Being gay is tough. Especially here in the conservative south with limited access to resources and gay-affirming community groups. People identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, or anything other than cisgender heterosexual face community-specific stressors on top of normal day to day stress. This is called “minority stress” and plenty of research has shown that this can cause increased mental health issues. One way to alleviate this is to seek not only a LGBTQ-affirming therapist, but a therapist who also identifies as LGBTQ.
Most licensed therapists should be trained to work with LGBTQ clients, especially if they identify as “gay-affirming.” However, there can be an extra “something” that can be found when choosing a LGBTQ therapist. Many clients have found it easier to discuss sexual details, relationship issues, and anxiety and depression that is specifically related to the stress of being LGBTQ when they are with a LGBTQ therapist. Because therapy is so personal, it can be much easier to build a therapeutic alliance when these topics are discussed openly and comfortably, even when the reason for seeking therapy is not directly related to the experience of being LGBTQ. Gay therapists may also be more knowledgeable on local resources and the specifics of being LGBTQ in the local community.
Choosing the right therapist for you is a major decision and it can make a huge difference in your progress in managing your mental health. Don’t be afraid to ask your therapist questions about training, their past work with LGBTQ clients, and their overall approach to therapy. Good therapists are open and honest and will be willing to work with you even if that means helping you find another therapist who may be a better fit.
All of the therapists at Wellspring are LGBTQ-affirming and have had experience working with LGBTQ clients. I identify as gay and I have a specific focus on LGBTQ clients so I would be happy to work with anyone in the community! Again, your issues may not be related to your sexual orientation or gender identify but it can be much easier to build trust with a therapist who knows these issues. Just think about what is right for you and please contact us with any questions.
These are some great articles on this same subject for further research: