Finding the right therapist is no easy task. When you are not feeling your best, this can often feel insurmountable. You are not alone. This new series from the Young Adult Council will share the experiences of other DBSA community members who have been there, too.

I was feeling very small and powerless. I was lonely.; I was depressed. And I needed to talk to someone.

The therapist opened the door and invited me to step into his office. And on the way in, he kicked aside a stuffed rabbit from his play area.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “This isn’t going to work.” And I left. The lack of compassion he had shown to the rabbit was all I needed to know that he wasn’t going to be able to help me.

I have struggled on the journey to finding the right therapist for a long time. I have a very particular list of needs to feel safe in a therapeutic alliance. The most important is a therapist who is willing to admit when they don’t understand what I’m talking about. Rather than pretend to be an expert on gender dysphoria or psychotic features, I need a therapist who will do no harm and say, “I don’t know anything about that. Let me do some research and get back to you,” rather than a therapist who will give advice willy-nilly based on hunches, without really understanding the issues at hand.

In addition, I like my therapists to be a little bit on the older side (so that I know they have experienced enough diverse issues to have some context when talking to me). They need to be queer-friendly, not just because I’m queer, but also because I wouldn’t want to see someone who isn’t an ally to the LGBT community. People should be seen as people, first and foremost, and a therapist who would drop a client who is gay is not someone I can confide in or trust.

Finding the right therapist is difficult. I know this because I haven’t been able to do it. At times I have gotten really, really close. But I’m still waiting for that perfect person—that one and only puzzle piece that will complete me in all of the ways I need to be completed. I don’t believe you should compromise on your needs list for any reason. You can see someone, for now, to get by, but I think it’s important to keep looking for “the one.”

Just as with a romantic partner, it is important to find someone who dazzles you—someone you’re proud to be with. Someone who gets you and listens to you and respects you. Someone with whom you can be your best self. Everybody deserves that special someone. And it is a little bit like dating. You put yourself out there. You open up. You learn. And you grow. You deserve to be seen. You deserve to be heard. You deserve to be you.