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Online therapy has many benefits for members of the LGBTQ+ community. If you live in a rural area or just can’t find a therapist who understands the challenges facing LGBTQ+ individuals, online therapy makes it easier to access mental health care. Online therapy also allows you to engage in therapy on your terms. Maybe you don’t want to drive to an office and talk with a therapist face-to-face; with online therapy, you don’t have to. You can engage in therapy sessions via video or text, ensuring you’re as comfortable as possible.
Online therapy is also helpful if you have any physical disabilities that prevent you from climbing stairs or entering buildings without ramps. Instead of having to navigate narrow hallways or climb steps to reach a therapist’s office, you’ll be able to connect with a therapist from the comfort of your own home. As demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, online therapy is especially helpful for ensuring consistency even if you have a contagious illness. If you develop symptoms of a cold or some other type of illness, you can still keep your online therapy appointment as long as you feel well enough to talk to your therapist.
The following guide provides an overview of how therapy supports members of the LGBTQ+ community and links to resources that can be helpful for navigating the coming-out process, strengthening your relationships, and learning how to be true to yourself as an LGBTQ+ individual.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community have an increased risk of anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions due to some of the challenges associated with coming out, exploring gender identity, and navigating relationships. LGBTQ+ individuals also have higher rates of homelessness and substance use than non-LGBTQ+ individuals.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults are twice as likely as non-LGB adults to develop a mental health condition. Transgender adults are four times more likely than cisgender adults to experience anxiety, depression, or another mental health disorder. The statistics are even more concerning for LGB and transgender youth.
LGB youth are more than two times as likely to report persistent feelings of hopelessness or sadness as their heterosexual peers. Transgender youth are also twice as likely as cisgender youth to seriously consider suicide, attempt suicide, and experience depressive symptoms.
Per the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 40% of transgender individuals have attempted suicide at least once in their lifetimes, which is nine times the overall attempted suicide rate of 5% in the U.S. general population The high rate of attempted suicide among transgendered individuals has been attributed to pervasive mistreatment, economic hardships, and violence.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community have some unique challenges that contribute to the increased risk of developing a mental health condition. Although society is moving in a positive direction when it comes to LGBTQ+ acceptance, coming out can still affect your relationships with family members and friends. Not everyone is as accepting as they could be, which can lead to feelings of rejection or even psychological trauma due to bullying, homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia. Substance use and homelessness are some of the most serious challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals. When some people are subjected to bullying and other forms of mistreatment, they turn to alcohol or drugs to help them cope, leading to increased rates of substance misuse.
Your sexual identity influences many aspects of your life, from parenting to navigating relationships with family members. Short-term online therapy can help you navigate the process of coming out or give you an opportunity to explore your identity, while long-term therapy is helpful for issues such as substance abuse, depression, and anxiety.
|Challenges LGBTQ+ individuals may face
|How online therapy can help
|Exploring gender identity/expression and sexual orientation
|If you’re still exploring your gender identity or sexual orientation, a therapist can help you develop a clear picture of how you want to express yourself. A qualified therapist can also help you make informed decisions about transitioning or managing challenges related to your relationships.
|Navigating coming out
|An experienced therapist can help you navigate the process of coming out. If you’re concerned about how people will react, your therapist can give you a safe space in which to explore your feelings. With the right level of support, you’ll be able to come out on your own terms.
|Managing depression and anxiety
|If you have depression and/or anxiety, a therapist can help you identify your triggers and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Your therapist can also help you set goals, have a more positive outlook, and learn how to establish boundaries with loved ones, all of which can help you manage your symptoms.
|Dealing with rejection and bullying
|Rejection affects your self-esteem and self-confidence, which can make it difficult to maintain positive relationships or work toward your goals. An experienced therapist can help you deal with feelings of rejection without engaging in self-blame. A therapist can also help you cope with the negative effects of bullying.
|Treatment for substance abuse
|If you use alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism, a trained therapist can help you identify your addiction triggers and understand how substance use affects your physical and mental health. Your therapist may use cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, or contingency management to help you recognize and break harmful behavior patterns.
|Discussing concerns about sexual health (STDs/HIV)
|You may have questions about your sexual well-being or need more information on how to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections. A trained therapist can help you understand how to set boundaries with sexual partners and take care of your physical and mental health as you explore your sexuality.
|Working through relationship issues
|Once you come out, you may need assistance navigating your personal relationships. Couples counseling can help you strengthen your relationship with a spouse or other romantic partner. A therapist can also help you improve relationships with parents, siblings, and other loved ones.
If you’re interested in online therapy, you have two options for finding a therapist. The first is to ask for a referral or use the internet to find therapists in your area. You can narrow down your initial list by looking for therapists who offer telehealth appointments. The second option is to use an online therapy directory to connect with a therapist. Depending on the laws in your state, individual therapists may conduct sessions via video, live chat, text, or phone call. If you choose an online therapy service, your sessions may take place via live video or mobile app. Either way, you’ll have access to increased convenience and privacy.
If you’re interested in online therapy, you have the option of finding an individual provider or using a service that can connect you with one of hundreds of therapists. Nationwide services typically offer more communication options than individual providers, but you should be able to find a local therapist who provides at least one type of online therapy. If you want to talk to your therapist one-on-one you can connect via video. Live chat, text, and telephone therapy are a little less formal, but they can still provide all the benefits of talking through your problems with a qualified therapist.
|How to connect with an online therapist
|How it works
|You meet with a therapist via two-way video, which allows you and the therapist to see and hear each other. Some services offer video therapy for around $100 per session, but it may cost more if you choose a therapist on your own or need someone who specializes in a specific type of therapy.
|You and the therapist communicate via a messaging tool that allows for instant communication; however, you and the therapist can’t see each other. Some services charge by the minute, while others charge an hourly or weekly fee to connect with a therapist.
|With text-based therapy, you and your therapist communicate via text message. You won’t be able to see or hear each other, and the communication isn’t completely synchronous, which means you may not receive a response right away. Text services may charge a monthly fee or have some other type of subscription plan.
|If you don’t want to use video, but you’d like something more synchronous than text-based therapy, telephone therapy is a happy medium. You’ll be able to communicate directly with the therapist without having to wait for a response to come in several hours later. Therapists typically charge an hourly fee for therapy delivered via telephone.
Once you decide to work with a therapist, it’s important to find the right fit. A good therapist should be able to put you at ease and listen to your concerns without judgment. It’s also important to find someone who understands how to help you explore your gender identity or sexual orientation in a healthy way.
The first thing you need to do is consider your therapy needs. Do you need short-term therapy to help you navigate the coming-out process, or are you seeking a long-term relationship?
You may feel more comfortable working with a therapist who’s been vetted by someone you trust. That’s why asking for referrals can be helpful.
Once you have a few names in mind, spend a little time researching each one to narrow down your list and get closer to making an appointment. The vetting process should include checking credentials, reading reviews, and having an initial session with each therapist.
Once you choose a therapist, it can take some time to develop a trusting relationship. If you have a bad experience during your first session, it’s okay not to go back, but don’t worry if you don’t click with your therapist right away.
Whether you’re questioning your sexual orientation or interested in exploring your gender identity, it’s important to have support from people you can trust. If you need more information about therapy, medical care, and other services for LGBTQ+ individuals, visit the following resources. With the right information, you can make better decisions about your life.
Learn more from the sources used in this guide: