How to Find an LGBTQ+ Therapist

talking to a therapist

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When you decide to start therapy, it can be difficult to find the right therapist who can meet your needs and can truly understand you. LGBTQ+ clients specifically might want to find a therapist who shares their identity and understands their experience existing in a cisnormative and heteronormative world.

However, many therapists do not choose to share identity information in a way that is easily accessible to potential clients. This article offers tips and resources for finding an LGBTQ+ therapist.

Why You Might Want an LGBTQ+ Therapist

“Minority stress” refers to high, chronic stress levels that members of marginalized communities experience due to systemic oppression, lack of access to competent, affirming care, and trauma from bullying or hate crimes. Members of sexual or romantic orientation and gender identity minorities’ experience of minority stress has been linked to poorer mental health outcomes.

Bullying, microaggressions, and hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community have a strong impact on mental health. Many who have experienced these issues directly suffer from trauma symptoms as a result, with LGBTQ+ individuals experiencing much higher rates of trauma than straight and cisgender populations. Additionally, when encountering a new person, an LGBTQ+ individual does not know whether that person is safe or will cause them further stress or harm.

Many LGBTQ+ individuals have experienced trauma related to medical care. Providers may make assumptions based on their own biases about patients’ sexual histories or pathologize patients’ orientations. For example, a physician might be concerned about an asexual patient having a “low sex drive” and push to “treat” this issue rather than accepting the patient’s orientation.

Transgender individuals often experience pushback and gatekeeping from the medical community when seeking care to transition medically. They might be asked to “prove” their gender identity sufficiently to providers and can experience invalidation or be denied procedures if they do not present themselves in a specific way.

If you are LGBTQ+, and you want to seek therapy services, you might choose an LGBTQ+ therapist because they can share some of your experience with minority stress and microaggressions. While no one but you fully understands your journey, you might feel more comfortable with someone who may better resonate with you in a way that a straight, cis-gendered therapist may be unable to do.

The most important part of therapy is the relationship between you and your therapist. A therapist who shares an aspect of your experience as a minoritized individual and who will not need to learn about your identity and background might be a good fit for you.

LGBTQ+ Therapists and LGBTQ+ Affirming Therapists

Depending on your personal comfort level and preferences, you might want a therapist who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, or you might feel comfortable seeing an LGBTQ+ affirming therapist.

An LGBTQ+ affirming therapist is a therapist who is an ally of the community, who is committed to providing competent care to LGBTQ+ individuals, being educated on current terminology and issues facing the community, and honoring clients’ identities. LGBTQ+ affirming therapists are not necessarily LGBTQ+ themselves.

An LGBTQ+ affirming therapist can take continuing education courses to remain up to date on language and identities. Many therapists indicate on their website or on their directory page that they are LGBTQ+ affirming.

It is OK to ask them what specific steps they have taken to educate themselves and what it means to them to call themselves “affirming.”

Some LGBTQ+ therapists indicate on their profiles that they are members of the LGBTQ+ community. If you feel safest seeing a fellow LGBTQ+ individual as your therapist, you can seek out someone who has chosen to share this information.

Where to Find an LGBTQ+ Therapist

Many therapist directories have options for therapists to indicate that they are LGBTQ+ affirming. However, if you are looking for a therapist who is also LGBTQ+, you can use some of these resources:

  • Therapy Den: Therapy Den is an online therapist directory that features profiles from therapists all over the United States. When searching for a therapist, you can filter by whether or not the therapist is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. You can also specify the therapist’s gender identity, including specifically requesting a transgender, nonbinary, or genderfluid therapist.
  • Therapy for QPOC: Standing for Therapy for Queer People of Color, this organization’s mission is “to connect Queer and Trans People of Color to affirming anti-oppressive mental health professionals.” You can specify your preferred gender identity from 15 options in their database.
  • Inclusive Therapists: Inclusive Therapists seeks to provide accessible and affirming care for marginalized identities, including those based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, neurodivergence, and disability. You can filter your search based on therapist specialization in these areas or the therapist’s personal identity.

Things to Keep in Mind

No one therapist will share every aspect of your identity, and even a therapist who has some things in common with you might have a different experience based on their background and unique life story.

While you are not responsible for educating your therapist about your identity, you will have to tell them your story and how various things apply to your life.

If you plan to use health insurance to pay for your therapy services, you will want to find a therapist who can take your insurance. The three directories listed above include a filter option based on your insurance provider.

Unfortunately, a therapist whose specialization, personality, and identity seem like a perfect match for your needs might not accept your insurance. Out-of-network providers can sometimes put together a superbill that you can submit to the insurance company for reimbursement, but this requires you to pay out of pocket for therapy services first, and this is not always an accessible option.

What If I Don't Have Insurance?

If you are uninsured, you can search for therapists who offer sliding scale or pro bono therapy services that you can afford. Prior to scheduling your appointment, reach out to the therapist to learn about what options might be available to you.

Many people are using online therapy (also known as telehealth) due to increased accessibility of care, the convenience of being seen from home, and the ability to see providers who are outside of the immediate geographic area.

Keep in mind that your therapist needs to be licensed to practice at your physical location at the time of service in order to be in compliance with federal laws.

Getting Started

Utilizing the search directories above, you can browse therapists licensed to practice in your geographic area whose specializations and personal identity match your needs and preferences.

Because therapeutic fit can be difficult to determine from a directory profile, you might need to talk to more than one therapist before you find someone with whom you click. This is OK and part of the process!

If you see a therapist and do not feel they are a good fit, they might be able to recommend someone who can better meet your needs.

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2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mongelli F, Perrone D, Balducci J, et al. Minority stress and mental health among LGBT populations: an update on the evidence. Minerva Psichiatr. 2019;60(1).

  2. Ramos N. Medical trauma in LGBTQIA youth: Adapting trauma-informed affirming clinical practicesPediatr Ann. 2021;50(9). doi: https://doi.org/10.3928/19382359-20210818-02