When looking for mental health support it is important to find a therapist that will see you as an individual while also respecting and understanding your identity. It can be incredibly stressful to find affirming mental health support, but it does not have to be impossible.
The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project provides public education, research and resources that can be accessed 24/7 through their website focusing on crisis intervention services and suicide prevention for members of the LGBTQI+ community under the age of 25. They have trained and licensed crisis counselors who are available through calls, texts, or chats who provide confidential and secure services.
Text: ‘Start’ to 678-678
Mental Health America
Mental Health America partnered with the Human Rights Campaign to develop a screening tool that can be helpful for individuals looking for affirming mental health care and providers. This tool was created to support Queer and Trans Black, Indigenous, People of Color (QTBIPOC) find culturally responsive and affirming mental health care. It has questions centered around discovering what experience and training a therapist has in topics of inclusion, responsiveness, and intersectionality.
The Therapeutic Relationship
As a client you have the right to quality therapeutic services that are professional, ethical, and maintain healthy boundaries. While it is important to find a therapist who uses certain styles of therapy and treatments that you are looking for, studies show that the therapeutic relationship is significantly more impactful than the methods a counselor uses in sessions. If you do not trust or feel supported by your therapist, it is unlikely that you will benefit from their services. A good therapist will be open to discussing concerns that a client has about the therapeutic process and relationship and respond to those concerns appropriately. Clients also have the right to terminate services if they feel that a
therapist is not the right fit for them and their goals. Additionally, it is important to remember that even if a therapist describes themselves as LGBT-affirming, they still may not be the right choice for you. Most practices provide background information and biographies for their therapists. This can give you insight on their counseling style, experiences, certification, and specialties and help you determine if they may be the right fit.
It can be overwhelming when looking for a therapist or when determining if a therapist is the right fit for you. Sometimes a client may feel that they need to discontinue services with a therapist or look for a second opinion. Listed below are a few key takeaways for clients to remember.
Clients have the right to terminate services with a therapist at any time.
It is not the client’s responsibility to educate a therapist on their identity.
Clients can report concerns about unethical behaviors to the appropriate licensing board or professional organization that the provider would belong to.
If your therapist is under licensing supervision as an associate therapist, you may also discuss concerns with their supervisor.
written by: Dawn Ruane LAC