The history of LGBTQ+ treatment in the therapy field is still very much shadowed by the fact that, until recently, individuals within the LGBTQ+ community were labeled as having a mental health disorder and were often referred for conversion therapy (sometimes they still are). It’s a shameful, and all too recent, past that we’re all working to overcome in our therapy practices. As you get ready to open the doors of your new practice, I hope you’ve considered how you’re going to work to offer effective therapy services for members of marginalized and minority groups, including people in the LGBTQ+ community. In this blog, we’ll review some recommendations for preparing to provide appropriate, affirming therapy services for the LGBTQ+ community.
Prioritize Continuing Education Specific to Sexual & Gender Identity
It’s essential that therapists prioritize cultural competence in their continuing education courses. You have the option to choose just about any topic to devote your annual continuing education hours to, so why not make time for increasing your cultural competence to better support the LGBTQ+ community? Don’t forget that, even if you feel like you accept and affirm LGBTQ+ folks or identify as a member of the queer community yourself, that doesn’t mean you have the right sets of knowledge and skill to provide appropriate therapy for this community. Even if you’re competent in offering therapy for individuals who identify as gay and lesbian, you may not be ready to work with individuals who identify as transgender or nonbinary. Continuing education courses help you to develop your therapy muscles to offer culturally competent therapy for all LGBTQ+ folks.
Be Prepared to Help Clients Explore Their Queer Experiences – Or Not
For many LGBTQ+ folks, therapy is where they turn for help exploring and developing greater understanding of their sexual and gender identities, so it’s important to be ready to support clients who come to you for help understanding their queer experiences more fully. However, if clients don’t want to talk about their sexual or gender identity, that’s okay too.
Work on Yourself
If you don’t identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community (or even if you do), it may be beneficial to make time in your own therapy sessions to talk about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences related to sexual and gender identity by answering questions like:
I’m Christina Runnels, a licensed professional counselor-supervisor who owns and manages a large, group therapy practice based in Houston. At Private Practice DIY, I share my years of knowledge and experience in the field with my fellow therapists to help them build better practices. I offer a range of private practice coaching and mentorship packages. The consultation service is a great option if you’re trying to work through how to prioritize culturally competent continuing education courses, make time for your own therapy, and best support clients within marginalized communities. Get in touch if you’re interested in scheduling a consultation session.