LGBTQ+ Affirming Therapy
You’re looking for an open-minded therapist. In a perfect world, you’d find someone who has lived experience as part of the LGBTQ+ community. At a minimum, you want someone who understands and truly cares about the unique struggles you face. And let’s face it, that can be pretty hard to find in our area of Tennessee.
Coming out can be a terrifying, nervewracking thing to do. You may be getting mixed messages, maybe even scary ones, about what's okay for you to do, who it is "acceptable" to be, or who you can love. You may feel like it's not safe for you to be you. Or, maybe you're way past tired of getting comments and stares. When you come to counseling, you're going to find a secure, supportive, place with us (my dog Edge and me) here. We're on your side. For real.
Why Work with Me?
I am, a cishet (cisgender, straight), white dude with an LGBTQ+ counseling page. So, you may be questioning why you would want to work with me? The truth is, I don’t have the lived experience you may be looking for in a therapist. However, I’m here to help you because I really care.
I believe you deserve a safe, supportive place to talk about your struggles. You deserve someone who will affirm your gender identity and expression, your sexuality, and YOU, no matter what. And I want to be that for you.
So, while I may never fully understand your experience, I'll do everything I can to provide you the high-quality counseling you deserve. I will work hard to provide you with a safe, secure, comfortable, and supportive place. As time passes, more people are stepping out and being themselves. As a therapist, I seek out trainings on some of the unique challenges faced by folx in the community, including LGBTQ+ youth.
I know that "LGBTQ+" is an acronym born partly out of convenience. And, I'm extremely aware that people represented by any letter, or combination of letters, have their own unique struggles that can be directly related to that. Please know, I also don't think that falling under any of these letters is a "mental health issue." A lot of times, the "issues" come from discrimination, lack of support, and acceptance. In addition, the rest of life, in general, can be pretty damn good at throwing us curveballs every now and then. These factors work together to cause mental health struggles that can be worked through with me in counseling.
What is LGBTQ+ "Affirming?"
So there are all these words that get thrown around when we're talking about people existing together. Tolerant, accepting, friendly, open-minded, etc. Affirming means that I'm all about supporting you for who you are. Period.
You definitely don't need my approval to be who you are. But, I want you to know that there is a place where approval isn't even a thought. My dog Edge and I focus on supporting you and caring for your wellbeing, and we provide a safe place for you to be yourself.
Common Reasons Individuals May Come to LGBTQ+ Affirming Therapy
There are lots of reasons why folx come to LGBTQ+ affirming counseling. For example, you may come for help coming out to your family or exploring gender identity. Or, you may seek counseling for other reasons directly related to your gender identity or sexuality.
Furthermore, I know that plenty of the time, people come to counseling for other reasons like depression and anxiety, and just happen to be LGBTQ+. I guess what I'm saying is just about any reason you have to come in for counseling is cool with us!
What I Will and Won't Do When I work with Youth in LGBTQ+ Affirming Therapy
I know there will be some parents reading this for their kids, and there will be people (maybe kids) reading this without their parents knowing. Therefore, I want to make a couple of things really, really, super clear. There are things that I won't do, and things I will make sure to do.
I'm not going to "fix" someone who is LGBTQ
I won't try to convince your kid that they aren't gay, trans, bisexual, nonbinary, or anything else I may be asked to persuade them to believe. In fact, statistics show that this almost always has some serious negative, long-term effects for people. And, it's honestly the opposite of what counseling is.
I won't tell a parent what a teen has said about their gender or sexuality
Potential long-term problems can happen when a person is outed by others. So, I won't share anything about a kid's gender identity or sexual orientation that I'm not asked by that kid to share. People like to come out in their own way. Sometimes they want help, and sometimes they don't.
I will help parents and families process their own emotions
I will work with parents and families who want to support their kids. I'll work with families if they are experiencing fear, loss, or confusion in regards to their child's sexuality or gender identity. These are all common things parents feel, and it's normal to take time to adjust. I will support parents who just need support in order to best support their child.
