Do we still need LGBTQ specialist services?

Updated: Mar 29

Many counsellors ask me why I run a service aimed at LGBTQ clients. Some worry this can cause more segregation in society and some state that as counsellors we should work with everyone.

Firstly, just to clarify I don’t only work with LGBTQ people. My approach is above all about providing a safe and open-minded space to enable people to make the changes that they want in their life, regardless of how they identify.

People from many backgrounds come to my practice, and the issues that they want to talk about are unique to them. Having said that, gender and sexual diversity is an area where I have particular expertise, and clients from this group find it helpful to have an LGBTQ-identified counsellor who is experienced in counselling LGBTQ clients.

Just because a counsellor is LGBT it doesn't make them a specialist

I identify as a queer; however, it is not this personal identity that makes me qualified to work with LGBTQ clients, just as someone having been bereaved by the death of their dad wouldn’t automatically become qualified in bereavement counselling. It takes training and experience to specialise.

Having worked for many years in LGBTQ organisations in Brighton (MindOut,

LGBT Switchboard and Allsorts Youth Project), and through my personal and professional experience, I am all too aware that unfortunately we live in a society that is heteronormative and cisnormative. What I mean by this is that professionals and people in everyday life often assume that we are straight or cisgender unless we correct them, so it’s especially important that in the counselling room that’s not happening.

7 Reasons clients choose an LGBTQ-identified counsellor

1. To not have to worry about ‘coming out’

2. To have their pronouns respected

3. To avoid the risk of having to ‘educate’ you on LGBTQ issues

4. To have a shared language of LGBTQ terminology

5. To avoid the risk of being pathologised