Choosing a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual-Affirming Therapist

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LGBTQ Healing: Choosing a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual-Affirming Therapist

Adapted from Bernice Goodman, “Out of the Therapist Closet,” in Hilda Hidalgo & Travis Peterson (Eds).

NASW Resource Manual on Gay and Lesbian Issues

Updated to include trans* information

  • What extent of knowledge does the therapist have about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender culture?
  • How long has the therapist been working with LGBTQ clients? How many LGBTQ clients has the therapist worked with?
  • What type of training does the therapist have in working with LGBTQ clients?
  • How much understanding and knowledge does the therapist have about racism, sexism, and homophobia/biphobia/transphobia in society?
  • What is the therapist’s knowledge of and commitment to issues of diversity among LGBTQ persons and culture?
  • Can the therapist constructively challenge self-oppressive attitudes and internal biases with clients and also help to create and support new, healthy ways of being?
  • Is the therapist a visible part of the LGBTQ community?
  • What feelings do you have of this person? Is there a feeling of trust and safety? Would you feel comfortable in participating in therapy with this person?
  • Does this therapist understand the effects of institutional homophobia, biphobia, and heterosexism, trans* biases and ignorance upon LGBTQ people?
  • Can this therapist recognize the differences between appropriate behavioral responses related to societal oppression and the unique psychological difficulties that a LGBTQ person may be experiencing?
  • How well does the therapist acknowledge the impact of socially defined gender roles on an LGBTQ individual’s sense of self?

If you have additional questions about or feedback about this article, please feel free to contact me.

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Therapy4OCLesbians – Reflections Newsletter – Vol. 1, Issue 1

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An affirming newsletter for Lesbian Women

and their Partners


December, 2008- Vol 1, Issue 1
In This Issue
Holiday Events
Global Giving
Christmas Bread-Comfort & Joy
Building Emotional Capital
Quick Links       
 Check out the updated Books & Resource sections!
Holiday Events
Women On A Roll
Holiday Open House

Hanukkah ~ Kwanzaa ~ Christmas ~ Solstice

Dec. 14th 1-5pm

Click HERE  for more info 


For a Look or a Touch” at The Broad StageSeattle’s Holocaust chamber music organization “Music of Remembrance” presents “For a Look or a Touch,” Composed by Jake Heggie, this theatrical song cycle is based on the true story of two gay teenage lovers arrested and torn apart by the Nazis. The Seattle Times says this critically acclaimed work has “deeply moving music and lyrics that pull no punches.”Thursday, December 4th at The Broad Stage
6:45 PM Meet the Composer, Jake Heggie
7:30 PM ConcertFor tickets and details,
call the box office at
310-434-3200 or visit

SCC to Perform at Holiday Progressive event for Out & AboutOn Saturday, Dec. 13th, 2008, the South Coast Chorale will be singing at the 7th Annual Holiday Progressive event for Out & About Long Beach. For more information about the event, please visit Out & About’s website.

A Poem for The Holidays:   

Christmas Eve,

 Almost Midnight
by  David DennyDriving through the mist
after delivering packages,
I come upon a family of deer
walking down the middle
 of the street.
I cut my lights and engine
 and coast behind them awhile. They are cruising the neighborhood,
nibbling the frosty lawns,
looking for nasturtiums.
I glide behind them
around a corner and down
another street,
the only sound the crunching of newly formed ice
beneath my tires,
until they disappear
onto the dark,
soggy soccer fields
of the middle school.
I tell you
I can count on one hand
the number of times
I’ve been happier.
Holiday Gift Ideas

Consider giving something that will be truly meaningful and spread peace and cheer at the same time.  There are several organizations that provide opportunities for global giving and gifts that “give back” –


When you are making out your Christmas card list this year, please consider including the following:

A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical   Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington , D.C. 20307-5001 

Welcome to the December 2008 issue of 
REFLECTIONS, from the office of Lisa Maurel, MFT. 

Be inspired this Holiday Season!

Christmas Bread -

Comfort & Joy


I have a cherished holiday memory.
Every Christmas Eve, I would spend the day in the warmth of my grandmothers kitchen. I can see the 40′s style kitchen in her tiny duplex, smell the aroma’s of her cooking and feel the cold wood floors under my feet. She was a woman of little means. She did not shower me with things. She gave me her time and attention. My love of baking, gardening and creativity were all cultivated in my time with her. But my favorite memory is our Christmas Bread tradition.

It seemed to me as a child that it took all day to make. When it was finally ready to shape-I’d climb up on the stool, put on her apron, and we’d roll and shape the dough by hand into two wreaths. The end result was a beautiful Christmas bread. And by tradition, the oldest daughter in the family served the bread on Christmas morning. With great pride, we presented our creation to the family.

My grandmother passed on when I was 19, my sophomore year in college. I mourned her death very quietly and privately. I was not comfortable really showing or expressing any emotions at that point in my life, other than happiness. I couldn’t really talk about how much I missed her for years after. But I’m so grateful to have had such a loving grandmother who gave so much of herself to me and to my family.

Her tradition has become a strong thread in the fabric of my own family. My ties to the family of my birth unraveled with my coming out. Holidays became a kind of crucible for working out the meaning of family for me. My mom would tell me: ” there’s the family your born to and the family you’re given.” Those people in your life with whom you share ties out of love, choice and loyalty can become your chosen family. My mom and my daughters are my blood family. My partner is a big part of my chosen family. We are especially grateful for her sister and brother in law; and their three little ones who have been added to our tribe-by birth and adoption. Together, we are weaving together a patchwork of people with whom we share blood ties and ties of the heart.

Our holidays are a kind of moveable feast now. We’ve scrapped many traditions and created new ones. We always make homemade cards and homemade cookies. But, you won’t find a ham or turkey on our Christmas table. My kids are vegetarian. We might spend Christmas at the firehouse running calls with my partner. We might celebrate on December 22nd . But there’s one tradition that never changes.

Christmas Bread. Every year, since my girls were old enough to sit up on the counter and help-they have been a part of this rite. Our Christmas bread sparks enthusiasm and eager anticipation in those who share in the feast. But for all of us who gather in the kitchen to roll the dough-we celebrate the greatest gift: the comfort and joy that comes with being a part of a chosen family.
Building Emotional Capital

Can therapy help you build capital?

With the economic recession upon us, perhaps there is another place you can find promising returns on the investment of your precious time and money: emotional capital. In the face of this economic storm we are in, you may be worried about many things: keep our job, surviving a layoff, paying your mortgage.
If these thoughts are on your mind more and more, you may be unwittingly priming your mind and your body into constant anxiety and worry.  Without the balance of self care, inner reflection and stress reduction, this anxiety and worry can erode your ability to utilize effectively deal with the many challenges you are facing. But you can change that! How? By building your emotional capital.

You can read more of this article here
Whether you are observing Christmas, Hanukkah, Maal Hijara, Kwaanza or simply enjoying some time off; I wish you and your chosen family, much peace. 


Happy Holidays,

Lisa Maurel, MFT 

“Growth is in your hands”
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