As a bi, pan, or fluid person, you deserve a mental healthcare provider who really “gets it,” and knows that your orientation is a thing – and so are all the unique challenges that
go with it. When it comes to getting relevant, empathetic psychotherapy tailored to your needs, it’s crucial that your therapist know what people go through when they suddenly
have to go back on birth control after five years off; when they feel like they’re “too gay
for the straights and too straight for the gays”; or when they worry that their attractions
aren’t evenly spread among the genders, or not static and predictable over time.(Spoiler alert: it’s okay to “lean” one way, and it’s okay if your leanings change!).
Of course, if the therapist has personally experienced some of this, all the better – but what’s really important is that it’s part of their continuing education as a professional.
To some degree, it’s like finding any match: you have to shop around. There are,
however, some resources and modes of searching that can help you avoid taking a complete shot in the dark. And though we’re still far away from removing all the barriers of money and geography, almost everyone can make small choices that put the healthcare and mental healthcare professions on notice to get with the times.
Here are some places to look to get you started:
If you’re in the SoCal area, you can email our own Dr. Mimi Hoang for her list of bi-affirming therapists: drmimihoang [at] gmail.com
Otherwise, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, though it doesn’t have “all the letters” in its name, does in fact have a database of providers you can search with the keyword “bisexual.” You will definitely notice a difference in the profiles where “bisexual” is a standalone word, and not just part of the now-mainstream “LGBT,” “LGBTQ,” etc.
Here’s a good article on “How to Find a Bi Competent Therapist” by Estraven Le Guin.
Our LABTF Needs Assessment also catalogued bi+ people’s experiences with mental health providers.
Alex Anders of Bisexual Real Talk has a video with Dr. Mary Andres, who trains clinical psychologists at USC, on this topic.
General things to consider when searching:
-Ask a bi+ friend who found a therapist they liked.
-Ask for a free 20-minute consultation with a few different therapists before picking the one you feel most confident with.
-When asking for referrals, ask specifically for a therapist with bi+ cultural competence, which is different from gay/lesbian cultural competence.-Even if a therapist has never worked
-If your existing therapist says something misinformed about bisexuality, let them know that what they said bothered you, and see if they are open to acknowledging the faux pas and correcting their mistake.