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How to Select a Counselor

Selecting an Inclusive Counselor

From time to time, some lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and questioning individuals may avoid seeking help because of the myth that counselors will try to change their sexual orientation and/or gender identities (called “reparative” or “conversion” therapy). No evidence exists that counseling can change the sexual orientation of adults. Leading professional organizations for counselors view it as unethical and potentially psychologically damaging to the LGBTQIA+ community.

Selecting a counselor who is inclusive and supportive of LGBTQIA+ identities is an important first step in seeking help. Directly asking a counselor about their feelings and knowledge about lesbian, bisexual, gay, or transgender people, issues, and culture during the first meeting is probably the most expeditious way to determine “fit.” However, there are other ways to determine the sensitivity and awareness of a counselor.

For example, other LGBTQIA+ individuals who have been in counseling can suggest the name of a particular counselor. Another possibility is to ask for referrals from organized LGBTQIA+ resource centers in the area. It’s even possible at some counseling centers and agencies to call and ask specifically for a counselor who is sensitive to and has experience working with LGBTQIA+ people.

You may also want to take a look around the waiting area as well as the counselor’s office. Are there books or other literature on display that affirm a LGBTQIA+ self-identity? Does the language the counselor uses seem to be inclusive to LGBTQIA+ issues?