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What is LGBTQIA+ affirmative therapy?

How is it different from other types of therapeutic approaches?

Quick statistic for you: according to new research from the Trevor Project, “46 percent of LGBTQIA+ teens (ages 13–17) seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, versus 22 percent of all teens.” (Trevor Project, 2023). The evidence is damning, as this indicates that mental health concerns among LGBTQIA+ community members are higher than for the cisgender, heterosexual (cis-het) folks. For members of the queer community seeking mental health care, it can be confusing to know where to look, what to look for, and maybe most importantly, what NOT to look for (I’m talking to you, covert conversion therapists).

When searching for “LGBTQIA+ therapy near me”, you might find therapists marketing themselves in a few different ways, using labels such as the “LGBTQIA+-friendly therapist” or the “LGBTQIA+ reparative therapist”, etc. These are completely different than a queer affirming therapist.

Let me explain... 

A therapist marketing as “queer-friendly” will typically mean they are simply tolerant of LGBTQIA+ identities. It doesn’t come with the additional assumption that they are highly trained and competent in this area of work. If that’s your vibe, go for it! Being LGBTQIA+ and in therapy doesn’t mean your work in therapy is necessarily about your queerness. They’re probably competently trained in whatever else you’re looking for.

The “LGBTQIA+ reparative therapist”, on the other hand, is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If you’re thinking to yourself “I’ve never heard of this”, you actually have. It’s conversion therapy, rebranded. Because conversion therapy has been so publicly denounced, a disguise in marketing was due. Not only does conversion therapy not “work” inasmuch as changing someone’s sexual or gender identity, it is also incredibly harmful and dangerous. Deadly, you could even say. A study at UCLA found that LGBTQIA+ members who’ve undergone conversion therapy were “twice as likely to attempt suicide” (Sexual Orientation Change Efforts, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and Suicide Ideation and Attempt Among Sexual Minority Adults, United States, 2016–2018). Read more here

So, what is the reliable and and non-traumatizing option for queer folks to find care? You guessed it. The “LGBTQIA+ affirmative” therapist has undergone significant training in this area and has demonstrated a high level of competency. For anyone looking to learn more about their gender identity, sexual identity, or affectional orientation, as well as navigating self-acceptance, the “coming out” process, or countless other topics, affirmative therapy is your most qualified option for care. Instead of “tolerating” a queer identity, we celebrate it. We honor it and nurture it. And don’t be misled, therapy with an affirming therapist doesn’t have to be about your gender/sexual identity. Like at all. Whatever you bring to the mix, we accept with open arms. Just know that that also includes who you are.

We can’t wait to know you. Click here to set up a free 15 minute consultation to start therapy today. Or reach out here if you need to learn more about therapy options.



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