Studies of lesbian and gay individuals in therapy indicate that there are still counselors who are either hostile to LGBTQ clients or lack knowledge of gay, lesbian, or transgender issues.
The following are actual quotes LGBT clients who worked with unprepared therapists:
"When I 'came out' to my therapist, he all of a sudden wanted to focus on that as if it was a problem. But my sexuality isn't a problem for me. I was in therapy for other reasons and so now I feel awkward bringing up certain topics with him."
"I spent about six months training my therapist to understand my life."
"I had to explain differences in lesbian relationships vs straight relationships."
Things Your Therapist Should Already Know
The impact of stress and stigma on the daily lives of LGBTQ people.
As a result of abuse, neglect, or bullying, LGBTQ youths and adults have higher rates of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicide risk.
LGBTQ older adults experience additional stresses resulting from the prejudices of earlier generations and the fact that most LGBTQ people age without children to support them.
Psychologists and counselors should be aware of the different relationship arrangements found in the LGBTQ community.
Providers should be knowledgeable about the complexities of becoming an LGBT parent.
A competent therapist or counselor should already know and be comfortable with the facts and myths about lesbian and gay sex life.
A good therapist should also be aware of the fluid, less restrictive ways gender can be experienced and expressed today.
Finding A Good Therapist For You
A few hints and suggestions when looking for a LGBTQ therapist or finding out if a therapist's practice is truly knowledgeable and friendly:
Advertises in the gay and lesbian community or uses LGBT language in online or general advertising.
Look for the use of neutral words like "relationship status" instead of "marital status."
Advertisements, web pages, or brochures should show gay, lesbian, and transgender images.
LGBTQ people frequently feel more comfortable in secular rather than religious organizations.
The bottom line is that you are entitled to a therapist who understands your issues in an environment that feels safe and accepting.
I'm a Specialist in LGBT Mental Health and Relationships
I'm an experienced gay therapist who specializes in working with LGBTQ clients like yourself. 80% of my clients are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. I am one of the few LGBTQ focused couples counselors in Atlanta.
I hope you'll consider letting me be your therapist. My office is a judgment-free, affirmative zone when you can be yourself and be accepted just as you are.
If you're ready to start making improvements in your life or your relationships, contact me today to schedule an appointment.