How to Find an LGBTQ+-Affirming Therapist

As there is no specific credential to look for to find an LGBTQ+-affirming therapist, here are a few tips.

1. Think About What You Want to Get Out of Therapy

When deciding you want talk therapy, consider what you want to get out of it. If you intend to talk about anxiety, past trauma, gender dysphoria, coming out, or marital issues, you may want to search for a therapist who specializes in those issues.

You can search for a therapist on a directory website like Psychology Today or Inclusive Therapists and use a filter to sort by speciality, such as anxiety or relationships. (See therapist directories specific to the LGBTQ+ community below.)

2. Turn to Mental Health Resources Developed for the LGBTQ+ Community

Dr. Ahuja recommends using mental health directories and says there are also resource guides available on the topic of LGBTQ+-affirming mental health care. He points to the resources section of the website for Depression Looks Like Me, a campaign about depression in the LGBTQ+ community.

“I think I would start with that if someone is looking for help,” he says. “The other thing to do is to go to any [LGBTQ+] community center in your area, if you have one. In Los Angeles, we’re lucky to have The LGBT Center [where he works], so a lot of people come to us and ask us these questions. We all have knowledge about resources and linking them to therapy, as well as medication management, if that’s needed, and different group therapies.”

3. Ask for Personal Recommendations From Friends and Family

Ahuja and Grant both say that personal recommendations from friends and family are another option. People in your network may already see providers they know are affirming from personal experience.

4. Do Your Own Screening Ahead of Time

Ask for a screening call before your first session with a provider or send an email to ask about their educational background, professional training, and their philosophy and approach to LGBTQ+ patient care.

Grant says it’s appropriate to ask something like, “What is your experience working with college-age gay men?” It’s appropriate to ask about any other specific identity you want to find alignment around, he says. Even if they don’t have past experience, the tone of their answer may give you insight into whether they’re someone you feel comfortable working with.

5. Keep Logistical Considerations in Mind

The APA advises people to consider other practical issues when looking for a therapist that’s right for you.

  • Insurance If you have health insurance, certain therapists will accept certain plans. You can search via your insurance provider’s directory, select your insurance company’s name as a filter to search a therapist directory, look on a therapist’s website, or ask a therapist directly which plans they accept.
  • Cost If you don’t have health insurance or if a therapist doesn’t accept insurance or your plan, you would pay for sessions out of pocket. Some therapists offer a sliding scale or payment plans. Remember that even with insurance there is usually a copay to pay for each session. Also consider if you’ll have travel costs for the sessions if you go in person, and ask about public transportation options and paid parking. It could also help to ask a therapist if they offer telehealth sessions to avoid travel expenses.
  • Licensure The therapist you meet with must be licensed in the state where you reside, even if you meet with them virtually.
  • Availability Before getting your heart set on a provider’s profile or bio, check if they are accepting new patients. Some may be closed to new patients or have a waiting list.

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