Counseling for LGBTQ+ identified couples have emerged in contemporary times out of the need to cater to the unique challenges they face. From issues with visibility and familial acceptance to difficulties in family planning, LGBTQ+ couples face distinct inward and outward pressures that create strain in their relationships. A number of counselors today have chosen to specialize in LGBTQ+ couples’ therapy in order to provide therapy to LGBTQ+ couples in a safe space that affirms their needs. Here are three considerations to keep in mind when choosing a therapist for your LGBTQ+ relationship.
Familiarity With LGBTQ+ Issues
It is not enough for a counselor to advertise as gay-friendly; they should also be well-versed in the many LGBTQ+ specific issues that may arise during therapy sessions, especially those (such as family planning) that pertain specifically to LGBTQ+ identified couples.
Interview the Counselor
The best way to gauge a prospective counselor’s knowledge of queer couple topics is to ask the therapist directly what experience they have had working with LGBTQ+ identified couples. Some providers, especially those in the online therapy space, offer a complimentary trial period on the platform or a preliminary trial with a counselor; interviewing the counselor is a great way to take advantage of this. Inquire how many couples they have served, as well as well as the particular topics in which they have expertise and resources.
Many licensed therapists who openly advertise as LGBTQ+ friendly are plugged in to their local queer communities and can direct a couple to a wealth of community resources as they pertain to certain issues. For instance, a diligent and knowledgeable therapist can provide extra help to a couple in the midst of a lengthy adoption process. Your experience with a couples’ counselor should be as informative as it is healing.
Specialization in Couples’ Counseling
Therapists who specialize in relationship counseling are dedicated to their craft and have elected years of extra credentialing and training to give them the tools they need to help troubled couples. The ideal counselor has received training in a variety of methods that are known to be efficacious for the variety of couples they serve. To get the best experience from therapy, make sure to select a counselor who also has experience with a particular issue or set of issues you and your partner want to explore.
You and your partner should be comfortable with your chosen couples’ therapist. Many sensitive topics are going to be discussed, such as personal identity, sexuality, and coming out. Take into consideration what brings you both the most comfort in a counselor. Do you feel that you may relate best to an LGBTQ+ counselor since they have direct experience being queer identified? Whatever the determining factors may be, ensure that your counselor is an expert who can provide the affirming, judgment-free support you and your partner need. Listen to your instincts; your intuition can easily reveal whether you and your counselor are a proper fit. The success of your therapy sessions, after all, rests on how open and communicative you each are with your therapist.
The LGBTQ+ community has become strong and present in recent times, to the benefit of all queer-identified individuals. Calling one of the major national LGBTQ+ support hotlines when in a time of immediate need can provide you and your partner a starting point for affirming resources in your area. Many urban areas have LGBTQ+ centers and even LGBTQ+ counselor networks that are dedicated to connecting those requiring queer-specific mental health resources and beyond.
The emergence of online therapy sites has made it even easier for you and your partner to seek counseling from the comfort and privacy of home; with larger teletherapy networks offering daily, around the clock accessibility, all you need to get started is a stable internet connection.
Counseling for LGBTQ+ identified couples fulfills an important social, psychological, and functional need. A quality LGBTQ+ relationship therapist is an essential resource in dealing with traditional relationship issues, like conflict resolution and stress management, as well as more specific ones that directly relate to the LGBTQ+ experience. It is important to see couples’ therapy not as a last resort when you both are at wit’s end, but rather as a supplement to ensure the health of your relationship.