FAQs About Finding LGBTQI+ Inclusive Providers
Like with Max, LGBTQI+1 people often experience higher rates of behavioral health challenges such as depression, suicidality and substance use. These increased rates of behavioral health difficulties are not caused by their identities, but are related to increased stress from discrimination, bullying, violence and rejection faced more frequently by LGBTQI+ individuals. When seeking treatment for mental health and substance use conditions, LGBTQI+ individuals, like their peers and their families, deserve the best evidence-based care from knowledgeable health providers without the risk of harm.
The following frequently asked questions and answers (FAQs) can be useful in better understanding what type of care is most appropriate for Max and other LGBTQI+ people:
When researching a provider, you can look for a provider that:
- Specializes in LGBTQI+ issues;
- Identifies as LGBTQI+;
- Advertises their commitment to culturally competent treatment approaches; and/or
- Is recommended by other LGBTQI+ clients and/or included in a directory from an association, such as GLMA or NALGAP, that represents LGBTQI+ providers.
When engaging with a provider, they should:
- Provide you with accurate information on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and variations in sex characteristics;
- Support you as you learn more about your sexual orientation and/or gender identity;
- Support you and your support-network in accessing gender-affirming care, when indicated;
- Help you navigate your sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression within the context of other aspects of your identity, like your culture, religion, etc.;
- Identify sources of distress, including sources that relate to your sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression;
- Work with you to reduce the distress you experience;
- Include a treatment goal to help guide you towards the best possible level of overall health and well-being;
- Provide evidence-based practices supported by science that are incorporated into a comprehensive care plan.
- Be aware of LGBTQI+ resources that provide information and support outside of a clinical setting, such as LGBTQI+ inclusive recovery support groups.
This is a specialized model of care used in the treatment of distress arising from differences between one’s gender identity and one’s sex assigned at birth that uses evidence-informed treatment options to promote patient health and prevent the risk of poor mental and physical health outcomes. Gender-affirming care is highly individualized and focuses on the needs of each individual. Gender-affirming care may include learning about gender and sexuality (appropriate to the age and developmental level), parental and family support social interventions, and mental health care. While gender affirming care can include medical services; often they are not needed.
There are many ways that you can support your family member or friend. It is important to create strong and positive engagement with them, such as by:
- Helping them navigate their search for an LGBTQI+ inclusive behavioral health provider.
- Creating a space for open communication with them, so they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
- Affirming their gender identity by using their correct pronouns.
You can also help or encourage your LGBTQ+ family member or friend seek gender affirming care, which can help their mental health and wellbeing.
No. Sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts (“SOGI change efforts”), sometimes called “conversion therapy” are harmful and should never be provided. Although the terms “conversion therapy” and “reparative therapy” are commonly used to describe efforts to repress or change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, these efforts are not therapeutic, and using these terms reinforce disinformation that LGBTQI+ people need repair or conversion. Efforts to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity are grounded in the belief that being LGBTQI+ is abnormal. They are dangerous, discredited, and ineffective practices.
Yes, recent studies have linked SOGI change efforts to significant harms, such as increased risk of suicidality and suicide attempts, as well as other negative outcomes including severe psychological distress and depression.
SOGI change efforts are not supported by credible evidence and have been rejected as harmful by scientific professional associations. For example, associations that have taken measures to end SOGI change efforts include: medical associations, such as the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine; psychological associations, such as the American Psychoanalytic Association, American Psychological Association, and National Association of School Psychologists; counselor associations, such as the American School Counselor Association and American Counseling Association; and social worker associations, such as the National Association of Social Workers.
You can also check out the following links for definitions of LGBTQI+ related terms, information about harmful and therapeutic approaches with LGBTQI+ youth, helping resources, and other useful information to support LGBTQI+ people: SAMHSA’s LGBTQI+ webpage, the LGBTQ+ Behavioral Health Equity Center of Excellence, and SAMHSA’s report Moving Beyond Change Efforts: Evidence and Action to Support and Affirm LGBTQI+ Youth (PDF | 5.2 MB). For support with insurance-related considerations for gender-affirming care, please refer to the Health Insurance Marketplace Coverage, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Notice and Guidance on Gender Affirming Care, Civil Rights, and Patient Privacy (PDF | 321 KB).