Gaylesta, The LGBT Psychotherapy Association, was founded in 1987, established as an unincorporated association in 1988, and incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1997. Since this beginning, Gaylesta has grown to include over 200 mental health professionals. To our knowledge, we are the oldest and largest collection of individuals focused on LGBTQ mental health. Our membership collectively offers a range of services, experience, specializations, and expertise.
We work to promote awareness of the special skills our members have to offer the LGBTQ communities and the general public. We do this through an online referral service through which our members can market their practices, as well as through community.outreach; advertising; and public speaking.
Beyond serving as a resource for those seeking therapy, we see ourselves as having a role in fostering the well-being of the LGBTQ communities. For more details about this aspect of our organization, see the News section of our site.
- To promote awareness of mental health issues specific to the LGBTQ communities
- To provide value to the community through the services of our members
- To promote awareness among mental health workers of cross-cultural issues such as race/ethnicity, age, ability, nationality, sexual orientation, gender, and class
- To promote the practices and careers of our members
- To develop an exchange of information relating to the field of mental health within the LGBTQ communities
- To provide opportunities for social and professional interaction among our members and within the larger mental health community.
Our Services Include:
- Seminars, Consultations, and Speakers offered by members on such LBGTQ-related topics as homophobia, coming out, gay marriage, HIV/AIDS, alternative families, parenting, gender identity, S/M/B/D, as well as how anxiety and depression affect our community
- A Referral Service for community members looking for an LGBTQ therapist to meet their specific needs. Both a telephone consultation and/or an on-line search are available
- Annual fundraising events for LGBTQ service provider organizations
- Maintaining a presence at many community events.
Promoting LGBTQ Mental Health
We understand how internalized homophobia and transphobia often makes coming out an intensely stressful and confusing process. These beliefs may make LGBTQ people more apt to blame themselves for their distress. Under these circumstances, therapy can be an especially vulnerable place for those working on LGBT-related issues. Those entering therapy should feel that they are in a safe environment, working with professionals who are free of damaging societal biases. We work to educate therapists outside our community so all clinicians can be sensitive and aware of the issues involved when someone comes to them with concerns about their sexual orientation or gender identity. For more about our organization’s position regarding ethical therapeutic guidelines and sexual orientation change therapy (also known as “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy”), click on this link.
Fighting for Social Justice For Our Community
Our mandate to promote the mental health of our community is not limited to what we provide our clients directly in the therapy room. We understand the impact that prejudice, discrimination and social injustice have on the well-being of our community, individually and collectively. To that end, we are working in coalition with other LGBTQ and mental health organizations to challenge homophobia, promote the acceptance of alternative families, and fight for social and legal recognition of our intimate relationships.
Some of the work we have been involved in recently:
- Produced the “Queer Families = Healthy Families” conference on LGBTQ parenting, on October 11, 2008. Co-sponsored with other San Francisco organizations working to support our families.
- Filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in January 2009 as part of the legal action to repeal Proposition 8 in California. We argued in that brief that denying same-sex couples and families equal protection under the law is damaging to their mental health. To see the complete text of this brief, please click here.
- Formed California Therapists for Marriage Equality (CTME) in January 2009 with mental health professionals throughout California to urge CAMFT (California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists) to take a stand supporting marriage equality. At that point, CAMFT was the only significant professional organization of psychotherapists that had failed to issue a statement supporting LGBTQ rights and the repeal of Proposition 8. To see the text of this letter, click here. CTME succeeded in getting CAMFT to issue a statement supporting marriage and family equality in September 2009. Gaylesta members have taken an active role in educating mental health professionals on LGBTQ issues. The May/June issue of CAMFT’s clinical publication, The Therapist, included two articles by Gaylesta members. To see these articles, click here and here.
- On February 3rd, 2010, Gaylesta and CTME filed an amicus brief, with 10 other psychotherapy groups signing on, in the current court case to repeal Proposition 8. This brief argues that denying marriage to same-sex couples doesn’t impact heterosexual couples while it does harm the welfare of children of same-sex parents. Furthermore, there is no evidence that heterosexual parents are better parents than same-sex couples. For the full text of this brief, please click here.
- Further examples of our ongoing activism in promoting LGBTQ mental health will be posted as they develop, so check back to remain up-to-date on our activities.
Explore Our Site
We want you to become familiar with who we are and what we offer! Use the navigation options at the right to learn about joining, events, and locating a therapist. We hope to help you find the services you need, or to see you soon at one of our events for members.
If you are in Southern California rather than in the Bay Area, please explore the site of our colleagues in The Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association of Los Angeles (LAGPA).