Our relationships are not abnormal, but they are unique.
Finding a professional who both affirms your identity and understands the unique challenges of LGBTQ relationships is critical when hiring professional support.
Don't be afraid to schedule consultations with multiple providers until you find a good fit.
Not all of my clients identify as LGBTQ, but for many it is especially important to know I have ten years experience working with this community.
I'm proud to say I have both lived experience, academic expertise, and professional training to support LGBTQ couples in my work.
A beautiful queer love story and example of how people like us can create intentional integrity-fueled relationships custom-tailored to our needs and identities.
THOUGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS
Julie and John Gottman are respected worldwide for their decades of research on healthy relationships, commitment, conflict, and trust through the years. Here’s a little peek into what they have to say about love in our community:
WHAT I DON'T DO
Sit and nod - instead, we'll take action (I've been described as "direct and not-coddling")
Add shame or judgment to your experience (there's already too much of that in the world)
Assume your queer experience is the same as my own
Pathologize you (I don't treat mental illness, so you won't receive a diagnosis, assessment or treatment for mental health conditions or substance use)
Support couples who are actively violent with one another- your safety needs to come first, then our work together can begin
WHAT I DO
Understand the unique dynamics and issues that arise for LGBTQ couples (based both in lived and professional experience)
Use a strengths-based approach to help you grow in a positive direction
Develop an individualized plan to change the way you do relationships
Follow a sex-positive kink-knowledgeable framework and draw from extensive experience as a sex educator
Help you listen, build trust and communicate effectively with yourself and those you love
Keep momentum and hope alive - even if it's hard for you to feel hopeful
What qualifies you to work with LGBTQ clients?
I studied LGBTQ identity development and human sexuality in my first masters at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University a long long time ago. From there I worked with queer resource centers on college campuses and LGBTQ nonprofits in Seattle. I left education/nonprofit work to become a therapist because I wanted more transgender people to have access to letter writing therapists.
My professional training came when I completed my graduate internship at the nation's longest-running LGBTQ-focused mental health agency, Seattle Counseling Services (formerly Seattle Counseling Services for Sexual Minorities). There I received excellent training on serving LGBTQ populations as a couples counselor.
Since then I have focused my private practice entirely on working with LGBTQ-identified clients. Even as I shift from counseling to relationship coaching, my dedication and expertise in serving LGBTQ clients remains strong.
Are you gay/queer/bi/trans/lesbian?
Yup. But that's about all the information I'll share about my own relationship. I like to keep the focus of our work on you.
Do you write letters for transgender medical procedures or treatment?
Not since I stopped working as a mental health counselor (because my clients aren't unhealthy- and neither are you) but I do have a LONG list of mental health providers who can write one for you.
Do you work with straight couples?
Of course! Many of my straight (or mostly-straight) couples are happy to know I work primarily with LGBTQ clients.
They often feel even more comfortable sharing the less traditional parts of themselves with a provider who is open-minded and non-judgmental.
How is coaching different from counseling?
You’ve tried therapy and stuck to it… but it’s time to apply the skills learne. Counseling is important reflective healing work, but my clients come to me hoping to take action for change. That's where coaching comes in.
Counseling (the "assessment and treatment of mental health disorders") is about asking why something is happening. Coaching doesn't assess or treat these disorders- my clients are healthy. Instead we ask what you want to do differently. How do you want to change?
I've recommended the books below to many clients over the years. Each has been very helpful. Click the image to order your copy.
Read something great? I'm always looking for suggestions. Send your book recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.