LGBTQIA Therapy Services: Therapy That Celebrates Your Authentic Self
- Do you need a safe space to process questioning your sexual orientation or gender identity so you can better understand yourself?
- Are you struggling with mental health issues but afraid to seek help because you worry a therapist will invalidate your lived experiences?
- Do you wonder about how to come out to family and friends, or if you should?
- Do your relationships suffer because you aren’t able to live as your authentic self?
- Do you feel isolated and need help finding an LGBTQIA community that will embrace you?
- Does the stress of the social and political climate surrounding LGBTQIA issues affect your mental health?
Sexual orientation and gender identity aren’t always a cause of mental health issues. However, for some people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, asexual, or any other orientation or gender identity living as a minority contributes to mental health problems. While the world is becoming more welcoming for people of all sexual orientations and genders, we have a long way to go before the social and political climate is inclusive. The lack of community and outright discrimination the LGBTQ community faces can cause or exacerbate mental health problems.
Members of the LGBTQIA community who seek therapy often struggle to find an affirming therapist who will validate their experiences and perspectives. While mental health professionals should be judgment-free, that isn’t always the case. Read on for more about LGBTQIA therapy and how you can ensure you find the right counseling services to meet your needs.
What Does LGBTQIA Stand For?
LGBTQIA stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, intersex, and asexual. IT replaced the former LGBT because it’s more inclusive of those questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity. Some people use the acronym GSM (gender and sexual minorities) or LGBTQ+ because they feel it includes a broader range of people who face discrimination or lack of inclusivity.
In addition to LGBTQIA, sexual orientation and gender identity are essential to understanding the need for affirmative therapy services. Both terms exist on a spectrum and can shift throughout a person’s life.
- Sexuality, sexual identity, and sexual orientation describe someone’s physical, romantic or sexual attraction to other people and how that relates to gender.
- Gender identity: Your internal sense of where you fit on the spectrum. People can be male, female, or non-binary and may choose pronouns such as he/him, she/her, and they/them, depending on what feels most authentic.
LGBTQIA Issues Affect Therapy Services
While being a member of the LGBTQIA community doesn’t cause mental health issues, there is a correlation between identify-related matters and mental health. According to a 2021 study by The Trevor Project, a nonprofit providing support and resources to LGBTQ+ people, 72% of LGBTQ youth reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder compared to 19.1% of the entire U.S. population. Furthermore, 62% of LGBTQ youth reported symptoms of a major depressive disorder compared to only 8.4 % of the U.S. population.
Many people who identify as LGBTQIA struggle with the same life stressors and mental health problems that others face, including
- Substance use disorder
- Low self-esteem
However, as members of a marginalized group, the following may add a different dimension to mental health challenges:
- Physical, sexual, and medical issues related to gender identity and trouble accessing appropriate health services.
- Issues with gender identity and gender dysmorphia, clients may wish to physically or medically alter their bodies so that their physical appearance is in line with how they identify.
- Social isolation or conflict caused by stigma, homophobia, and discrimination. (this isolation can be challenging for adolescents to navigate.)
- Relational problems with family, friends, and significant others who invalidate or don’t support your identity.
- Trauma from attempted conversion therapy, violations of human rights, or abuse.
Therapy for Gender and Sexual Identity Issues
Suppose you are a member of the LGBTQ community struggling with mental health issues while also questioning your sexual or gender identity. In that case, it can be difficult to prioritize which problems to tackle first. An LGBTQIA-friendly therapist can help you prioritize what will be most helpful for your mental health during your journey. The goal is to improve your daily life while helping you accomplish your goals.
A therapist can help you become comfortable with who you are before trying to build or repair relationships.
The right clinician can help you find people who are likely to be supportive allies and identify those likely to be harmful to your journey.
A therapist can help you learn to advocate for yourself in medical, social, and family situations.
Affirmative therapy can help you navigate the triggers and negative thoughts that keep you stuck in anxiety and depression and give you strategies for coping.
Therapy can help you decide if you wish to transition from the gender assigned at birth and deal with the social stigma of being gender non-conforming.
Finding a Queer or LGBTQIA Affirming Therapist
At SMPsychotherapy and Counseling Services, we provide strength-based counseling for members of the LGBTQIA community. Our clinicians understand the intricacies of dealing with mental health issues as a marginalized group member. We offer an empathetic space where your perspectives and experiences are validated, and we never consider your sexual orientation and gender identity a problem that needs solving. We’ll help you use your strengths and those of your community to help you navigate mental health issues. You deserve a life that feels comfortable and uniquely yours. We would be honored to help you on your journey.
Frequently asked questions
How do I get started with a therapist?
To get started with a therapist, contact our office today. We’re ready to answer your questions, learn about you, and match you with the best clinician for your needs.
What if the therapist isn’t a good fit?
We want you to find the right therapist for your unique needs. At SMPsychotherpay, we have providers with various specialties, and there are no hard feelings if you decide to switch providers. Our goal is your well-being.
Will my therapist out me if I’m not ready?
Many young people who seek therapy worry that their counselor will out them to family members. As LGBTQIA affirmative therapists, we understand the need for discretion. We can help you discuss your sexual orientation and gender identity with your loved ones when you’re ready, but we will never violate your trust by outing you.
How much does therapy cost?
We accept most insurance plans, so you likely won’t be responsible for more than a simple copay. For more details contact your insurance company or our office.