How LGBTQ-affirmative is your counselling practice?

Updated: Mar 29

Guest blogger and counsellor Patricia Gough shares her experience of LGBTQ awareness training.

How confident do you feel working with clients from the LGBTQ community? Do you ever worry about getting ‘it’ wrong? How LGBTQ-affirmative is your practice? These are some of the themes we explored in this LGBTQ Basic Awareness Training with Chloe Foster, from Sussex Rainbow Counselling.

Chloe is a humanistic counsellor in private practice who is passionate about helping therapists become more inclusive in their practice and services.

At the start of the seminar, we were greeted with the option to add our pronouns to our name labels, which sparked the first of many interesting and rich discussions. What exactly are pronouns and why might they be important when working with clients from the LGBTQ community?

We were invited to collaborate in various practical activities, exploring the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation, as well as defining key terminology. We also reflected on how we identify and express our own gender and whether the gender(s) we are physically attracted to differ from who we are emotionally attracted to.

We also considered homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. What impact may it have on a person to be denied housing or employment solely because of their gender identity? How might someone be affected by living in a largely heteronormative, cisnormative society that openly debates and scrutinises LGBTQ rights and questions people’s very existence? We concluded the day by exploring how we, as therapists, can become more LGBTQ inclusive and affirmative in our own practice and services.

I found this seminar informative and thought provoking. I felt discussions were well led and contained by Chloe who ensured that challenging discussions remained respectful.

I left feeling reassured in my inclusive practice and felt the seminar was an important reminder that whilst it is paramount that we do not unintentionally discriminate our clients further, members of the LGBTQ community are not ‘the other’.

Gender identity and sexual orientation are part of our human experience! As with all clients, it is OK to not always know everything, to not always get 'it' right, but to remain curious and open to each client’s individual experience.

Patricia Gough is a qualified counsellor working in private practice in Brighton. More details here: