It can be challenging, for anyone, to find therapist who is a good fit. When a client is already struggling with their own personal demons, the process of researching therapists can feel overwhelming. If one is part of a sexual or gender minority group, the process can be much more difficult. Not all therapists are sensitive to the needs of clients who identify as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgender. Or, how about Intersex, Asexual, or Genderqueer? Sometimes, it can be challenging to find a therapist who knows the meaning of those terms.
Having to educate one’s therapist can be an added burden, which is the last thing a client needs.
Many of my Queer-identified clients come to me with a great deal of trauma. This can be trauma from early childhood. It could have resulted from being bullied, or feeling rejected by parents who were uncomfortable with gender-variant behavior (which can manifest early on). There are are also instances of traumas that occur later in life. Tragically, people who do not conform to norms, with regards to sexuality and gender, can be subject to violence and assault. My job, first and foremost, is to create safe space for my clients. Of course, this means holding a space of empathy and kindness…but that is not always enough. I also recognize the importance of being educated about issues facing clients who are part of under-served populations.
That is why I receive ongoing supervision and continuing education from professionals who are LGBT-affirmative. Does that mean I know everything? Of course not. I cannot promise that I, in the course of our work together, will not make a mistake. That said, I will promise my clients the following:
-I will not assume that your sexuality or gender identity is the “problem” that brought you in.
-I will do my best not to make assumptions about your sexual preferences or relationship style.
-I will ask what pronouns you prefer, and honor your wishes with no questions asked.
-I will not question how you identify yourself, or ask you to defend your identity.
-I will write your letter upon request (And no, you do not have to see me for months to get the letter)
-I will encourage you to know your rights, and will be your advocate for getting the healthcare you need.
-I will maintain an awareness of any privileges that I may have that some of my clients may not have. I will not shy away from conversations about those privileges. In fact, I will invite such conversations if I feel that they would serve my clients.
-I will take response-ability for my actions, as I support my clients to do the same.