LGBTQIA, gender, and sexuality topics

LGBTQIA is an acronym describing a diverse range of sexual orientations and gender identities. The letters stand for:

Identifying as LGBTQIA is often a source of strength. However, it’s also common to experience challenges relating to LGBTQIA issues or concerns that can affect anyone.

Growing awareness has led to greater availability of specialized services - including therapy - for people who identify as LGBTQIA, to help address the unique challenges this population faces. If you are experiencing mental health challenges, seeing a therapist specializing in LGBTQIA competent care can help.

Types of LGBTQIA, gender and sexuality issues

Some common challenges that individuals who identify as LGBTQIA may experience include:

LGBTQIA and mental health

Like anyone, people who identify as LGBTQIA can experience mental health challenges at times, which may be unrelated to LGBTQIA issues. However, the difficulties described above presents a set of unique challenges. This has been linked to increased risk of mental health problems, such as:

Gender dysphoria is a diagnostic term. It acknowledges the psychological distress a person can feel if their sex or gender identity conflicts with their birth-assigned sex.

A matter of ongoing controversy is whether gender identity and gender dysphoria issues should continue to be considered as mental health disorders in the ICD 10 and DSM 5 (the guidelines used by health professionals to classify mental health disorders).

Prevalence of mental health concerns in the LGBTQIA community

People who identify as LGBTQIA may have an increased risk of mental health challenges. For instance:

LGBTQIA people may be more likely to have difficulties with substance use:

Treatments options for LGBTQIA issues

People who identify as LGBTQIA can feel reluctant to seek help for concern of being discriminated against. This can be isolating and can compound any difficulties you may be experiencing. It’s important to reach out and seek help early.

Increasing awareness of LGBTQIA issues means that more specialized services are now available. Consider a combination of the following options:

Helplines

Therapy

Talk therapies in both individual or group settings can help you work through mental health concerns or LGBTQIA related issues. Family or couples therapy can be helpful, particularly with concerns about coming out, or for help with relationships. Therapy types to consider are discussed in more detail below.

Support groups and resource centers

Many LGBTQIA organizations and groups offer social and practical support. Some are available online and most cities will have local groups. For example:

Therapy for LGBTQIA issues

Most therapy types can be applied to LGBTQIA, gender and sexuality related challenges. Common therapy types include:

It’s important to consider different therapy types and how they resonate with you before choosing. If you’re unsure, your prospective therapist is a great person to seek advice from.

While therapy type is important, you should also look for a therapist who is culturally competent in working with the LGBTQIA community. More on this, below.

What to look for in a therapist for LGBTQIA issues

The best-fitting therapist for you will depend on individual factors, symptoms, your location and finances. There are several points to consider when you are searching:

Qualifications

With so many different provider types available, it can be difficult to decide which type of therapist to see. The most important thing is to look for a currently licensed mental health professional.

Type of therapist

Any type of mental health professionals may specialize in LGBTQIA issues. Some provider types to consider include:

Specialized training

Regardless of which type of provider you choose, make sure the therapist is committed to ongoing training in LGBTQIA related issues and has prior experience working in the area. You could, for example, look for a therapist who is a member of the American Society of Sex Education, Counselors, and Therapists. All members have completed at least one LGBTQIA specialized training course.

Relationship

Addressing LGBTQIA issues can be challenging, so it’s important to work with someone you feel comfortable with. The trusting relationship with a therapist is called the therapeutic alliance, and it’s the number one indicator of treatment efficacy.

Many therapists also identify as LGBTQIA themselves, or have a particular interest in LGBTQIA related issues and are familiar with the kind of challenges facing the community. They will often include this information on their website or online profile.

The best way to judge how you might feel about a therapist is to ask for a preliminary phone call. This also enables you to ask about their experience and what therapy with them will be like. Try to speak to a few different therapists before deciding on a provider.

Find LGBTQIA therapists

Find therapists who specialize in LGBTQIA issues on Zencare. Search by insurance, fees, and location; watch therapist introductory videos; and book free initial calls to find the right therapist for you!

Sources and references