On St. Patrick’s Day last year, 2020, I was scheduled to start a Gay Men’s Psychotherapy Group in my practice in Hollywood, California. A couple days before it was set to start, I reluctantly had to tell all the members that due to this “coronavirus pandemic” that was gaining steam, with a lot of fear and unknowns, we would be “postponing” the group for now. Little did I know, a couple weeks later, I would lose my office space completely, as I was subleasing in a suite where my colleague saw the writing on the wall and decided to not renew his lease at all. That therapy group would never see the light of day.
This began my journey in moving my practice completely online. At first, like many of my therapist friends and associates, I was reluctant. I worried that the sessions would feel disjointed, there would be a loss of connection and making contact with my clients, and it would be sort of a low-rent substitute for therapy until things opened back up again and I was able to get another office in LA. Much to my surprise, I found that not much was lost at all. In today’s world of high-speed Internet and iPads, I found online sessions to be not much different than in-person ones, still feeling close to my clients, like I was having an intimate conversation with them in the room.
In fact, I started to see not only were things not lost, a lot was being gained. I was able to move my schedule around more easily because I didn’t have to plan for specific office hours for the day. I was able to easily enter my sessions stress-free and present without the frustrating onslaught of Los Angeles traffic and parking to strip me of my empathy for the day. Clients were also reporting to me that they enjoyed not having to travel as well, including sitting in a waiting room trying to avoid eye contact with other patients. Most importantly, everyone, including myself, felt much safer from the virus. It didn’t need to be a choice between physical health and mental health anymore, risking germs by entering a crowded elevator. Suddenly, as someone who was used to being tethered to a specific location for my job, my employment became remote. There was such a freedom in this, realizing I was able to be just as effective in my work, while being wherever I wanted to be. Eventually, after many signs from the universe and conversations with my husband, we realized it was time to make a big move out of LA. Since my license was fully active still in California, and my clients were living there, I was able to still see my clients from our new home in sunny South Florida, while also getting licensed there.
Then comes the light-bulb moment during the Fall of 2020, when I realized that by doing online work, I could potentially see clients anywhere in the states that I was licensed, including expanding my work with the LGBTQ community, which was my specialty. What a great gift for both myself and the general public to expand the reach of a therapist to an entire state, instead of being limited to a specific demographic region. Not only could I build my practice up this way, but clients would have a much bigger pool to choose from to find the right match for them, and reap all the benefits of doing online therapy. Thus, my idea for https://lgbtqtherapyspace.com/ was born. Sure, I had seen the BetterHelp and TalkSpace’s of the world out there for awhile now, but there was not yet an online platform that was marketed directly to the LGBTQ and queer community, something that was sorely missing in the community. In fact, I would argue that for this specific population, this expanded reach is needed more than in any other group. Having completed a specialization in LGBTQ Affirmative Psychotherapy in grad school at Antioch University Los Angeles, I know the importance of having an affirmative, accepting, therapist that understands the specific needs of LGBTQ and queer individuals. For healing to really take place, we need to feel completely safe, accepted, and “seen” by our therapist. Having an LGBTQ-affirmative therapist available to someone in either a big city like Miami, or a smaller town like Fresno (where they may be less available), is imperative for an LGBTQ person to gain the most from their work in therapy.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness month this May, I’m extremely proud to launch LGBTQ Therapy Space into the universe, which is an online management company that connects the LBGTQ+ and queer-identified community with local licensed therapists, and facilitates the delivery of therapy services from home for both clients and therapists, including providing scheduling and billing services through a HIPAA-compliant online video platform. We believe in the three A’s: Authenticity and being true to who you are, Alignment to find balance, and Acceptance to help you love every part of yourself.
For the launch, we will be providing administrative services to therapists and clients alike in three states: California, Florida, and Pennsylvania. We will be expanding to additional states soon, including reaching people in places like South Dakota, Idaho, and Arkansas, where they may not be as many LGBTQ-affirmative therapists available to people who need them.
As we say in the “About Us” section of our website, “LGBTQ Therapy Space understands the unique experience of being LGBTQ+. As queer people, we have a particular history and background, with specific needs, desires, and struggles, while at the same time also sharing the same difficulties that all humans experience. By connecting clients with therapists who understand the emotional complexity of their lives, without judgment, we help facilitate an authenticity and acceptance to your inner life that can help you navigate life’s challenges, both internal and external.”
While some of our competitors out there offer online therapy with LGBTQ therapists, or help you connect with LGBTQ therapists in your actual city, we are the first company that will be matching LGBTQ clients with therapists in their state and providing a platform for online therapy and administrative services (scheduling, payment, hosting sessions), yet is also LGBTQ-owned and operated. We are currently in process of becoming a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise® (LGBTBE®) by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. In addition, we will be providing articles with insight and resources about LGBTQ mental health in our “Articles” section. I have extensive experience with writing this content already, being the exclusive psychotherapist writing about mental health topics for www.queerty.com, including publishing my own self-help column, Dear Jake.
LGBTQ Space is the perfect confluence of my own experience. It has allowed me a merger of my writing skills, background in digital marketing, sales, and creative design (for film studios in Los Angeles as well as at Q.Digital, the largest LGBTQ media company where I worked for a decade), while also drawing on my clinical experience as a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist licensed in two states (CA #88845 and FL #MT3955), with a specialization in LGBT-Affirmative Psychotherapy. Finally achieving my own sense of authenticity and purpose in the world through this venture has allowed me the chance to now pass that on to both the community and other therapists, and ideally help thousands of LGBTQ people, old and young, to find their purpose, passion, and sense of peace in the world.
If you have any feedback, tips, or want to let us know which state to launch in next, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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