Clinic consultation

Gay-focused mental health clinic in PEI. offers a free service

CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI — Alice Curitz has heard the stories of queer Islanders. She heard about how the health care system in Prince Edward Island fails them, that it is not designed to meet unique needs.

As a queer mental health professional, Curitz is ambitious to help fill these gaps.

That’s why she launched Our Landing Place, a gay-centric online therapy clinic, in January 2021.

Over the next year, the organization grew from Curitz working alone to a total of nine clinicians, all offering free therapy online, Curitz said.

“We offer individual, couple and partner therapy, as well as family therapy. We run groups. We also organize numerous trainings and workshops to help mental health clinicians and organizations increase their capacity.

The issues queer Islanders face in health care settings are often rooted in a lack of “affirming care,” which refers to health care that understands issues like gender identity and does not pathologize gender. homosexuality, Curitz said.

“Affirming care is like not having to educate your therapist about what it means to be queer and trans, what your lived experience is, even some of the words that are used, or some assumptions.”

Our Landing Place, an organization based in Prince Edward Island, is a gay-centric online therapy clinic.  - Computer screenshot
Our Landing Place, an organization based in Prince Edward Island, is a gay-centric online therapy clinic. – Computer screenshot

Programming

Although Our Landing Place only had a soft launch on social media, 55 clients have already signed up since May 2022 and several have had consultation appointments.

Curitz secured funding from the government of Prince Edward Island for Our Landing Place, which will fund 1,000 clinician hours between March 2022 and March 2023, she said.

Our Landing Place also offers training and workshops for members of government.

“The community has yet to see changes that have actually reached the community.”

Alice Curitz

Curitz, who moderated a panel discussion on queer mental health services last July during the Pride Festival, said people working in government seemed engaged in the material she offers.

Yet the system is bogged down by bureaucracy and interest in learning has not translated into comprehensive action, Curitz added.

“The community has yet to see changes that have actually reached the community.”

While the programming offered by Curitz was an attempt to fill these gaps, it also recognized other organizations already operating in PEI.

Our Landing Place, a gay-centric online therapy clinic, also offers training and workshops for members of government.  - Screenshot
Our Landing Place, a gay-centric online therapy clinic, also offers training and workshops for members of government. – Screenshot


In one look

Here are some of the gay-oriented service organizations in PEI. that Alice Curitz recommends:

• PEERS Alliance

• BIPOC USHR

• PEI Transgender Network.

Source: Alice Curitz, Founder and Clinical Director of Our Landing Place


Additional services

Aly Inman, executive director of the PEI Transgender Network, was one of the people Curitz recommended SaltWire speak to.

Inman has worked with Curitz before and has confidence in her to do the job needed, he said. And there is a lot of work to do.

Inman has divided transgender health care into two broad age categories.

Children under 18 receive the least care, being referred only to pediatricians instead of mental health professionals. Adults receive slightly more services, but they largely face discrimination or denial from clinicians who see themselves as incapable of managing trans health, Inman said.

“So that’s where Our Landing Place comes in and has that experience, has the training and in some cases the lived experience, to deliver the service.”

In addition to the Transgender Network, Curitz also highlighted the PEERS Alliance, BIPOC USHR, and Gender Affirming Care Clinic as strong island resources.

But these programs all share an accessibility problem, she added. They are all based in Charlottetown.

Looking at the bigger picture, Curitz wants to continue supporting other organizations that are also on the ground and for Our Landing Place to become a permanent institution, she said.

“We don’t want this program to be a band-aid. Ideally, this program would continue, because we have the infrastructure, because we have the specialization.

Alice Curitz, Founder and Clinical Director of Our Landing Place, moderated a panel on queer health in the summer of 2021 during Pride Festival.  She started Our Landing Place to fill some of the gaps in the healthcare system.  - Logan MacLean • The Guardian - Logan MacLean
Alice Curitz, Founder and Clinical Director of Our Landing Place, moderated a panel on queer health in the summer of 2021 during Pride Festival. She started Our Landing Place to fill some of the gaps in the healthcare system. – Logan MacLean • The Guardian – Logan MacLean