Last Updated on July 23rd, 2018
It’s no secret that the LGBTQ community has been stigmatized as having higher rates of mental health issues. What many people don’t understand is what it’s like to experience disapproving glances and contemptuous remarks (and that’s on a good day), oftentimes from complete strangers. It’s no wonder that LGBTQ youth are four times as likely to commit suicide than heterosexuals. So if you’re part of the LGBTQ community and are looking for mental health assistance, you’ve come to the right place. Pride Counseling understood the issues at hand, both from a psychological and financial standpoint. As such, they created a platform specifically for the LGBTQ community – a place where you can receive professional therapy sessions at a very affordable rate.
Even given the above information, people have a hard time understanding what LGBTQ individuals experience on a daily basis. Or that more than 50% of the transgender population experience depression or anxiety. While the staff at Pride Counseling may not be part of the LGBTQ community themselves, they understood the horrifying statistics and the need for counseling in this specific area. As such, every one of the Pride Counseling therapists specialize in LGBTQ counseling. One thing that should be noted is that the counselors part of this service don’t only specialize in the LGBTQ community; it is in fact open to all identities and areas of mental health issues. If you happen to be part of the LGBTQ community but are really looking to beat your depression, this is exactly what Pride Counseling does.
Signing up for Pride Counseling looks a lot like other online therapy services. However, the initial survey is very different as you might imagine. General questions are part of it (such as what is your age, relationship status, or if you’ve ever been in therapy before, etc.), however they are interested in getting the most information possible in order to match you with the right therapist for your specific needs. Questions such as “How do you identify?” “What are your pronouns?” and “What is your orientation?” are all questions you should expect to answer.
Pride Counseling Getting Started Survey
Essentially speaking, Pride Counseling is looking for a “complete picture breakdown” from you. It’s not just about how you identify or what your orientation is, but also what the status of your physical and mental state are. After you finish the approximately 20 question questionnaire, you will need to create your own private account. You can use an alias when signing up, but make sure to provide an email account you actually use. That’s because Pride Counseling will send you a 3-digit verification code in order to confirm your account. Once that’s complete, you are able to choose what type of counselor you’d prefer (male, female, type of experience, etc.).
Pride Counseling Counselor Preference
This entire sign up process, from start to finish, will not take you more than 5 minutes. Thereafter, you are led to the payment page.
Pride Counseling does something very unique in regard to payment, at least compared to other online therapy services. Aside from BetterHelp, I’m fairly certain that Pride Counseling is the only other service that offers a free trial (which is 7 days – enough to see if the service is right for you). Getting to therapy was hard enough; the free trial offer was what helped me sign up for this service. As long as you cancel within the 7 free days, you won’t be charged for using their platform. Thereafter, Pride Counseling charges $65 per week for unlimited chat, phone and/or video-based therapy for the first 3 months. If you use it for longer than 3 months, the price drops to $45 per week.
Pride Counseling Payment Page
This is one of the most competitive offers on the market compared to other online therapy services. Also, keep in mind that in-office treatment can cost up to $300 per session! Even with co-pay, I was looking at a fee of around $75 per session. Pride Counseling was offering me $45/week for unlimited therapy. For a service that specializes in the LGBTQ community, I believe it’s well worth the price.
Usability (Desktop & Mobile):
Once you have completed payment, you are then led to your secured chat room. If you have any experience with chat-based services (WhatsApp, Skype, any instant messaging service, etc.), Pride Counseling will be very easy to use. Even if you have no experience with technology, your chat room is extremely intuitive as can be seen below.
Pride Counseling Private Chat Room
It’s a standard messaging system, with your therapist’s messages above and your personal chat box below. On mobile, it’s virtually the same, just simply projected on a smaller screen. You can scroll through previous messages if you’d like and even attach various files from your computer in order to communicate over chat more efficiently. If that doesn’t work, you can always schedule a live session – via phone or video – located at the bottom of the chat room. Simply pick a date and click on ‘Book.’ If that’s not a good time for your therapist, they will let you know and you’ll schedule for another time. Once a time is agreed upon, your therapist will prompt you to start the phone or video session, which will be through the Pride Counseling platform instead of a third-party service like Skype. In my opinion, this is great not only because it’s located in an all-in-one place but for security/privacy reasons as well.
Lastly, another thing that is great about Pride Counseling is that you don’t need to be connected to the platform at all times. As long as you have an internet connection, you will always be up to date on incoming messages. Pride Counseling sends email notifications straight to your personal email inbox informing you of a new message from your therapist. The overall ease of use of Pride Counseling is fantastic all-around.
Pride Counseling – Email Message from Karen
Counselor Support & Effectiveness:
Before I get into the effectiveness of this service, it should be noted that this is completely subjective. There will always be people who have varying results from any type of therapy – online or in-office. For me, using an online therapy platform was new. It was nerve racking considering I always shied away from any kind of therapy. But, it also provided me with a level of comfort because I could use an alias and didn’t need to show my face/emotions to someone I wasn’t familiar with. At first, it was almost like being part of a community-based chat room (circa AOL 1996). Nevertheless, I still had many reservations.
Thankfully, I was paired with Karen Armstrong who completely dispelled my fears from day one. Apparently, most therapists understand that technology is disrupting their industry and thus many have moved to online platforms like Pride Counseling. So, it turned out I’m not just a guinea pig! This certainly contributed to my willingness to open up to Karen, as it was made clear that thousands of people are treated online.
Being Paired with Karen
Lastly and most importantly, Karen is a true professional. She has primarily worked with the LGBTQ community for many years already (25 years). She’s exceptionally good at listening, being non-judgmental, insightful and supportive. Most of the issues I was experiencing were with my family and this turned out to be a good thing because aside from helping the LGBTQ community, Karen has extensive knowledge and experience in helping families overcome their emotional and behavioral problems. Even though my immediate family wasn’t part of my therapy sessions, I was able to change most of my behavioral patterns which made an instant impact on my overall quality of life. It turned out that simple communication barriers were responsible for most of my issues. By empowering me with the necessary knowledge and providing me with simple tasks to change my own conduct, Karen truly saved my family relationship. And, this also extended to other relationships outside of my family. Overall, not only was I surprised by the effectiveness but also by the level of intimacy provided by Karen.
Confidentiality & Privacy:
The thing I initially loved most about Pride Counseling is the ‘alias’ feature. With all of the security issues online, it’s hard for me to do pretty much anything online – shopping, banking, etc. Therapy is supposed to be one of the most confidential parts of someone’s life. In my opinion, there is no comparison of online shopping to therapy. I don’t want my name to be potentially exposed in the future. Why take that risk? Unless, there is a safe option. In comes Pride Counseling. You don’t need to use your real name or even a real email address. I set up a fake email address and name, which I still use to this day (although by now Karen knows my real name – it took a few weeks for me to fully open up to her). This was a massive confidence booster for me and is what ultimately led me to use this service.
Creating a Private Account
As for privacy concerns: like any therapist, Pride Counseling is subject to strict local and federal laws – HIPAA to name one. Also, their site and my personal chat box is encrypted by 256-bit encryption, which is the same level of security as any financial institution. And, even in the unlikely event of a hack, the Pride Counseling databases are also SSL encrypted and scrambled which renders the data completely useless to hackers. No one at Pride Counseling has access to the secured chat room – this is only accessible by you and your therapist. Your therapist is also subject to these local and federal laws so there is no concern there either. Essentially speaking, I have found there to be no concern regarding privacy, confidentiality or security which is saying a lot given my reservations about online security on a whole.
Pride Counseling’s Counselor Qualifications:
As per the Pride Counseling website, every one of their therapists are licensed, trained, experienced and accredited. They range from PhDs/PsyDs to LMFTs, LCSWs, LMSWs, or LPCs. Every one of them holds either a Masters Degree or a Doctorate in their field of training. They have all been qualified by their state board and they hold at least 3 years and 2,000 hours of hands-on experience (not just theory and intern-level certification). Most importantly, every one of the Pride Counseling therapists specialize in providing counseling to the LGBTQ community. In fact, if you go through their therapists profiles, you will see that many of them state ‘LGBTQ’ as one of their first areas of experience.
Specialties & Areas of Expertise:
If you are part of the LGBTQ community and are looking for an online therapy solution, look no further than Pride Counseling. Yes, it is true that other platforms help with the LGBTQ community. Betterhelp is a good example of that. However, it’s not the focal point of their service. Pride Counseling was specifically built to help our community. But what’s truly great about this platform is that they help in many other areas, such as the ones listed below:
- All Addictions
- Chronic Impulsivity
- Educational Assessments
- Life Transitions
- Social Behavior
- Substance Abuse
- Trauma & Abuse
For many people, there are likely several issues that they are dealing with. As I identify as part of the LGBTQ community, this was the driving force behind my decision to use Pride Counseling. However, I was also dealing with family issues while battling moderate depression and anxiety – three areas that the counselors help with.
The level of professionalism and intimate support was truly a pleasant surprise. The usability was well above average and allowed me to correspond with a therapist at my own pace and wherever I was. And, the level of security and privacy offered by Pride Counseling put my fears to rest. After all, the ability to stay completely anonymous was what pushed me to sign up for this service (in addition to the 7-day free trial which was a nice added benefit). If you are on the fence about joining this program, give it a shot, at least for 7 days. There is literally nothing to lose and everything, including your happiness, to gain.