Reaching out for help is one of the bravest things a person can do when they're struggling. There's no shame in needing assistance to sort through your thoughts and feelings. However, some people may feel uncomfortable sharing their struggles with a counselor, especially if they feel like their counselor doesn't understand. That's why LGBTQ support therapy can be invaluable for people who identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. These four steps can ensure that you get the help you need as a member of the LGBTQ community seeking counseling:
1. Fill out a profile.
When you first seek LGBTQ support counseling, you may be asked to fill out a profile. This profile will ask basic questions about your age, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexuality. You can choose to decline to answer any question that you're not comfortable with. However, providing a complete and accurate profile can help your care provider match you with a counselor who is right for you.
2. Speak to a counselor to find out if you're a good match.
Many counselors are willing to speak with prospective patients on the phone before booking an initial session. This phone call can give you the opportunity to ask questions that are relevant to your care. For example, if it's very important to you that your counselor shares the same sexual identity that you have, you can ascertain this over the phone. A phone interview can save time for both you and your prospective therapist.
3. Get to know your counselor and become comfortable with them.
Therapy is a process that seldom provides immediate solutions. Therapy is most effective when people are able to be open and honest with their counselors. However, many LGBTQ people are understandably wary about opening up to a new therapist for the first time. Your counselor will do everything possible to make you feel comfortable. Your first few sessions with an LGBTQ counselor will likely be geared toward getting to know one another. Through these sessions, your counselor will gain insight into your problems and personality, and you can come to trust them as a mental health care provider.
4. Reach out for additional assistance when you need it.
Most people see their counselors on a schedule, choosing weekly, biweekly, or even monthly appointments. However, there may be times in your life when you experience unexpected turmoil, such as being confronted by homophobic family members. In these cases, you can reach out to your counselor to schedule an emergency appointment.