Why LGBTQ Therapy Services Are So Important

Updated August 23, 2023by MyTherapist Editorial Team

Marginalized groups aren’t always recognized in standard care. However, we know that marginalized groups are more likely to experience various mental and physical health concerns due to stigma, misunderstanding, being overlooked in standard care settings, and other factors. This is, unfortunately, true for the LGBTQIA+ community. Although it can’t do it all, LGBTQIA+ therapy is crucial to the solution.

So, what is the role of LGBTQIA+ therapy specifically, and why is it so important?

Getty/AnnaStills
Do You Need Help Finding A Qualified Mental Health Professional?

What Is LGBTQIA+ Therapy, And Why Do We Need It?

LGBTQIA+ therapy is mental health therapy that is not only supportive of but created purposefully for the LGBTQIA+ community. It is also called LGBTQIA+ affirming therapy. Many different things inform the need for LGBTQIA+ therapy. Here are some possible reasons a person may choose to seek LGBTQIA+ therapy or LGBTQIA+ affirming therapy:

  • Homophobia and transphobia from previous medical or mental health providers.

LGBTQIA+ therapy is vital because it is more likely to truly and genuinely be a safe space. The trauma from seeing uninformed providers can make it tough to reach out, contributing to an increase in or worsening mental health problems. Many LGBTQIA+ people have faced discrimination or missteps due to a lack of understanding, some of which are dangerous and even life-threatening, in the medical or mental health care system. LGBTQIA+ therapy is informed care and is a space specifically made for people in this population, making for better, more effective care. 

  • Trust and acceptance.

Of course, medical and mental health settings aren’t the only place a person might experience homophobia or transphobia. As a result, it can be hard to trust people who may not deeply understand your community. You want to believe that people will accept you, but for many people, there’s a genuine risk that you’ll encounter someone who won’t. When you see an LGBTQIA+ therapist who makes it known that they welcome you as a whole person, you might find that your body and mind relax. It’s hard to be on guard all of the time, but unfortunately, this is a common experience among LGBTQIA+ people, hence why community and safe spaces are so crucial.

  • Understanding of LGBTQIA+ specific concerns.

Marginalized groups face unique concerns that people outside of those groups don’t always think about. Problems specific to LGBTQIA+ people, like coming out or gender dysphoria, will often be better understood by a provider in this setting. This can also be true for specific terminology that the community uses. Different therapists are suitable for different people. This can be true across the board because different therapists have varying areas of specialty or understanding. It makes sense to see someone who specializes in your population in any context, and many people have a preference for that. This is no different.

What Do You Talk About In LGBTQIA+ Therapy?

You can go to LGBTQIA+ therapy for anything that impacts your mental health or life overall. You don’t have to talk about LGBTQIA+ specific topics in treatment; you may pursue it simply because it makes for a more comfortable space to talk about anything that’s going on in your life.

AGUSTÍN FARIAS

Examples of what you might talk about in therapy include but are not limited to:

Relationships

Relationships aren’t just limited to those and the category of romantic relationships. They also include friendships and other bonds you might have in life. You can see an LGBTIA+ affirming therapist for individual therapy, couples therapy, family therapy, or even group therapy. Some of the benefits of group therapy for LGBTQIA+ is the platform to meet others who also experience the same struggles as they do.

Mental And Physical Health Conditions

About one in five adults within the general population in the United States live with a mental health condition. That number increases for those in the LGBTQIA+ community. Additionally, physical health problems, such as chronic illnesses, can negatively impact mental health, which no one is immune to.

Life Stress

We all face life stress. Life stress may refer to stress in the workplace, at school, or in other settings and environments. Exposure to things like homophobia can compound other sources of stress and is known to lead to higher stress levels, and this is a fact backed by research. So, in addition to the other stressors a person might face in their life, such as a large workload, navigating life as a new parent, or an otherwise busy schedule, stress levels can be higher among people within the community, leading us to understand once again there’s a prevalent need for affirming care.

Gender Dysphoria

Feeling comfortable in your body is something that most struggle with at some point in their lives. However, gender dysphoria (defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a “conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify”) is a unique condition experienced by transgender people. This is only one of many different issues that transgender people might face in their day-to-day life that can affect mental health. Gender dysphoria can affect both binary and nonbinary transgender people.

With more and more people feeling safe enough identifying themselves as transgender (a recent study by The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy shows just under 1% of the population, which equals around 1.4 million people nationwide, identify this way), therapy becomes essential to help them work through or manage what can be potentially significant and even life-threatening issues.

Of course, these are only some topics you can address in therapy. Family life, trauma, and other concerns are other examples of what you might want to discuss with a therapist. 

We know the risk of suicide decreases for people within the community when they can receive affirming care and get the social support they need. These things all prove that having a supportive environment matters.

If you or a loved one are experiencing thoughts of or related to suicide, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 988 and is available 24/7. You may also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting  “HOME” to 741741 or the Trevor Lifeline at 1-(866)-488-7386.

Getty/Halfpoint Images
Do You Need Help Finding A Qualified Mental Health Professional?

How Do You Find LGBTQIA+ Therapy Services?

There are many different ways to locate an LGBTQIA+ therapist near you. Here are some options:

  • If you feel comfortable, ask your doctor for a referral to a therapist or counselor.
  • Web search. You can conduct a web search for “LGBTQIA+ therapist near me” or search for other relative terms.
  • Online directories. These typically allow you to search for a provider based on location and other identifiers, such as the populations or specialties they work with.

You can also sign up for an online therapy platform. For example, BetterHelp has a wide range of providers, including those informed about LGBTQIA+ topics.

It is essential for people seeking therapy to remember that they aren’t committed to continuing treatment with the first therapist that they choose. If they meet with them and feel uncomfortable for any reason, it is okay to try another therapist. The bond between clients and their therapist matters, and this can be particularly true for those in marginalized groups.

Finding quality care you can trust matters, and it’s something that we all deserve. Please don’t hesitate to contact a provider near you or sign up for an online therapy service that meets your needs today.

Online Counseling Makes It Easy To Address Your Mental Health Issues

Therapy is a personal experience; not everyone will go into it seeking the same things. These things can ensure you get the most out of online therapy, regardless of your specific goals.

Regardless of what kind of support you need, signing up with an online therapy platform is one way to ensure you get a qualified therapist who can help. When you sign up, you fill out a questionnaire to ensure you get matched with a therapist who is experienced in helping people like you. You can attend sessions from the comfort of your home or anywhere you have an internet connection, and you don’t have to worry about taking time out of your day to commute to an office. 

Plus, research shows that online therapy is as effective as in-person treatment. If you’re ready to take the next step, sign up with a platform like BetterHelp to get started.

For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns

This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.