Finding a counselor that is comfortable and experienced with working on gay-related issues might make you take pause when seeking help. However – it shouldn’t! You CAN find a counselor who has experience working with people in the LGTB community, both as individuals and in couples counseling. If you’re starting from scratch, here are some ways to find a gay friendly counselor.
Use Community Resources
Look to your local LGBT community centers for referrals. Many centers will have a list of local counselors who are gay friendly, and can put you in touch. In San Diego, some resources include the North County LGTBQ Resource Center and The Center. LGBT centers may also have support groups on site, where you can meet other people in the community, and use this network to find out about gay friendly counselors near you.
Many counselors have websites that are prime for snooping around on! Look for a section on LGBT issues and clients. Keep in mind that not all counselors will have a part of their website that explicitly says they are gay friendly, so don’t assume that someone won’t be receptive to gay issues just because they don’t advertise it. If you don’t see anything on a counselor’s site that mentions gay issues, you can also look on sites like Yelp to see what other clients have to say, or check out the counselor’s Facebook page.
Look at Training and Experience
Check out the training of a counselor, which will include formal education, and can also include specialized training or mention of experience with LGBT issues. The training of a counselor will give you an idea of the school of thought that he or she uses – not all schools of thought and therapy methods are the same. Look for a counselor that uses a therapy method that is inclusive and makes sense to you.
Check Their Motives
If a counselor says he or she is happy to work with gay clients, make sure the goal is not to “cure” you or change your sexuality. You want to work with someone who will make you the best you can be, but only wants to strengthen your self-esteem and worth, not try to change your sexuality or make you something you’re not.
Call and Ask
If you can’t find out what you need on the Web, don’t be afraid to call and ask if the counselor has experience working with gay clients. Remember, just because someone doesn’t advertise that she works with the LGBT community doesn’t mean that she won’t. Pick up the phone and find out before you assume that someone won’t be receptive to working with you.
Finding a counselor is a major step in becoming a better and stronger you. If you are in need of a gay friendly counselor in San Diego, give me a call or book online and let’s see if I can help!
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653