Most common questions on Finding a Therapist as an LGBTQIA+ Person

Finding LGBTQIA therapist | New Connections Counseling Center at Baltimore, MD

Throughout my career, I’ve gravitated to working with various Queer communities. Not surprising given my original clinical training at the LGBGTQIA+ Cultural Center, or a certain beloved Midwestern university. One of the recurring challenges I’ve seen LGBTQIA+ people face while searching for a therapist is finding providers who are both affirming and knowledgeable. Unfortunately the former doesn’t always imply the latter.

I’ve lived in the Midwest, New England, and now in the Mid-Atlantic. And with some regularity, past clients, interns, and colleagues reach out to check how to locate such providers. Or to vet providers early on.

If you’ve ever read any of my other blog posts, then you know that I’m not a fan of hardline answers. A provider can be both of the above and still be a poor fit due to clinical approach or personality. However, I believe there are some general things you can do to increase the odds of finding the best therapist for you, as a member of the LGBTQIA+ Community. In that spirit, I’m going to take a crack at answering many of the most common questions I’ve received over the years.

Common questions about Finding a Therapist as an LGBTQIA+ Person

What’s the difference between an affirming provider and an affirming and knowledgeable provider?

Photo of two men holding a pride flag and smiling representing the importance of mental health care for the LGBTQIA+ community. Our affirming therapists offer anxiety treatment, depression counseling & more in the Baltimore area for the LGBTQIA+ community.A lot.

Sorry. I’ll work to contain the glibness. If this is a new question for you, let me break it down.

An affirming clinician is one who, generally speaking, is supportive of LGBTQIA+ identity. Who rightly views gender, romantic and sexual orientations as important parts of the human experience with innumerable healthy and natural expressions. (Note that affirming and ally are also not the same thing — more on that later.) In my opinion, it is a necessary but insufficient condition to do good clinical work with community members.

Shouldn’t that be enough? How could that be insufficient?

I’ve heard stories about clients who have not had good therapy experiences. Maybe they were seeking anxiety treatment or depression counseling so they focused on finding a competent clinician to treat those who stated they were LGBTQ+ accepting somewhere on their website.  They were on the right track, because a clinician had listed themselves as either an ally or even a member of the community on their Psychology Today profile.

Understanding how queer identity impacts mental health and wellbeing across the lifespan and intersects with other aspects of identity like race, economic class, ability, age, religion, ethnicity…etc requires a lot of dedication to ongoing training and learning. Now, to be clear, your therapist doesn’t need a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology or gender studies to have this. However, it requires more Picture of two men looking at a computer screen together with one's arm wrapped around the other representing a gay couple looking for a therapy in Baltimore, MD. Our counselors help with anxiety, depression, relationships, parental stress, trauma & more!than being a practitioner who doesn’t have any overt prejudice against queer people or who is queer themselves.

Regarding the latter, one of the earliest things I teach clinical supervisees who are part of the Community: your lived experience is incredibly valuable *and* not necessarily generalizable — and there’s a danger in assuming that it is. Over the years I’ve seen a lot of queer therapists assume being queer can replace any additional training, reading, or learning. It can’t.

Some helpful questions to ask potential therapists if queer identity is important to you:

  • The training, reading, workshops, etc. they’ve completed to specialize in this area?
  • How do they remain competent in LGBTQIA+ care?
  • What roles do they think gender, sexual orientation (etc) play in mental health?
  • The actions they do to ally with queer communities?

If I’m queer, should my therapist be too? Can allies make good therapists for queer people?

My short answers are respectively: Maybe and absolutely.

First, I think it can be deeply healing and helpful to see a therapist who shares identities that are similar to your own. Honestly there may be shared cultural language and understanding . And that can make forming a therapeutic bond significantly easier. It may be therapeutic all on its own to have a space in which one doesn’t have to be “on” or code-switch. If these things are valuable to you, then I strongly encourage you to honor that.

Fortunately, most therapist directories are moving towards making it easier to screen searches based on identity. Also, the increased availability of telehealth options for online therapy may make some practitioners more accessible than they were previously.

Photo of two black women laying on a pillow, holding hands and smiling representing people who have worked with an affirming therapist in Baltimore, MD at our counseling practice. We offering LGBTQIA+ affirming counseling services for anxiety, trauma, depression, parental stress &anxiety & more!As for the second question: some of the best affirming and knowledgeable therapists I know who work with the community are allies. Notice I’ve made a distinction between someone who is affirming and someone who is an ally. For me, ally goes beyond a passive academic understanding or acceptance of queer identity. Allies move beyond this and are engaged in supporting the queer communities. Often beyond the therapy room, by being active advocates in their institutions and communities. Additionally, they regularly pursue ongoing learning around queer mental health.

The above questions are good for allied practitioners as well, but I would add one more:

What makes this work important to you?

As mentioned earlier in this novel, hard and fast answers in the world of therapy are rare. But I hope these provide a good start to your search!

Finding a Therapist as an LGBTQIA+ Person in Baltimore, MD

LGBTQIA counseling near me | New Connections Counseling Center at Baltimore, MDHave you been searching for a therapist to work with you on processing sexual orientation and gender identity? Is it important to you find an experienced professional who is LGBTQ+ affirming and ready to support you with your mental health journey?

Our therapists in Baltimore will help you explore your identity. And, they can help you with a wide range of concerns. So, if you are struggling with anxietydepression, relationship concerns or overcoming trauma and live in Maryland, we are ready to help you. Keeping in mind your identity and what matters most to you!

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