Maybe you’re someone who really wants to find a gay or gay-affirmative therapist, but you don’t live near a major city and you can’t drive to one without traveling a long distance.
You want to talk to a gay therapist who really “gets you” from the start, without your having to make apologies, explain the basics, or defend yourself for who you are. (Far too many straight therapists who are “gay friendly” are well-intentioned, but they actually don’t know what they don’t know, about gay men (or also HIV)).
Maybe you live in a big city, but that’s the challenge: slogging through urban traffic to get to a brick-and-mortar office takes more time than you can afford in your busy work schedule. You want online counseling for gay men.
For people who live in major urban centers such as Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, etc., finding a gay-affirmative therapist is relatively easy. Finding a gay men’s specialist therapist, however, is more rare, even in places like these. Outside of these urban centers, finding therapists who are truly “culturally competent” in serving gay men is relatively rare. You are much more likely to find the highly-unethical, religious bigot therapists who promote “reparative” therapy, also known as “sexual orientation change efforts” or even therapists who try to “help” clients who have “unwanted same-sex attractions”, which is really just religious-based bigotry wrapped in junk science. When you’re surrounded by these kinds of charlatans, it can be a very isolating experience.
But you have options. With today’s technologies, you can access a gay therapist more quickly and easily than ever before. If you feel a need to be close to a gay-affirmative therapist in a confidential, professional relationship, but you’re not really close to a gay-affirmative therapist in terms of physical proximity, connecting with someone who can help is as close as your phone, iPad, laptop, or desktop.
At GayTherapyLA, Ken Howard, LCSW and his clinical associates offer counseling/psychotherapy to clients all over California (where our staff is licensed, or license-eligible state-registered interns/associates), and coaching/consultation to clients outside of California. We can explain the differences in these services when we talk.
The same knowledge, skill, and caring that you receive in-person at GayTherapyLA’s offices in Los Angeles are available with your online or mobile device, in full-length sessions, to help you get the help and support you need, regardless of the issues you want to talk about.
But you still might have questions…
Is online counseling or coaching secure?
Yes, and no. In the age of cell phones, cordless phones, and online communication, it’s impossible to guarantee the exact same confidentiality you might have in a sound-proofed room in a brick-and-mortar office, as all online services and communication devices can be hacked by the right (or rather, wrong) people. But thousands of people without access to an in-person therapist who serves their niche, problem, or community rely on phone (FaceTime) or Skype services to do the work they want to do, to resolve their challenges and reach their goals.
How do I pay for online services?
You have options for the payment of session fees, at your convenience. GayTherapyLA accepts credit cards via Square (the iPhone app for credit card processing) and through PayPal or Venmo. In California, services could be reimbursable by your insurance plan, as long as you have a PPO (no HMO) health insurance plan, and we can provide a completed receipt for this purpose with all the information your health plan needs to process the claim for reimbursing you at least a portion of your session fee (Sorry, but we cannot provide insurance receipts for coaching/consultation outside of California, as these services are not covered by any health plan).
Do we get the same, full sessions as your in-person clients?
Yes, all sessions are 45-50 minutes in length. In some cases, such as crisis, longer sessions are available at pro-rated rates. (We do not offer half-sessions or sessions shorter than the standard 45-50 minute hour.)
Are online services as effective as in-person services?
This is still being studied these days, but there is considerable research that says “yes.” In our experience, online sessions are at least as effective, if not even more so, than in-person sessions, because you are communicating from your home or other familiar, comfortable setting for you. You’re not “rattled” by fighting traffic on the way to the office, or having to find parking. There is even an enhanced “intimacy” to online sessions, being face-to-face. We do lose some nuance from not being able to share body language, but it’s our experience that the quality and effectiveness of online and in-person sessions are quite comparable.
How are coaching/consultation services from you different from other life coaches?
Receiving “life coaching” services from someone who is not also a Master’s-level, trained clinician can be risky proposition. Currently, “life coaching” as such is not licensed or regulated in any state. Anyone can be a “life coach” with no license, no higher education, no supervision, no license exams, no supervised clinical practicum experience, no mandated continuing education, no state oversight, and no recourse in the event of malpractice or malfeasance. This is likely to change in the years ahead, in order to protect consumers in many or all states. The “coach certification” programs and “credentials” you hear about are given out by private entities; anyone can “certify” coaches, and this is not a state oversight or a legal recognition. However, by getting coaching/consultation from the staff at GayTherapyLA, you’re receiving services either from a state-licensed psychotherapist, or from a license-eligible associate clinician who has completed a Master’s degree in clinical social work or psychology, who attends mandatory annual continuing education, who is clinically supervised by a licensed therapist, and who is a member of at least one professional association for therapists, and adheres to its Code of Ethics.
What is the difference between therapy and coaching?
There are many answers to this question, and they vary greatly according to what evidence-based practice “theoretical orientation” or “school of thought” the therapist practices (which means their techniques have been shown through formal research to have positive patient outcomes, and is not just made-up hokum or charlatanism). Some people say therapy focuses on helping you resolve issues from your past, and coaching helps you plan positive goals for the future, but this actually NOT correct. Many schools of thought in therapy, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (the favorite technique used at GayTherapyLA), Positive Psychology, Problem-Solving Therapy (PST), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) focus on the here-and-now, and help you embrace a positive future. But to be reimbursed by a health insurance plan, you must be given a standard diagnosis. Coaching is less formal in some ways, does not include a diagnosis, and often includes more direct advice and even “accountability” to work toward your goals, but this can vary with each practitioner. However, at GayTherapyLA, there is much overlap in style, as we are always supporting you in making short-term and long-term goals in helping you improve your quality of life, right now and for your future.
Unique Qualifications of GayTherapyLA’s Online Services
GayTherapyLA is the only national gay men’s specialty group practice that includes both in-person and online services from gay men’s specialist staff trained in psychiatric clinical social work and psychology with specialized training in gay men’s and LGBT issues, from both the University of Southern California School of Social Work, and from Antioch University and their special LGBT-specialization curriculum. Ken Howard, LCSW has over 24 years experience as a specialist in serving gay men, and other staff are also gay specialists. All staff operate from evidence-based practice models rooted in sound clinical research known to support positive treatment outcomes, such as CBT, DBT, IPT, and psychodynamic therapies. We do not use any treatment model that has not been vetted by formal clinical outcomes research, such as “sex addiction treatment”, “partner betrayal treatment”, “crystals”, “aromatherapy”, or similar casual, “trendy” techniques. Our staff has attended formal, accredited academic institutions of higher education, such as the University of Southern California, University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA), and Antioch University. In this way, you are guaranteed service from clinicians who are formally trained, state licensed (or license-eligible), and culturally-competent specialists in working with gay men, wherever you are.
If you would like to learn more information on how our services can help you, call Ken Howard, LCSW, GayTherapyLA’s Founder and Clinical Director, at 310-339-5778 or email Ken@GayTherapyLA.com. You can have a free, 15-minute phone consultation, and make an appointment that’s convenient for you in your time zone. We offer services 7 days a week, mornings, afternoons, and evenings.