Minding Your Health - Tips and Resources to Help You Find the Right Therapist

For most people, it takes a lot of courage to consider talking to a professional about private concerns and innermost fears. Worrying about whether a professional will accept your sexual orientation, much less understand your particular needs, adds another layer of complexity to this already daunting prospect. However, do not let your fears get in the way of seeking help and experiencing relief!
Word of mouth can be one of the best ways to locate a competent and welcoming therapist. When people considering therapy have the courage to inquire, they are often surprised to find that a number of their friends or family members have sought out therapy at some point in their lives.
However, sometimes we are hesitant to alert loved ones to the fact that we are seeking mental health services. Fortunately, many of the more reputable online therapist finders like GoodTherapy (Good Therapy), Psychology Today (Pyschology Today) and NetworkTherapy (Network Therapy) allow therapists to identify themselves as LGBT-friendly or willing to address LGBT concerns.
Our Kansas City community is privileged to have an excellent resource available to providers and potential clients. The LGBT-Affirmative Therapists Guild (Health Care Guild) of Greater Kansas City is a community-based, grassroots organization of licensed mental and medical health-care professionals, as well as students-in-training, who share a collaborative commitment to make affirming culturally competent health care available for all sexual and gender minorities based on the premise that LGBT and heterosexual identities are equally valid.
Our website has a list of local resources, a psychotherapist finder and a medical professional finder.
Diversity is an increasingly important area of training in many of the programs that educate mental health professionals. Just because providers don’t advertise that they are familiar with LGBT concerns does not necessarily mean they are not competent to treat you. Perhaps the best advice is to call and ask to speak to the providers directly so you can interview them briefly about their experience and approach.
Some therapists are not comfortable with disclosing their own sexual orientation or other private information about themselves, like age, religion, or racial background, with their clients. This often has to do with their professional training or the type of therapy they offer. If having a therapist who identifies as LGBT is important to you, don’t hesitate to ask as an increasing number of professionals are willing to be open about this. But be prepared that some may decline to answer, and you will probably be crossing these therapists off your list.
A psychotherapist that you feel comfortable with can provide you with support and guidance. The services of a mental health professional may help you find relief in your unique situation and enhance your life.
textTracy Ochester, PsyD, and Martha Childers, EdS, LPC, are members of the LGBT-Affirmative Therapists Guild and are both sole practitioners. Ochester’s office is in Leawood, and Childers’ is in the Country Club Plaza. Visit their websites at MindFulKC and Childers Counseling Service."

Photo courtesy of Jose Cuervo

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