I work with people who identify in myriad ways. I work with a great deal of straight and cisgender (believing your gender identity is in alignment with your birth sex) in my practice. That being said, I think it is important to know that I have experience working with the LGBT community for those who identify within the LGBT community. This is worth noting because of the number of patients I have seen whose sexual orientation was somehow connected to a reason the person was seeking therapy, as well as the fact that I’ve worked with many people who shared that their sexual orientation or gender identity was overlooked and not paid attention to, resulting in a patient feeling that their therapist couldn’t include or handle the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity in their therapeutic treatment. There are elements of identity that intersect with other mental health concerns, like depression, anxiety and trauma, that require a seasoned professional to be able to help you through the unique and distinct issues that affect the LGBTQ+ population. You need to know that your experience will be understood and held with respect and dignity as you confront those areas of your life that have caused you to seek out therapy. Sometimes the intersection between one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity with their therapeutic concerns is very clear and explicit and other times it remains latent or dormant until a specific situation or circumstance brings it to the forefront.
It is important that whenever your identity becomes a part of treatment that you are working with a therapist who has experience working in this capacity. There are aspects of the LGBTQ+ experience that are distinct and unique to this population and you want a therapist where working through these specific issues isn’t novel or something new that he or she is confronting for the first time. Our identities make up a significant portion of how we view ourselves, how we see ourselves in relation to others, and ways that we interpret our being in response to social norms. I worked for three years at the LGBT Center in NYC. I also worked as a therapist for five years and as the Assistant Director for three years of a clinic in Chelsea with a high clientele of LGBTQ+ identified individuals (as well as heterosexual identified individuals). It is important that you don’t feel that you have to educate your therapist as to why you are seeking therapy as an LGBTQ+ identified individual. It is important that you feel that your experience will be well received and understood and you don’t have to bide your time and bite your tongue as your therapist struggles to demonstrate competency in working with identity, orientation and community aspects relevant to your experience. You should feel the same sort of inclusivity as my straight and cisgender patients.
I have extensive experience working with gay men, lesbians, trans folks, and gender non conforming individuals, in addition to cisgender and heterosexual identified men and women. I foster open dialogue and encourage you to ask questions related to your identity, and how I work with however you identify, so you don’t feel that it is something that is left in the dark. We want to shine a light on your experience and make sure that you feel as understood as possible and that shining light is illuminating your unique experience rather than it being something that is overlooked. I will take your lead in how much you would like your therapy to include aspects of your identity, but I will gently and professionally make sure that these issues are at least brought to the surface so there isn’t any guessing on your part as to whether or not I can manage and handle how you identify, should it be important to you. As an LGBTQ+ affirming therapist, it is important to me that you feel you have space to process all aspects of your identity in your own time, as it becomes relevant or pertinent to treatment. I will often request feedback to check in to see how you feel your unique and personal experience is being handled by me so we have an ongoing, open dialogue. Communication; effective, direct and open, is an essential part of the therapeutic process. You and your experience – all of your experience – is important to me in how we conceptualize your therapy.