In recent years, mental health resources have emerged that focus specifically on addressing concerns felt by members of the LGBTQ+ community. Online therapy gives community members more options for service providers and makes care more accessible. Many online resources challenge biases inherent in the medical community, and providers offer care that embraces the complexity of LGBTQ+ identities. This helps to reduce barriers to care that community members often experience.
Being LGBTQ+ carries a stigma that can negatively impact mental health. Studies have shown that, when compared to the general population, LGBTQ+ youths are more likely to have depression, anxiety, and disordered eating. In a recent survey of over 53 million patients, 58% of transgender people were found to have at least one mental health disorder compared to about 14% of cisgender patients. In many cases, when members of the LGBTQ+ community have sought help for mental health issues, they’ve been met with further discrimination.
Issues faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community are as varied as the community members. But there are some life events and mental health concerns more commonly seen in LGBTQ+ people. These include but are not limited to:
- Coming out
- Gender dysmorphia
- Identity-based shame and trauma
- Substance abuse
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, there are many resources available to help you. Each of these services is specific to the LGBTQ+ community. If you can’t use a phone, many sites also have a chat feature.
- The Trevor Project: 866-488-7386
- The LGBT National Hotline: 888-843-4564
- Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline-LGBTQ+: 800-273-8255
- PFLAG List of Support Hotlines
Keep in mind: if you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, online therapy isn’t your best option. If you’re thinking of suicide or having violent thoughts, reach out to one of the hotlines for immediate help.
There are many life experiences that members of the LGBTQ+ community may need help navigating. While acceptance has become more widespread, you may still face discrimination and violence at home, at school, at work, and in your community. Dealing with anti-LGBTQ+ stigma along with rejection, trauma, and bullying makes access to therapy even more essential.
Online therapy platforms
Many online therapy sites offer services for LGBTQ+ people. Some of them are dedicated LGBTQ+ spaces, while others are LGBTQ+ spaces within more extensive therapy networks:
- Pride Counseling: With providers specializing in matters specific to the LGBTQ+ community, Pride Counseling offers assistance via phone, video, and chat. Answer a few questions about yourself, and then get paired with a therapist who can help you. Pride Counseling is owned by BetterHelp, one of the most popular and trusted online therapy companies. At Pride Counseling, you have a choice to receive support from a therapist who is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community. You can also learn more first by checking out our full review.
- Gay Therapy Center: Every provider at the GTC is LGBTQ+. You can participate in online sessions with in-person sessions in some cities. There are individual as well as couples therapy sessions available.
- Talkspace: Talkspace’s therapist network includes many affirming therapists–those who acknowledge the unique struggles of LGBTQ+ people and work to support them from a place of awareness and acceptance. We’ve got a full review of Talkspace’s services if you’d like to learn more.
- Amwell: LGBTQ+ counseling involves an online video session with a therapist specializing in gender and sexuality diversity. Use your session to explore your identity, talk about anxiety, depression, dysphoria, or any other topic you choose.
Benefits of online therapy
There are many reasons that online therapy has become so popular in recent years. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, providers had to figure out alternatives to in-person care. This led to the increased popularity of online appointments for both physical and mental health services. In many ways, telemedicine is here to stay. Here are some benefits to participating in online therapy.
Convenience: Instead of taking time off from work or out of your schedule, you can set up a session when you have free time at home. You don’t have to sit in a waiting room or cramped office either. Instead, you can have your session from the comfort of your living space. This saves time and may make reluctant or first-time participants feel more at ease.
Accessibility: Quality in-person therapy isn’t available in all places. If you live in a remote area, your options for treatment used to be limited. With online therapy, you can choose from hundreds of providers all over the country. If you have physical limitations, getting to an in-person appointment may be difficult. Online therapy allows you to access care without leaving home.
Affordability: Therapy can be costly. It can also be challenging to determine how much an in-person session costs. Many sites offer upfront pricing with online therapy, so you know exactly how much you’ll pay per session. Online sessions also have much lower overhead costs for providers, so they can sometimes charge less.
Choice of providers: If you are location-bound when choosing a provider, your options are limited. With online therapy, you can look through dozens of provider profiles to find someone who specializes in your needs. Most services also make it easy to switch providers if you don’t get it right the first time.
If you’ve participated in therapy before or are new at this, there are some things to consider as you begin online treatment. While it is the same quality of care as in-person therapy, keep these factors in mind before, during, and after your session.
Prep for the session
Before getting started with an online therapy session, there are steps you can take to make sure you’re ready to go.
Test your tech. Make sure your phone or computer is charged and the application you use to connect with your therapist is updated and open. Test your camera and microphone.
Find a quiet spot. You want to be able to concentrate on the session and your therapist. Make sure your area is free of distractions and that you won’t be interrupted during your appointment.
Think about your needs. Come to the session with some topics or ideas you’d like to discuss with your therapist. If you had homework from your previous session, be prepared to share it. In between sessions, make notes about any issues or questions that come up and bring these to the session.
Engage with your therapist
If this is your first time seeing a therapist or your first venture into online therapy, you might wonder about the best way to engage with your therapist. Here are some tips.
- Be flexible. Remember that technology and scheduling issues will always happen, and it’s important to show grace to yourself and your therapist when they do.
- Have the same expectations as an in-person session. Even though you’re connecting remotely, online therapy is just as valid as in-person therapy. Take it just as seriously, and bring your whole self to each session.
- Name your emotions and needs. Because it’s harder to read facial expressions and body cues online, explicitly naming your feelings and needs is even more important in online therapy. Let your therapist know exactly how you’re feeling and what you need from the session. If you’re having trouble describing those emotions, call that out as well.
After your session ends, you may wonder about the best course of action. There are a few things you can do to make the most of your session even after it’s over.
Have reflection time. With in-person sessions, you may have had commuting time or other time by yourself to process your session. Make sure to carve out that same reflection time after an online session.
Do your homework. Sometimes, your therapist will give you specific strategies or activities to complete before your next session. Plan out some time to complete your task and be prepared to discuss it.
Schedule your next session. Consistency is key when it comes to therapy. Make sure you’ve talked to your therapist about a good cadence for appointments, and be sure to schedule your next session early.
For more advice, check out our guide with detailed advice from a licensed therapist.
In addition to crisis hotlines and online therapy, there are many other online resources that you can use to receive assistance or learn more about LGBTQ+ identities. Here are a few:
- The Pride Institute
- Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
- The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
- The Bisexual Resource Center
- National Center for Transgender Equality
Discrimination and bullying of LGBTQ+ individuals often start in childhood. To help young community members, several organizations have formed that cater to issues faced by LGBTQ+ youth. Here are a few examples: