This post is part of a series offering tips for finding affirming and culturally sensitive care for your identity or background. In the mental health field, we know that having the right therapist is essential for therapy to be helpful. Therapy should be a place where you feel safe, supported, and understood.
So how do you find the right therapist? One thing to look for is a therapist who you feel comfortable talking to–someone who “gets” you. This probably means they understand the things that are unique about you and your life experiences. Most importantly, the right therapist affirms your sexual orientation and gender identity.
See below for some general guidance on finding affirming care and specific information and resources for finding the right therapist if you’re LGBTQ+.
We’ll update this post as we get more information and find new resources, so bookmark this page!
Interview your therapist
One way to find out whether a therapist will affirm your sexual orientation and gender identity is to ask them a few questions before starting therapy. Think of this as a therapist “interview.” It’s normal to have some anxiety or worry about asking these questions.
You can ask these questions over the phone, by email, or in person.
We recommend trying to interview a potential therapist over the phone so you can hear their voice. If they charge for the first visit, this could also save you money if it turns out they weren’t a good match.
Some sample questions you could ask your therapist include:
- “How would you describe your experience treating clients who share my LGBTQ+ identity?”
- “Describe your knowledge of safety risks related to my identity as an LGBTQ+ person.”
- What is your position on so-called “conversion therapy”? (This is an example of non-affirming care that attempts to change a client’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.)
- “What is your position on the mental health impact of navigating anti-LGBTQ+ bias and discrimination?”
- “What is your position on the mental health impact of navigating multiple systems of oppression?”
(Thanks to our friends at Human Rights Campaign and Mental Health America for developing these questions!)
Remember: even when a therapist has the same background as you, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll like working with them. Know your rights as a therapy client! Try out different therapists to see who you click with best and whose style you like.
Where to find the right therapist
Here’s a list of places where you can find a therapist who identifies as LGBTQ+, or at least affirms your sexual orientation and gender identity.
- GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality
- National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network
- Pride Counseling
- Pride Institute
- Psychology Today-Find a Gay Therapist
- Therapy for Queer People of Color
- The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH)
Many local organizations can help you find a therapist who identifies as LGBTQ+ or provide referrals for affirming providers in your community. Below are some examples, but many more exist!
- InTRANSitive (Arkansas)
- NWA Equality (Arkansas)
- PFLAG (Arkansas)
- River Valley Equality Center (Arkansas)
- Center on Halsted (Chicagoland)
- Chicago Women’s Health Center (Chicagoland)
- Callen-Lorde Community Health Center (New York City)
- Gender & Family Project (GFP) (New York City)
- Gerald J. Friedman Transgender Program for Health & Wellness (New York City)
- IHI Therapy Center (New York City)
- Lighthouse (New York City)
- PFLAG (New York City)
- TransNewYork (New York City)
- Manhattan Alternative (New York City)
- The Center on Colfax (Colorado)
- Whitman-Walker Health (Washington, DC)
You can also search our directory for affordable mental health services that specifically serve LGBTQ+ individuals.