Ace/Aro Competent Professionals

Finding a therapist that understands asexuality and aromanticism can sometimes be challenging. To help with aces and aros (or those questioning), we've compiled a list of therapists within the Greater Vancouver area (and beyond) that have answered questions about asexuality and aromanticism. 

If you already have a doctor/counsellor and want to explain asexuality to them, you can send them to this pdf. For therapists looking to learn about aromanticism, this video gives an overview of caring for aromantic clients in therapeutic settings. 

If you have a suggestion for a therapist or doctor that should be added to the list, or if you would like to be added to the list, email ericajmulder@gmail.com.  

Counsellors

Laura Guenzel


Can you briefly describe the asexual and aromantic spectrums?

The asexual and aromantic spectrums refer to a wide range of identities that encompass differing experiences of sexual or romantic attraction, interest, or desire. For example, an asexual person might experience little to no sexual attraction, and a demiromantic person might only experience romantic feelings towards someone after developing a strong bond. There are many reasons why someone may come to an ace or aro identity, and this can vary from person to person even when they use the same label to describe themselves.


Could you describe what your therapeutic approach might entail when working with ace and aro clients?

My approach when working with ace and aro clients looks the same as my approach with any other client. I find that most of my ace and aro clients want to work on or discuss other aspects of their life without being pathologized or otherwise getting unwanted attention around their ace or aro identity and experiences. I take an anti-oppressive approach to my work, and I find it important to name when compulsory sexuality and amatonormativity are impacting a client, regardless of identity.


How are you continuously learning about asexuality and aromanticism? Which of those sources are led by ace/aro people?

As an aroace person myself, I am typically pretty connected with my community. I really value learning about other aro and ace people’s experiences, as every aro and/or ace person is different, and I think it is important to not see us as a monolith.


Describe some of the systemic oppression that ace and aro people might face. How might that interact with other forms of oppression?

Some of the specific forms of oppression aro and ace people face include compulsory sexuality, amatonormativity, and singlism. Ace and aro people also experience intersecting oppressions. For example, a lot of anti-ace sentiment is driven by ableism, which posits that there is a “right” way to have a body, which includes a sexual response that looks a particular way. This can be complicated for disabled aces, as disabled folks are often seen as not having sexual agency, and popular narratives that push back against this often leave out the fact that disabled aces exist. Similar connections can be made for other forms of oppression, such as racism and cisheterosexism.

Matsui De Roo


Can you briefly describe the asexual and aromantic spectrums?

Asexual and aromantic spectrums represent a wide range of identities and experiences, in which an individual's attraction to other people is primarily based on emotional, mental, aesthetic, or sensual (physical connection such as hugging and handholding) attraction and less so on sexual attraction (for asexual people) or romantic attraction (for aromantic people). Asexual people may still experience romantic attraction, and aromantic people may still experience sexual attraction. Some people are both asexual and aromantic.


Could you describe what your therapeutic approach might entail when working with ace and aro clients?

I work from an anti-oppression approach, which recognizes the harm done by systemic oppression and seeks to de-pathologise and celebrate ace and aro identities and experiences. 


How are you continuously learning about asexuality and aromanticism? Which of those sources are led by ace/aro people?

I prioritize learning from ace/aro people, which includes reading articles and books, following on social media, and nurturing ongoing connections with ace and aro chosen family, friends and colleagues As a therapist with areas of focus in sex, gender and relationship counselling, I recognize that the vast majority of the research done in these areas is biased against asexuality and aromanticism, so any learning done from these sources is unpacked and examined for assumptions and biases.


Describe some of the systemic oppression that ace and aro people might face. 

Amatonoromativity (the assumption that all people pursue romantic relationships, with long term monogamous relationships being privileged as superior to other kinds) is baked into every level of our society. This leads to systemic oppression in everything from societal and familial expectations, to medical and mental health care, to legal conventions, and much more. Some examples include challenges to authentically and safely representing ace and aro identities and relationships when navigating bureaucratic systems including social assistance and disability benefits, immigration applications, tax returns and medical service plans; accessing medical and mental care where providers may pathologise or fail to understand ace/aro identities; constant exposure to media that presents romantic and sexual relationships as the best or only valid options; and interpersonal challenges with individuals who deny, dismiss, devalue or fail to understand ace and aro identities. 


How might that interact with other forms of oppression? 

When ace and aro people hold other identities that are subject to oppression, experiences of discrimination and marginalization become amplified. There are often additional complexities within these intersections, such as the experience of an ace/aro person of colour who is also sexualized due to racism.


Carsen Farmer


Can you briefly describe the asexual and aromantic spectrums?

One spectrum has Asexual on one end and Allosexual on the other end.  Some asexuals, on the far end of the spectrum, have never experienced any form of sexual attraction in their lives. Many people who identify as asexual are not only on the far pole, but are also in-between the two poles, and may use terms such as grey-ace or demisexual to identify themselves.  These folks may experience sexual attraction under particular circumstances or with particular people, but do not generally experience sexual attraction.  Asexuals may have normal sexual functioning (or not) and may choose to engage in sexual activity for a variety of reasons (or not) including sexual activities with others or with themselves.  Another spectrum would have aromantic on one end and romantic on the other end.  Some folks in the middle may identify as aromantic (or aro) but may have some romantic feelings in some circumstances.


Could you describe what your therapeutic approach might entail when working with ace and aro clients?

