Why LGBTQ Therapy Services Are So Important

Updated November 24, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Marginalized groups aren’t always recognized in standard care. However, what we know based on research is that marginalized groups are more likely to experience a variety of different 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 a crucial part of the solution.

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

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.  Sometimes, it is also called LGBTQIA+ affirming therapy. There are many different things that 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, which can contribute to an increase in or the worsening of 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 homophobic or transphobia.  As a result, it can be hard to trust people who may not have a deep understanding of your community. You want to believe that people will accept you, but for many people, there’s a very real 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. Concerns that are 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 people within a community use. Different therapists are right for different people, and part of the reason this can be true across the board is that different therapists, such as the gender therapist, 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 therapy; you may pursue it simply because it makes for a more comfortable space to talk about anything that’s going on in your life.

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 experiences the same struggles as they do. In therapy, you can talk about any relationships that exist in your life. 

Mental And Physical Health Conditions

About one and 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, and that’s something that no one is immune to.

Life Stress

We all face life stress. Life stress may refer to stress that takes place in the workplace, at school, or in other settings and environments. Exposure to things like homophobia can compound other sources of stress and are 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, if not all, 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 all across the globe. 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 important to help them work through or manage what can be potentially significant and even life-threatening issues.

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

We know based on research that the risk of suicide* decreases for people within the community when a person is able to 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 1-800-273-8255, and is available 24/7. You may also reach the  Crisis Text Line by texting  “HOME” to 741741 or reach the Trevor Lifeline at 1-(866)-488-7386.

Do You Need Help Finding A Qualified Mental Health Professional?

How Do You Find LGBTQIA+ Therapy Services?

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

  • If you feel comfortable, you may 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 who are informed in LGBTQIA+ topics.

It is important for people seeking therapy to remember that they aren’t committed to continuing therapy through 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 reach out to a provider near you or sign up for an online therapy service that meets your needs today.

For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns

Speak with a Licensed Therapist Today
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
Get The Support You Need From One Of Our Therapist
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.