Queer affirming therapist

If it doesn't seem to fit anywhere else, this is probably the place for it.
Raffles
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Queer affirming therapist

Unread post by Raffles »

Hello!

I am beginning to research therapists in the areas I'll end up interviewing for a job. Something that is important to me is that the therapist is queer affirming. I'd like to be able to talk about some of my experiences as a queer person even if it isn't the focus of my sessions as well as explore what relationships mean to me given my asexuality and potential aromanticism.

I'm excited to start what will hopefully be a (long over due) healing experience. However, I've had some poor interactions with mental health care professionals in the past. Most recently was a person who said that they were LGBT friendly but only had "male" and "female" options on the intake form and didn't ask about pronouns. The only sort of affirming thing she did was tell me that "If I ever have a boyfriend or girlfriend, they would want you to be more in touch with your feelings."

Does anyone know of any "green" or "red" flags that might signal whether or not someone is truly accepting? I wish I could say that I'd be able to move on and try again right after a not affirming experience, but I really have very low trust in the mental health care field. I worry that a few more negative experiences might make me not want to try at all and prolong my mental health struggles.

As a side question, is Thriveworks legit? I've been researching affordable options for me, and their pricing seems too good to be true. Sorry, y'all, I'm super new at this.
Sam W
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Re: Queer affirming therapist

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi Raffles,

Oof, yeah, I've noticed that some therapists will use "LGBT friendly" to mean "I won't tell you you're going to hell" and not much else. But, there are definitely some great Queer affirming therapists out there for you to find!

One tip I have for looking for affirming therapists in an area is to look and see if there are any LGBT resource lists or a resource center in the area (if there isn't, sometimes the one in the nearest large city will have resources for the surrounding towns). Those places often compile lists or directories of queer friendly service providers, so they might be able to point you towards therapists.

When you're searching yourself, if the therapist's bio or work history is listed, you can check it for green flags (like working with queer resources or projects, or even just listing that they're queer or trans themselves, which some might do). I also think you're well within your rights to contact a potential therapist ahead of time and ask them what LGBT friendly practice means or looks like to them.

Looking at it, ThriveWorks seems about as legit as things like Pride Counseling or other online therapy platforms, so of they're a good option for you budget-wise, that's for sure something to explore.
Raffles
not a newbie
Posts: 111
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2020 10:23 am
Age: 22
Awesomeness Quotient: Quality puns
Primary language: English
Preferred pronouns: they/them/theirs
Sexual identity and orientation: asexual, panromantic, agender
Location: USA

Re: Queer affirming therapist

Unread post by Raffles »

Those are solid tips! I found one person who is on a list of affirming therapists, identifies as queer, and even studied women, gender, and sexuality studies. That feels like a relatively safe bet for me.

I've got a few follow-up questions (not related, so there's no pressure to respond because it really doesn't relate to the work that scarleteen does).

I've noticed that some therapists say that they are "trauma informed" and provide "trauma informed care." This might be a dumb question, but shouldn't all therapists be trauma informed? If not, what are the differences in care between a provide who is and isn't trauma informed?

Also, I've noticed something that is very difficult for me in first sessions (and why I haven't really ever been able to progress past a first session) is that you're often required to disclose major issues and trauma in a first appointment. I find that I'm generally unable to do this because I don't know the person and don't trust them and that sort of dynamic is really hard to me to function in. Is it reasonable to tell a therapist that there are simply things that you aren't ready to share yet and instead start with a smaller issue?
Sam W
scarleteen staff/volunteer
Posts: 8055
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:06 am
Age: 31
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Preferred pronouns: she/her
Sexual identity and orientation: queer
Location: Desert

Re: Queer affirming therapist

Unread post by Sam W »

That does sound like a promising lead!

That's a good question about trauma informed care! So, yes, in theory all therapy should come from a trauma informed approach. But for a long time, a lot of therapeutic practices on both an individual and institutional level didn't really structure themselves that way; not in the sense that they were trying to re-traumatize clients or that they ignored or disbelieved their trauma (though that certainly still happened), but more in that they didn't look at all the ways trauma could be re-triggered. For instance, a lot of therapy used to be very one directional; the therapist is the expert, they tell the client what to do, and might even penalize them in some way for being "non-compliant." A trauma informed approach acknowledges that clients who have survived trauma need to have power in the interaction and be treated as the experts on their lives. I think this offers a good break down of what the term is meant to cover: http://socialwork.buffalo.edu/social-re ... -care.html.

I will say that trauma informed is also considered a standard of care now, bordering on a buzzword, so a lot of providers use it to signal "I am up to date on best practices."

As for your second question, that is absolutely a reasonable thing to tell a therapist. In fact, it can be really helpful information for them to have, because they know that a) you have some bigger stuff you'd like to discuss down the line and b) what you're comfortable bringing up as you build a therapeutic relationship with them. I also think it serves as a good "test" of that therapist; if they react poorly to you setting a needed boundary, that's a sign they're not a good fit.
Raffles
not a newbie
Posts: 111
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2020 10:23 am
Age: 22
Awesomeness Quotient: Quality puns
Primary language: English
Preferred pronouns: they/them/theirs
Sexual identity and orientation: asexual, panromantic, agender
Location: USA

Re: Queer affirming therapist

Unread post by Raffles »

Thanks for the resources! It explained a lot, and the recent article with Kimberly Dark had a lot of things that I needed to hear/read.

I've got a few more questions now that I'm thinking through more specifics and doing my research.

The first is related to something already mentioned. I've noticed that intake forms often have really personal questions, so of which I'm just not willing to answer the first time I meet someone. However, will this result in a refusal of treatment? Like will a therapist refuse to take me on as a patient because I won't answer some of the questions? For example, my family, gender, and coping strategies aren't something I think I could share right off the bat. In the past, I've sort of just lied about my answers, but they were short term situations and I don't want to do that if there's a possibility that I will work with a therapist for a longer duration of time.

Related to that, I've struggled with the concept of an emergency contact. When I start, it will probably be after I get a job, and that will likely be in a new place where I don't know anyone. Even if it were close to where I live currently/have lived previously, there really isn't anyone that I'd feel comfortable asking to be my emergency contact for a mental health crisis. Does anyone have any suggestions about how to handle that? I don't want that to be a barrier to treatment either.
Sam W
scarleteen staff/volunteer
Posts: 8055
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:06 am
Age: 31
Awesomeness Quotient: I raise carnivorous plants
Primary language: english
Preferred pronouns: she/her
Sexual identity and orientation: queer
Location: Desert

Re: Queer affirming therapist

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi Raffles,

I'm glad my answers and Kimberly's interview were helpful!

With the intake forms, it should be fine to answer with some variation of "this is a loaded topic for me and I need time to be able to talk about it." That shouldn't disqualify you from treatment, and honestly it's still gives the therapist the information they're looking for, which is that there are issues attached to those topics that are tied, in some way, to why you're seeking support.

I might bring up the emergency contact thing with the therapist when you start seeing them (you could just list "none" on the form). It shouldn't be a barrier to treatment, since most therapists are aware that not everyone will have the social circle or family where they're safe and able to assign someone that role. But the two of you can also brainstorm if there's an option that fits what they need that information for that you're comfortable having listed.
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