I would apply any of my usual therapeutic approaches (IFS, Narrative Therapy, CBT, Gottman Method Couples Counselling, etc.) that I would use with the general population.  However, I would ask these clients what being aro or ace means to them, and I would be prepared to discuss how this may be affecting their relationships, sense of self, connection to their bodies, etc.  I would approach them with openness and curiosity about how being on these spectrums shows up uniquely for them.  I wouldn't assume that these identities are a problem that needs to be fixed in some way, but I would recognize that sometimes these identities are not well understood by the general public, which can create stigma and prejudice.  Sometimes challenges can occur when ace/aro and allosexual/alloromantic people are together in a partnership, and I would help clients talk through navigating this. I might also draw on Relationship Anarchy, which does not privilege sexual or romantic relationships over other types of relationships.


How are you continuously learning about asexuality and aromanticism? Which of those sources are led by ace/aro people?

AVEN (asexuality.org) is a go-to website.  I use it when I teach about asexuality in my college and university counselling classes.  I learn from my clients and friends who are on these spectrums, and read articles and blogs when they come my way or when I am updating my teaching materials.  I know there are a few books on asexuality out there (such as Refusing Compulsory Sexuality, and Ace Voices) that I have not yet read, but would be valuable resources to explore.


Describe some of the systemic oppression that ace and aro people might face. How might that interact with other forms of oppression? 

The assumption that all people are sexual and romantic and that everyone should want to find sexual and/or romantic connections is rampant in our culture.  This assumption devalues friendships and other nonsexual relationships, privileges relationship escalators, and emphasizes couple dynamics as being of primary importance.  Some people may avoid getting close to aro/ace people because they are not perceived as eligible dating partners, or may avoid getting into partnerships with them because it seems too complicated or difficult.


Lucy Snider


Can you briefly describe the asexual and aromantic spectrums? 

Asexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by a persistent pattern of little or no sexual attraction toward anyone. Asexuality exists on a spectrum and the spectrum is very diverse.  Some identify as gray-asexual meaning somewhere within a “gray area” that people identify with for different reasons (including ambiguity). Some identify as demisexual, meaning that they can only develop sexual attraction to people with whom they already have a strong emotional bond. Sexual attraction is difficult to define, especially by people who do not experience it, so a broader interpretation of the definition serves us better than gatekeeping. Many feel they may not meet the strictest definition, yet still find themselves closer to asexual than anything else, or otherwise find the concept useful.


Aromanticism is a romantic orientation, which describes people whose experience of romance is disconnected from normative societal expectations, commonly due to experiencing little to no romantic attraction, but also may be due to feeling repulsed by romance, or being uninterested in romantic relationships. Most aromantic people don’t fall in love. They may or may not enjoy activities that are often seen as romantic (e.g. kissing), be uncomfortable with romance, be single , have one or more partners, or be married - those are individual characteristics that vary between aromantic people. Again, aromantic exists on a diverse spectrum, and may include gray-aromantic, or demiromantic, which describes a person who only experiences romantic attraction after developing an emotional connection, to name a few.


Asexual and aromantic do not have to exist together. A person may be asexual but not aromantic, or vice versa, neither, or both.


Asexual and aromantic isn’t:  


Could you describe what your therapeutic approach might entail when working with ace and aro clients?

I work primarily with relationships and sexual concerns in therapy. I also provide gender affirming care and sexual health support. I provide a safe, non-judgemental space for clients to freely explore these sensitive issues as well as practical help and support. I work in a holistic, sex positive way with all clients regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age or disability. In therapy, I work from a psychodynamic lens, as well as a trauma informed perspective. 


How are you continuously learning about asexuality and aromanticism? Which of those sources are led by ace/aro people?

I took the Ace and Aro Affirming Practice Webinar by Laura Guenzel Counselling & Consulting on 22nd March 2024. I have watched the Aromantic Competent Care Webinar on YouTube and read various online resources such as asexualsurvivors.org, aromanticism.org, aromanticguide.com, aroworlds.com and arospecweek.org and books such as Chen, A., (2021). Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex. Beacon Press and Brown, S. J., (2022). Refusing Compulsory Sexuality: A Black Asexual Lens on Our Sex-Obsessed Culture. North Atlantic Books.


Describe some of the systemic oppression that ace and aro people might face. How might that interact with other forms of oppression?

We live in a heternormative, cisnormative, monogonormative, amatonormative world. People who don't fit into these boxes often face struggles and difficulties with their mental health by constantly being told they are "wrong" or "broken". Similarly, we live in a hypersexed world where there are many assumptions about sex, including that everyone loves sex and that a "healthy" relationship cannot exist without sex. It is not uncommon for ACE patients to feel distress about being asexual, be misdiagnosed with HSDD or FSIAD or for therapists and doctors to view asexuality as a symptom. As mental health professionals, we can avoid reinforcing coercion and compulsory sexuality. Sex and romantic relationships are not a necessary component of a healthy and happy life.

Additional Therapists

The following therapists have not yet answered the questions above. However, they have either been recommended by local aces and aros who’ve had good experiences, reached out to be on the list or have been recommended to us by other counsellors. 

Tricia Teeft referral.psychologists.bc.ca/user/37671

Sam Kaplan www.expressivewellness.ca/sam.html

Lori Finklea www.lorifinkleacounselling.com

Lu Lam www.lulam.ca

Vanessa Fernando www.vanessafernando.com

Daley Laing www.fireseedfacilitation.org/about-daley

Bridgid McGowan www.bridgidmcgowan.com 

Edward Sandberg edwardsandberg.com

Cora Bilsker www.nestedheartcounselling.com/practitioners/cora-bilsker

Rena Iwasaki www.jerichocounselling.com/counsellors/rena-iwasaki/

Roya Vojdani https://royavojdani.com/


Doctors and Specialists

Dr. Langner