Have you ever contacted a practitioner to inform them of who you are and received a reply that went something like, “Oh, that is not an area of specialty, of mine.” Here’s the thing: your identity, whatever it is comprised of according to you, is not what practitioners refer-to as specialties or non-specialties – they are multi-cultural components of human beings and required to be accepted and affirmed by every trained practitioner. And unless you are specifically requesting it, who you are is never a reason to refer you to someone else. Bottom line: ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual and relationship orientation, and identities of all kinds and descriptions are to be accepted by all practitioners, period. We call this Multicultural Competency. Now if you call requesting a counselor of a certain identity, or even requesting a counselor who has experience working with people of a specific identity type, then they have an obligation to inform you of their experience, and possibly advise you to refer to other practitioners. Be an informed counseling consumer: know that it is always the practitioner’s job to accept you for who you are; however you identify yourself, as priority number one! Non-judgment and compassionate listening are built into therapeutic process, based on trust. If a practitioner is not accepting of who you are by telling you that a piece of your revealed identity is not a specialty of theirs; rest assured, they are making who you are about them and their discomfort. This is no way to begin a therapeutic relationship and leaves little room for self-actualization and healing to occur. Make cultural competency a priority when searching for the right counselor! Be an informed consumer, even if it means making an extra phone call, reading between the lines, and asking a few extra questions. Your healing is worth it!