How To Find A Counsellor Who Understands Your Sexual & Gender Identity
Finding the right counselor for depression is tough no matter who you are--but if you're transgendered or non-binary, your relationship style is non-monogamous or otherwise unconventional, you're gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual or on the asexuality spectrum or you fall outside of the accepted 'norm' in other related ways, it can feel like an even more difficult task. Counsellors who aren't experienced in this area can misinterpret your identity as a symptom, or leave you needing to spend large amounts of your limited time together making explanations. So what can you do to find yourself a counsellor who already 'gets' these aspects of your life and identity?
Look for GLBT-specific groups and practices.
There are plenty of groups, practices and charities that specialise in GLBT-friendly counselling. Even if your primary concerns are surrounding an identity that isn't specifically GLBT-related (non-monogamy, for example, or involvement with the kink community), you're likely to find that these groups are on the whole more understanding and better educated on a whole range of topics relating to someone's sexual and romantic habits. Many of them primarily offer low-cost counselling on a sliding scale, but don't let that put you off; they have the same training as everyone else, and if you're able to pay more, you will be extremely grateful for the help!
Try a few assessments before committing to one person.
The initial assessment appointment with a new counsellor is generally free of charge, and it's not just there for your therapist to figure out who you are and what you need--it's also for you to decide whether or not you'll be able to work with them. Don't be afraid to attend more than one initial assessment before picking your counsellor; nobody will take it personally, and it's a great way to ensure your treatment works for you as well as possible.
Keep an eye out for a few key questions.
In those assessments, keep an eye out for any clear indicators that the person you're speaking to is going to 'get' what you're talking about. It's a fantastic sign, for example, if they ask you for your preferred pronouns even if you're a cisgendered person who has never been misgendered in your life--it shows that they're on the ball and that they understand the complexity of these issues.
It's also worth finding out if your potential therapist is engaged with the local community or involved in activism in your area. Communities of this kind tend to be quite small, which means that if they themselves share some identities with you, it's more than usually likely that you'll bump into each other socially. Best practice is to simply smile and say 'hello' and then move on, but it's a good idea to have a policy in place to deal with this and discuss it before it comes up.