If you are an LGBT identifying individual interested in starting therapy in Jacksonville or another city in Florida, you are in the right place. Philosophie Therapy is proud to provide friendly therapy for the LGBT individuals and couples. Deciding to start therapy can be a difficult and intimidating decision. In addition to the stigma surrounding mental health, LGBTQ+ individuals face an additional layer of stigma as they work to find an LGBTQ+ friendly therapist.
This article serves to eliminate some of the guess work and make it easy for you and/or your loved one to find LGBTQ+ friendly therapy near you. Keep reading to learn:
What is LGBT therapy?
LGBT therapy is therapy for LGBTQ+ identifying individuals and couples. LGBT therapy does not assume that one’s mental health concerns are the result of their gender identity or sexual orientation. This form of therapy works to understand the unique life stories of the clients it serves, while also having a working understanding of the challenges that the LGBTQ+ community faces.
LGBT therapy focuses on understanding the life circumstances, attitudes, and personal goals of each client in order to design a treatment plan that works to help an individual meet their goals. As LGBTQ+ individuals work to better their mental health and meet their personal goals, they are often met with challenges that are distinctly different from those of heterosexual and cisgender people. LGBTQ+ individuals exist in a heteronormative society that upholds a binary understanding of gender. LGBT therapy acknowledges the existence of these flaws within society, without making assumptions about the life experiences of the clients they serve.
Your identity is unique to you, regardless of what label you do or do not use. LGBT therapy provides the opportunity for you to share who you are, what you have gone through, and where you wish to go from here, without having to fight against heteronormative or homophobic values.
How to Find an LGBT Therapist
It might seem challenging to find an LGBT therapist, however, there are many ways to find an LGBT therapist near you. When looking for an LGBT therapist, ask yourself the following questions:
What do I want to work on in therapy?
Consider what is bothering you in the present moment, as well as what you wish to change. With this in mind, look for therapists that seem to enjoy working with clients that have similar struggles and goals. For example, a transgender individual hoping to develop confidence surrounding gender expression will likely have a different set of criteria than a gay couple hoping to start marriage counseling for infidelity.
Do I want an LGBT friendly therapist, or is it important for me to have a therapist that identifies within the LGBT community?
There are many therapists that offer LGBT friendly therapy, however, there are also therapists that identify within the LGBT community and advertise themselves as such. Although it should never be assumed that a therapist must identify within a particular population, in order to serve them, it is important for potential clients to determine they type of therapist they are willing to see.
Do I need someone who is in network with my insurance company?
Many therapists are out-of-network with insurance providers, meaning they do not bill directly to your insurance company. If you know that you need to be able have sessions covered by your insurance provider, you can research the billing policies of the therapist you wish to meet with. You can learn more about Philosophie Therapy’s fees and billing policies here.
When looking for a therapist for yourself or your loved one, spend time reading the biographies of the therapists you are researching and see if they offer a free consultation to determine if they are a good fit for you. No therapist is equipped to be the perfect therapist for every client, therefore, not every therapist you find will be a perfect match for you. If you are interested in learning more about our services, feel free to contact us or book a free phone consultation today.
What do I talk about in LGBT Therapy?
LGBT therapy is virtually identical to standard talk therapy, with the addition of the therapist’s knowledge and awareness of the LGBTQ+ community and the stigma they face. With that being said, at Philosophie Therapy, your therapist will work with you to gain an understanding of the following:
Your Present Moment Experience
In order to gain a holistic understanding of your mental health goals, your therapist will work to understand what you are experiencing in the present. Maybe you feel anxious, lonely, depressed, or are experiencing a lack of self-confidence. Explaining these things to your therapist, during LGBT therapy will provide each of you with insight into what is wrong in the present, so that you can progress into what you hope to accomplish in the future.
You should never feel scared to explain the extent to which you are struggling. If therapists lack an understanding of what you are going through, they will struggle to create effective and sustainable solutions for how to eliminate your symptoms. Be honest with your therapist in disclosing what you are experiencing in the present so that can both create a pathway for what you hope to experience (or not experience) in the future.
You should also never feel judged by your therapist in LGBT therapy. Your therapist seeks to be as unbiased as possible, while listening intently to your life story. If you are worried that you will be judged by your therapist, feel free to express this concern to them. You will likely find that the process of discussing the fear of being judged eases the fear itself. Challenge yourself to be transparent about your mental health struggles in therapy. You will find that you are able to progress much faster and with much more ease than if you were to keep certain elements of your mental health hidden.
