
You should also consider asking them about their experience working with clients dealing with concerns or identities mirroring your own. Remember, though, some therapists will not discuss client outcomes as everyone responds differently. Also, be wary of any therapist who shares too much information about former or current clients! The client/therapist relationship is supposed to be a safe and confidential one.
Once you find someone, sticking with it for a few sessions will help you fully determine if it’s a good fit. If things aren’t quite comfortable or clicking in the way you’d like, don’t be afraid to move on. A client/therapist relationship isn’t necessarily forever and you might find that working with different therapists can provide new perspectives. And, of course, always, always, always advocate for yourself and your needs. If you make your needs known and your therapist isn’t meeting or respecting them, it might be time to move on.
Starting therapy can be a scary process, but the value it can bring to the healing of old wounds, building self-esteem and acceptance, and/or dealing with mental health or personal challenges is invaluable. Take the first step; you’ll be glad you did!
1. Wanta JW, Niforatos JD, Durbak E, Viguera A, Altinay M. Mental Health Diagnoses among Transgender Patients in the Clinical Setting: An All-Payer Electronic Health Record Study. Transgender Heal. 2019;4(1):313-315. doi:10.1089/trgh.2019.0029
2. Self-harm | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Identity-and-Cultural-Dimensions/LGBTQI. Accessed December 6, 2020.
3. McCabe SE, Hughes TL, Bostwick WB, West BT, Boyd CJ. Sexual orientation, substance use behaviors and substance dependence in the United States. Addiction. 2009;104(8):1333-1345. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02596.x