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.

Partial Source


Share This ContentFacebookLinkedInTwitterEmailPinterestGoogle+StumbleUponDiggReddittumblr Newsletter – November 1, 2011

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Want to change the world for LGBT youth? Start here.

March On Announcement
Proudly Co-sponsoring

From Stonewall to the Castro, from Arlington with Leonard Matlovich to Dan Choi, the movie, March On, tells the story of the Equality Movement through the lives of five families. Same sex marriage performed in 1987 illegally to fleeting legality in 2008 San Francisco, March On celebrates the many faces of marriage.

March On is the story of the Equality Movement through the lives of five families. Their stories are the reason we march.

This Friday November 12
Renberg Theater: The Village at Ed Gould Plaza
1125 N. McCadden Place
LA, CA 90038

Attend the Q & A with Director Laura McFerrin following the showing.


In This Issue
Speaking OUT
Community News
Be the Change
Join Our List
Join Our Mailing List



For more LGBT resources visit my websites or the community links below.
Find us on Facebook

For LGBT resources and therapists in your area:

Los Angeles Area
Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Associatiion

LA Gay and Lesbian Center
Bay Area

Long Beach & Orange County
The Center – LB
The Center OC



Speaking OUT



Hear Lisa on KPFK’s
Inner Visions Radio Show
Lisa’s KPFK appearance and discussion of bullying, LGBT youth and Suicide Prevention. You can listen now or
Download the Interview
to your computer. Got to the link and scroll down to the list of recent broadcasts. Select #4.

Special  thanks to Holly Miller, MFT who interviewed me for Nita Vallens, Ph.D. ofInner Visions on KPFK.

Queer Identity Group
Life OUTside the box….

A support group for individuals who identify as gender queer or have a queer sexual orientation.

Are you neither straight nor gay? Do you identify as bisexual? Do you reject male and female gender labels?

if so, this is a great place for you to process your experience of living outside the box in a world that insists on boxes!

To pre-register please call 714-953-LGBT (5428)
Farifteh Shahbazian ext 325 or Traci Medeiros-Bagan ext. 320.
$10 a session.

Lisa’s 2011 Training Schedule will be posted in
Journey’s Winter Issue!

For information and registration visit:


Community News
Transgender Day of Rememberance
Transgender people are murdered at the rate of one per month on average in the U.S.
Every fall, we gather to remember our transgender friends and family who have lost their lives to violence driven by hate and fear. This tradition also raises awareness about violence against people who are gender non-conforming, whether they identify as transgendered or not. Please visit TDOR website for a list of events around the world and one near you. -From

Black and White Lesbian Group

Visit the Mazer Lesbian Archives
“The Mazer Archives is the largest major archive on the West Coast dedicated to preserving and promoting lesbian and feminist history and culture. By creating a safe place for women to explore the richness of lesbian history, perhaps adding to it themselves, we are paving the way for future generations to understand more fully their own identity and history and help maintain this vital link to their own past”.-from





I’m enjoying my favorite coffee on a windy fall day,  as I write this quarter’s issue of Journey’s. In the wake of the recent wave of suicides by bullied youth who found themselves the victims of hate and fear, I’m asking the question: what can we do to make the world safer for them?

How can we each make a difference in our own families, neighborhoods, churches, mosques, synagogues, schools and communities? You are each in a unique position to influence your world. In the same way a pebble sends the ripples through the water , your words, actions and attitudes shape those around you. And it can begin with something as simple as sharing a cup of coffee and starting a conversation. I hope what you find here will be inspiring and informative.

“From little things, big things grow….”
The Waifs


In solidarity,
Lisa Maurel, MFT

Find me on Facebook





Our community has been shaken by the wave of suicides related to homophobic bullying and parental rejection. The latest tragedy struck a mormon family in Utah. Colt David Hansen, age 28, took his life after an argument with his parents over his sexuality. Despondent, cornered and afraid, LGBT youth face the highest risk of suicide when they face rejection by their parents. Its important to recognize that the constant shame and rejection associated with homophobia takes a tremendous toll on the psyche of all LGBT people. This wound is likely the core factor in the increased rates of substance abuse and suicide among LGBT people.

Bullying and  Homophobia are not new.

Did you know that?
Oscar Wilde was tried and sent to prison for writing about gay love.
Early colonialists justified violence of the indigenous tribes because of the inclusion of Two Spirit people in their communities.
Joan of Arc was burned at the stake because she refused to stop wearing men’s clothing.

ALL youth are at risk, not just gay and lesbian youth.
What’s happening today is an extension of the historic persecution of gender non-conforming people. 
Bullies target their prey based upon their PERCEPTION of sexuality and gender non-conformity. Many of the youth suicides of late were not gay identitified youth. However, they were targeted because of perception that they were too different.


Queer Asian Youth


LGBT youth are FOUR TIMES as likely to take their lives as their straight peers. When they experience rejection or condemnation by their parents, that risk increases two fold.

Each of us can play a role in changing the violent environment that LGBT youth experience.Here’s how you make a difference: 

Dispel Fear with Facts
Learning the facts about sexuality and gender can reduce fear and bias. Straightlaced: How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up is an excellant film that addresses gender bias, homophobia and the everyday experience of gender roles.

Take a Stand
The best way to stop a bully is to confront them. If you are in a position to speak up, do so. Letting homophobic, racist, and sexist remarks go unchallenged conveys a passive social acceptance to bigotry. As a society, we can change the environment simply by signaling that such remarks and attitudes are not welcomed.

Let Youth Know You are SAFE
Youth feel safer when they know where to go for help. You can be a beacon of safety for the kids in your life simply by letting them know you are here for them. If you interact with kids in a professional capacity, you can find more resources for creating safe zones here.

Reduce the Isolation
Until very recently, LGBT youth have grown up in the shadow of silence about sexuality and gender. With no guidance and sometimes no language to capture their experience, they have struggled alone. Almost every LGBT person who recalls their youth will say…I thought I was the only one. Make sure they know: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. WE ARE EVERYWHERE. I’m From Driftwood Project is a great resource for worldwide stories of coming out.

BE a Role Model
Thanks to increased visibility and of course, the access of information online, youth have begun coming out at younger ages. Athletes like Kaye Allums of George Washington University shine a light for LGBT youth and model pride and dignity for all of us.  You can be a role model by taking these steps or even mentoring youth.

You can find more resources for LGBT youth and their parents at my websites.

“be the change you wish to see in the world” (Gandhi)


lisa - headshot  Peace on your journey,





© 2011 Lisa Maurel, MFT, Lic. 32416
- All rights reserved

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