Your Past Experiences
You should be proud of all that you have overcome and your therapist should be too. Although you are not defined by your past, it is important to understand and validate the pain from the past, with the goal of healing and future growth. During LGBT therapy, your therapist will work to understand how you have been impacted by your past, in order to understand how your perspective has been shaped by your experiences. Most people are shocked to find out the extent to which what they have faced in the past has influenced the decisions they have made thus far, as well as what they are hoping to accomplish in the future.
As you release that which is no longer serving you, you will make room for things that will.
Talking about your past experiences allows you and your therapist to gain a holistic understanding of your life story. Discussing your past experiences in counseling provides you and your therapist with talking points that lead to a deeper understanding of who you are and what you hope to accomplish.
What You Hope to Accomplish in the Future
Of course, in order for you to make improvements in your mental health, you will need to determine what you hope to accomplish within and outside of therapy. At Philosophie Therapy, we work to ask you questions that will help guide you towards an understanding of what you would like to accomplish in LGBT therapy. There is no right or wrong way to talk about your hopes for the future. Your therapist will work with you to release self-critical thoughts that are serving as barriers to you accomplishing your goals.
Myths about LGBT Therapy
I will be defined by my sexuality and/or my gender identity.
LGBT therapy does not define you by your sexuality or gender identify. LGBT therapy provides clients with the opportunity to process their life experience without having to explain what it means to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community or how heteronormativity impacts one’s life experience. No singular identity or experience should define who you are. LGBT therapy encourages clients to explore their life experience and future goals, without having to justify elements of their lives that they should be proud of.
I have to work with a therapist who is gay/lesbian/bi/trans.
You do not have to work with a therapist that identifies within the LGBTQ+ community on order to find effective LGBT friendly therapy. Each therapist has an entirely unique set of life experiences and personal identities. It would be impossible for a therapist to carry the same identities of the each client they worked with. With that being said, if you know that you will only be comfortable seeing a therapist of a particular identity, it is possible to find a therapist who shares this identity. Many therapists openly advertise their sexual orientation and/or gender identity online. Feel free to do your research and find a therapist that you believe you will feel comfortable speaking with.
There is no therapist who will understand my experience.
Believing that no one will understand your experience is extremely harmful to one’s mental health. It is true that some people will not put in the time and energy that is needed to understand your experience. It is important to acknowledge that this is incredibly painful and can lead to feeling isolated and experiencing low self-esteem. LGBT therapy provides individuals with a virtually unbiased individual that seeks to understand your unique life experience. Your therapist’s job is to learn about you, apart from the assumptions of others and develop goals that will improve your mental health.
I have to give up my religion order to start LGBT therapy.
This could not be further from the truth. You do not need to give up your religious beliefs in order to participate in LGBT friendly therapy. If you value your religion, you do not need to dismiss it. Unfortunately, we live in a world in which there are religious institutions that oppress minority populations, including the LGBTQ+ community. If you are struggling to find self-acceptance and/or acceptance from your loved ones because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, you are not alone. If you are experiencing a fear of rejection and isolation based on how your religious values interfere with your sexual orientation, you may be a survivor of religious trauma.
You can learn more about therapy for religious trauma here.
Despite how polarizing religion and sexuality may seem, it is possible to love who you love and/or express your gender identity, without having to leave behind your religious values (unless, of course, you no longer hold these values). Starting LGBT therapy allows you to sift through the layered values that come alongside religion and sexuality and make sense of them in a manner that supports you, while also honoring the religious and/or spiritual values you wish to uphold.
Get Started with LGBT Therapy Today
If you or someone you know is interested in beginning LGBT friendly therapy, you can get started today by contacting us or scheduling a free consultation or first session with a licensed therapist. At Philosophie Therapy, we understand that starting therapy can be an intimidating process. We work to ensure we answer any and all questions you may have about the process of therapy, pricing, or finding a therapist who is a good fit for you.
Feel free to review our frequently asked questions, meet the therapist, or review our pricing. We look forward to speaking with you soon!
Written by Hannah Mayderry, Licensed Mental Health Counselor