It’s 2019, and everyone and their mama is finally going to therapy and healing their trauma. It’s about damn time! But couples therapy continues to be an underutilized resource. Relationship and marriage expert Dr. John Gottman says here that couples remain unhappy for an average of six years before seeking help, which is, um, a long time to be unhappy.
That long wait time is likely because couples therapy still has a strong stigma attached to it. Many people think their problems have to be truly ~extreme~ to qualify for therapy. Plus, it’s scary to open up your private world to a stranger. But couples therapy doesn’t need to be your last resort! In fact, it’s much more effective if you go before you feel like your head is going to explode if you argue with your partner one more time. Couples therapy is a great way for couples to work through conflicts of any kind and maintain their connection to one another. As long as both partners are invested in the process, a skilled couples therapist can help you communicate more effectively, feel more empathy towards each other, and make sure you’re both on the same team.
Queer-friendly couples therapists are much more likely to be on the same page as you and your bae. You won’t have to explain basic stuff to them, like how your sex life works. And you won’t have to worry that they’re quietly judging you for your sexuality. The therapist-patient relationship is all about comfort, and it’s hard to be fully comfortable with a therapist who doesn’t understand or accept your identity.
Lesbians love us some processing, so maybe you don’t need a lot of prompting to be convinced of the virtues of couples therapy. But once you’ve made the decision to go, you still need to find the right queer-friendly therapist. It has to be someone who both you and your significant other click with. And someone who takes your insurance, and who’s accepting new clients, and…
Okay, don’t get overwhelmed! Baby steps! I’m here to help you make a list of queer-friendly couples in your area.
Start with Psychology Today
Psychology Today’s Find a Therapist page features national listings for psychologists, social workers, and other counselors who can provide couples therapy. The search tool allows you to filter for therapists who specialize in lesbian, gay, or bisexual issues. It also allows you to filter for therapists who actually identify as gay, lesbian, or bi, if that’s what you prefer. You can also use the tool to narrow your search to therapists who take your insurance and/or provide a sliding scale fee.
Not every therapist is listed in the directory, but a quick search will likely yield dozens to hundreds of options in your area. It’s a great place to start your list!
Check LGBTQ-specific directories
There are a few online directories specifically for LGBTQ medical providers and counselors. The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association’s Provider Directory lists health professionals nationwide who identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Similarly, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) lists providers who specialize in working with trans people.
Lastly, some states feature state-specific directories of queer-friendly therapists. There’s the LGBTQ-Affirmative Psychotherapist Guild of Utah, for example, and the LGBTQ Therapists Network of Minnesota. It’s worth a quick Google to see if your state has one.
Use your community as a resource
Never doubt the power of word of mouth! Facebook groups for queer people in your city are a great resource for searches like this. Chances are that someone has already asked for queer-friendly therapist recommendations, so search within the group and go from there. Alternatively, you could make a public post and ask everyone you know for a couples therapist recommendation, because f*ck it!
There may also be crowd-sourced online resources for LGBTQ-friendly providers in your city. In New Orleans, where I live, we have a Tumblr dedicated to LGBTQ resources in the area, which features inclusive therapists (along with everything from dog walkers to wedding officiants). Maybe you have something like that near you, too.
You don’t have to limit your search to the internet, either. Your local LGBTQ center is a wonderful resource. Ask them if they have any referrals for couples therapists.
Consider online counseling
Finding a therapist who ticks every single one of your boxes can be really tricky, but it gets much easier if you don’t limit yourself to one geographical area. In this day and age, online therapy is increasingly common, and a surprising number of providers offer it to their clients. Bonus: You and your partner can sit on your own comfy couch while you engage in couples therapy.
You can use Psychology Today’s Find a Therapist tool to search for queer-friendly therapists who offer online sessions.
Interview your potential new therapist
Finding a great therapist is a little bit like dating – you won’t click with every single person you meet, but asking the right questions early on will give you a better idea of whether it’s a good fit. Don’t be afraid to give your new therapist the ol’ once-over. If you’re not sure whether they’re queer-friendly or not, ask them whether they have any gay or lesbian patients. Be as upfront with the provider as you feel comfortable, and go with your gut instinct. It’s 100% okay to try several different therapists before you settle on one that you love.
Now go forth and have healthier relationships, lesbians!