How to Find an LGBTQ+ Therapist in Vancouver
Updated: Nov 29
When you are trying to find an LGBTQ counsellor near you, it can be hard to sort through the search results and figure out which one is a good fit. Especially in an urban centre like Vancouver, the search results on a therapist search engine like Psychology Today may be overwhelming. Conversely, if you live in a small or rural community, it may be difficult to find an LGBTQ therapist in your area, and you may need to consider online therapy with a queer-affirming therapist elsewhere.
In order to make the search a little bit easier, I’ve compiled a list of seven questions you can ask any therapist, either in your initial email or during your consultation (Stillwaters therapists offer a free 15 minute phone or video consultation) in order to get a sense of whether it’s a good fit for you.
7 Questions to Ask an LGBTQ+ Affirming Therapist
1. Are you part of the same community as me?
This one is important because you don’t want to have to educate your therapist. It can be really valuable to connect with someone who has lived experience that is similar to yours. It can be really nice to know that you’re on the same page, and that if you use the words your community uses to describe things, there won’t be any confusion. There is research suggesting that the relationship you have with your therapist is one of the best predictors of how much you get from therapy, and feeling like they truly understand where you’re coming from can really help build that relationship. On the other hand, if you are part of a very small community, you may want someone with a little bit more distance so that you don’t run into your therapist at softball, if the idea of that makes you uncomfortable. Great therapy can happen across difference too, with someone with vastly different identities than your own, but it's also okay to prefer a therapist who shares some of your lived experiences.
2. Do you have experience with the specific issues I’m seeking help about?
For example, do you have experience with autism, ADHD, BPD, or C-PTSD? Have you supported people coming out later in life or dealing with religious trauma? Queer parenting or fertility journeys? Each of our Stillwaters therapists, in addition to being queer, trans, and neurodivergent-affirming, has different specialties including PTSD, complex trauma, supporting love ones with mental illness, couples’ therapy, and others.
3. What’s your philosophy or approach?
Many of our Stillwaters clients have ADHD or autism and need to know that their therapist is neurodivergent affirming. Particularly when you have multiple marginalized identities, it’s really important to know that your therapist has thought about their own social location and knows where they stand on issues like racism, ableism, and transphobia.
4. Do you use specific methods?
Some of our Stillwaters counsellors have advanced training in treatments such as EMDR for trauma, ERP for OCD, the Gottman Method for couples, Internal Family Systems, and others. If you know there is an approach that works well for you, or has been recommended to you, ask your provider what their experience with it is.
5. Do you have experience with gender dysphoria?
If you are trans-identified or exploring your gender, it is important to know that your therapist has experience with the specific issues that you are dealing with and is knowledgeable about some aspects of the trans experience. There is evidence based treatment available for painful internal experiences like dysphoria, and you deserve to work with a therapist who knows how to help.
Furthermore, when you go to therapy, you don’t want to have to educate your therapist about your identity - going to therapy is hard work without adding that on top of it. Specific issues like dysphoria, navigating coming out as trans in your relationship, accessing gender-affirming healthcare, and dealing with transphobia all require knowledgeable, trans-competent therapists for your comfort and emotional safety.
6. Do you offer HRT assessments or Surgical Care Planning?
For many of our trans clients, it feels important to have their hormone readiness assessment or surgical care planning form done by someone they know and trust, and someone who identifies as trans-affirming. Several of our counsellors at Stillwaters offer assessments for HRT and surgical care planning.
7. Do you offer online therapy or in-person services?
Stillwaters offers both online or in-person. Some people prefer the flexibility of online counselling, or as mentioned earlier, need to seek out online counselling for practical reasons because they live in a rural or remote community where there may not be a trans-affirming therapist near them. Others like the presence and connection that comes from in-person therapy, and appreciate the calm, quiet atmosphere of the therapy room as a break from their day-to-day lives. For some queer and trans clients, privacy is a concern, and they are not able to do online sessions from home, leading to a preference for online therapy.
While this is not an exhaustive list, I hope that it is helpful as you move through the process of choosing an LGBTQ+ affirming therapist. Whatever you are struggling with, it is a brave choice to reach out. I really believe there is a “right fit” therapist out there for everyone, and I hope that these questions bring you closer to finding one that can support you in the way you need.