I will support and even advocate for you
If you've made it this far on this page, you're probably wanting help for yourself or your kid, and that's what I'm here for. Plenty of research shows that support is one of the most valuable things we can offer to LGBTQ+ youth. It is also one of the most detrimental things for them to be without.
Finally, I will fight for you. Whatever that means. For example, I will assist you with IEP meetings, advocating on your behalf, and helping you get support in different areas of life. As an LGBTQ+ affirming counselor, I've got your back.
What to expect from LGBTQ+ Affirming Therapy in the Franklin & Brentwood Area
I’m pretty laid back in counseling (so is my doggy assistant, Edge). I realize serious things are obviously going to come up in counseling, but if you don't want “all serious, all the time,” and that’s cool too. Therapy looks different for everyone because we’re all unique and have different things we need and want. It’s important to me that you feel like you’re getting what you need here. So, I’ll check with you every now and then on that. Also, you’re always welcome to let me know what you need without me checking.
I know you may or may not be coming in for something directly related to sexuality or gender identity. But, if that is a part of why you’re coming in, you’re welcome to indicate your gender on my forms, use your name and pronouns. You can truly identify yourself the way you are, not necessarily the way you may have been assigned. I’m here for the real you. And if you’re questioning who you are, it’s cool. We’re all figuring out ourselves as we get further along in life. The bottom line, I believe in supporting you and helping you in the ways you want to be helped.
In Counseling, I Will Help You Work Through Your Problems
In my experience as a therapist, I’ve seen that figuring out where problems started (the root causes) and sorting through those things have the most long-lasting benefits.
That said, you may not need that, especially not at first. You may be dealing with issues that cropped up after coming out, whether coming out was on purpose or not. There may have been something else that was scary, or dangerous, or just bad that happened to you lately. In counseling, you’ve got the space to talk about those things, and we’ll address them together.
In any case, we can definitely look at calming and coping skills so you can have quicker relief. Or, you may have already been given a toolbox full of coping techniques to use. That's cool, but, I feel like you deserve lasting change. I don't think you should necessarily have to use a different coping skill every time you're struggling.
Finally, it helps to just get things out. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, society has given us the message that we’re not supposed to talk about feelings or our beliefs. All that uncomfortable stuff is okay to talk about here. When we hold it all in, push it down, carry around the weight of it, it generally doesn’t go well. Ultimately, it will eventually come out, but usually not in a way that’s going to have a great ending. Stress is heavy stuff. So, in counseling, I’ll help you get that stuff out in a way that’s going to work for you and help you feel better.
I want you to feel comfortable just being yourself. So, I'll provide you with a place where you can feel safe and welcome while you do that.
As an “LGBTQ+ affirming” therapist, I believe it’s important to have your back in ways that go beyond counseling. So, let me tell you about a couple of ways that I like to get out and help outside my office. At the moment, I volunteer with the Tennessee Equality Project, advocating for laws that value and promote equality in Tennessee.
Also, I'm a member of PFLAG Franklin. We're a diverse group of LGBTQ+ folx, parents, families, friends, and allies united with LGBTQ+ people. I keep pamphlets about these groups in my waiting room if you need one.
To sum everything up, I feel like you deserve a place where you can just be you. I focus on providing that for you in my counseling office. And, I actively try to create a world where you can be you every day.
Begin LGBTQ+ Affirming Therapy in Franklin, TN
Whatever you may be struggling with right now, things can get better. I'm here to help in any way that I can.
To begin counseling in Franklin, TN, follow these simple steps:
Other Counseling Services Provided by Cody and Edge
We offer a few different mental health services at our Franklin, TN counseling office. Cody and Edge offer Counseling for Young Adults, Counseling for Teens, Walk + Talk Therapy, and Group Therapy for Teen Girls. We also provide online therapy to Tenessee residents.