Working with an affirming therapist can help us feel comfortable expressing our true selves in a therapy setting. In this image, a couple sits across from a therapist. The man appears to be listening attentively to what his partner is telling the therapist.
Ba Bunansa - Online Therapist in Dallas TX

Ba Bunansa, MS, LPC, NCC, BC-TMH
I am an LGBTQIA+-affirming therapist for Texas teens, adults, and the AAPI community. I work with teens and adults online throughout Texas and in person for residents of Plano and surrounding areas.

We should all feel comfortable expressing our true selves and to feel free to be honest and vulnerable in a therapy setting.

We need to feel safe to make progress… And that’s true whether we’ve entered therapy to explore ourselves more deeply or to address challenges we’re facing. It can take work to find a therapist we’re comfortable with.

After all, everyone has their own unique communication style and approach—and so do we! Finding a match isn’t always easy.

And when you’re part of a marginalized community, it can feel that much more difficult.

Enter: ✨affirming therapy.✨

What is Affirming Therapy?

Affirming therapy is sometimes called LGBTQIA+ affirmative therapy or simply LGBTQIA+ therapy. It’s a form of mental health care tailored toward the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Affirming therapy is free of the stigma, discrimination, and bias LGBTQIA+ folks can experience in more traditional settings. In an affirming therapy space, there should be no need for the client to “educate” their therapist… That therapist will already be aware of what clients may experience due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. 

Affirming therapy exists to advocate for the support needs of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Why Do We Need It?

Minority stress is the stress often faced by those in stigmatized groups. This can describe racial or religious minorities. It can also apply to stress rooted in discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

This stress and stigma can be internalized easily… LGBTQIA+ folks begin to subconsciously believe the negative things we hear about ourselves and our community.

Over time, minority stress can lead to challenging emotions, mental health struggles, and poor coping skills.1 

As many as 60 percent of LGBTQIA+ people experience anxiety or depression—more than twice the rate of non-LGBTQIA+ folks.2

And this can start early. A CDC study determined that more than 60 percent of LGBTQIA+ youth feel disengaged from their usual hobbies and social activities because of poor mental health.3 As many as 45 percent thought about suicide in 2022.4

While identifying as LGBTQIA+ doesn’t make individuals inherently more likely to struggle with mental health concerns, living in a world full of stigma and discrimination does. It can lead to increased rates of anxiety, depression, and substance use.

So it’s critical that the therapy environment doesn’t continue to add to this stress and challenge. 

That’s why affirming therapy is essential.

What Are the Advantages of Affirming Therapy?

There are a lot of benefits to engaging in affirming therapy. First, you’ll find yourself in a safe space where you can be relatively well-assured that you won’t experience further harm.

In an affirming therapy space, you can talk about your relationships, mental health concerns, life stressors, professional challenges, or anything else on your mind. 

And you can do it freely, without having to spend precious time educating your therapist as to how being part of the LGBTQIA+ community informs these different parts of your life. 

You don’t have to only talk about your experiences as an LGBTQIA+ -identifying person in therapy. But most of us find that our identities are intersectional. Our sexual orientation, gender expression, race, religion, socioeconomic status, and more can color our life experiences—all at the same time.

For example, you may be struggling with family relationships. Maybe those struggles don’t actually center around your sexual orientation or gender identity—but that identity may add layers to how you’re able to address or navigate these difficult relationships. 

Perhaps you’ve recently needed medical care or been diagnosed with a chronic illness. These things can be significant stressors for anyone. And maybe you’ve also experienced discrimination within the care setting because of your sexual orientation or gender identity. 

If you’re struggling with something like coming out either at home or at work, experiencing gender dysphoria, or transitioning, it can be especially valuable to have the support and guidance provided in affirming therapy. 

What Should Affirmative Therapy Feel Like?

As its best, affirming therapy should feel validating, supportive, and strengthening. You should feel safe in your therapist’s company… And free to express your feelings and frustrations within the therapeutic environment.

An affirming therapist will have significant training around the needs and experiences of LGBTQIA+ clients. They may also identify as part of the community and be able to relate firsthand.

They should be able to help guide you and provide resources and referrals, as necessary.

How Can I Find LGBTQIA+ Affirming Therapy?

Finding appropriate care can feel like a stumbling block sometimes. 

It can be difficult to find providers who get it… Who understand all the things that come with identifying as part of a marginalized community. 

Here are some ways to find a provider who offers affirming therapy.

Start with a Google search.

Searching for “affirming therapist” or “LGBTQIA+ therapist near me” can be a great way to find affirming therapy in your area. You can learn a lot about a therapist who has their own website… Including whether you think you might be a good fit for their practice and overall vibe. 

You can also find agencies that specialize in LGBTQIA+ affirming therapy this way. And with the new popularity of telehealth and online counseling, you have more options than ever before. Just make sure the therapist is licensed in your state! 

Local LGBTQIA+ affinity groups or support groups.

Anywhere like-minded people gather is usually a great place to get recommendations. Therapy is no different, as long as you feel safe and comfortable asking. 

National groups like GLAAD or the Trevor Project also have resource lists worth checking out. 

Online Therapist Databases

Therapist databases like Psychology Today and TherapyDen offer a variety of filters useful for searching therapist listings… Everything from their practice specialties to their own preferences in providing care. 

And sites like The Association of LGBTQ+ Psychiatrists offer a database specific to counselors who also identify as LGBTQIA+.  

Questions to Ask a Therapist to Find Out if They Are Right for You >>

Affirming Therapy is Inclusive

Affirmative therapy is a place for the LGBTQIA+ community to receive specialized and inclusive mental healthcare. 

Therapists in this space have the training and know-how to avoid causing further harm to a community that still faces stigma and discrimination regularly. 

Whether you’re currently struggling with issues related to your sexual orientation or gender identity, affirmative therapy can validate and support you in your experiences and in your growth. 

If you’re in Texas and looking for an affirming therapy provider, I’d love to hear from you!

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Ba Bunansa - Online Therapist in Dallas TX

Ba Bunansa, MS, LPC, NCC, BC-TMH
I am an LGBTQIA+-affirming therapist for Texas teens, adults, and the AAPI community. I work with teens and adults online throughout Texas and in person for residents of Plano and surrounding areas.

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