Finding an Affirming Therapist

Finding a therapist may seem daunting, so here are some helpful tips when conducting research.

Finding an affirming therapist.

Affirming, competent mental health therapists are available to support and help you heal.  

Here are some helpful tips to consider when finding an affirming therapist. 

The LGBTQIA+ community encounters stressors that negatively affect their physical and mental well-being.  Some of these stressors include rejection, discrimination, violence, unaffirming spaces and/or providers, and health care disparities.  These experiences can be traumatic, and lead to feelings of anxiety, fear, helplessness, discouragement, or mistrust.  Internal and/or external stressors coupled with trauma can feel overwhelming and as if there is no way out.  Affirming, competent mental health therapists are available to support and help you heal. 

Mental health therapists have varying levels of expertise and utilize a range of treatment modalities.  They can help you in areas such as identity exploration, coming out, gender transition, trauma recovery, stress management, and skill building.  Looking for a therapist may seem daunting, so here are some helpful tips to consider when conducting your search. 

  1. Gather Resources.  Reach out to your primary care doctor or other trusted providers for a list of referrals.  If you have health insurance, log into to your account to search for mental health therapists or call the insurance company directly to request this information.  Ask family members or friends for resources too. They may be familiar with clinics or organizations that have connections with affirming therapists. 
  2. Request a phone consultation.  Therapists typically offer brief phone consultations to prospective clients who may want more information about their clinical background, expertise, and special populations they serve.  Consultations offer you an opportunity to know the therapist more and determine whether they are a match for your needs and concerns.  It is also a great way to get a glimpse of their personality and therapy style. 
  3. Ask Questions.  During your phone consultation or intake appointment with a therapist, you are welcome to ask the following questions, “How are you going to keep me safe?”, “In what ways are you an affirming provider?”, and “What is your experience working with individuals with similar concerns as mine?”  It is important to work with a therapist who you connect and feel safe and comfortable with as this will maximize your therapy experience. 

Finding an affirming therapist.

4.  Choose the Right Fit.  Once you have completed your search, take the time to compare the therapists whom you spoke with.  Trust your intuition.     If you later learn you are not connecting well with a therapist, let them know.  They can adjust their therapeutic approach to fit your needs and concerns.   If that does not work, then it is okay to terminate services.  They will gladly assist and connect you with another provider who might be a better fit for you.

Affirming therapists are out there to help you begin the healing process.  It might take a while to find a match, just remember to be patient and trust yourself and the process.  You will be on your therapy journey before you know it! 

About the Author:

Caroline is a bilingual Licensed Professional Counselor Associate at West Lake Houston Counseling who specializes in working with adults and teens of color who deal with anxiety, depression, and stress. She also works closely with first-generation communities.

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