Justin Friel, LMFT
Justin Friel, LMFT
Who I Work With
I specialize in providing support to individuals facing challenges or difficulties with sexuality, spirituality, and relationships. If you find yourself weighed down by feelings of depression, if anxiety is a constant companion, or are caught in repetitive relationship patterns, I can help you navigate these hurdles. These hurdles can also be things like feeling stuck, at a loss for what direction to take your life, or just not feeling like yourself. In our journey together, we’ll explore the intricacies of your unique experiences as we navigate toward healing and wholeness.
While my primary expertise is working with men, I also work with women and diverse gender expressions. I generally work with individuals over 18, however, I will work with couples and minors on a case by case basis. So please don’t hesitate to reach out.
My passion for working with men, especially queer men, arises first and foremost from being a queer man and a desire to stay close to what I know. But I’m also driven by a desire to provide a safe space, free of judgment because our society often sends confusing messages about masculinity. For GBTQ+ men, this is even more challenging because we often lack models for healthy queer masculinity. We live in a homophobic and transphobic culture where queer people often struggle to find community and spaces where they can safely be themselves and heal from their traumas. So, I want my therapy work to be a place where that processing and healing can happen, free of judgments and expectations.
The Work I do
While I’m trained as a generalist and welcome a diverse range of clients, my true passion lies in working with individuals at the intersection of sexuality and spirituality. This includes LGBTQ+ individuals and those navigating the aftermath of religious trauma. I support clients in embracing and enhancing their connection with sex, sexuality, and intimacy, exploring how it harmonizes with their lives, and also address concerns related to the mechanics of sex. I understand, too, the joy and profound wounds religion can cause. Whether you’re LGBTQ+ or not, religious wounds are enduring, often leading to faith deconstruction. I’ve been through this journey and have the tools to support you.
I affirm the intrinsic dignity, beauty, and worth of every person. To that end, my work is inherently focused on liberation; it is antiracist, sex-positive, compassionate, and aims toward a transformation of society. I will never discriminate against clients based on sex, gender (identity or expression), sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, nationality, socioeconomic status, or belief system.
My therapeutic style is highly relational, drawing from psychodynamic, family systems, and attachment theories. I believe in bringing my authentic self into therapy, ensuring it feels like a genuine connection rather than a clinical encounter.
I became a therapist after navigating my struggles as a chubby gay kid in a religious family. I initially wanted to be a pastor, and I got a degree in Biblical Studies and Preaching from Jonson Bible College. After realizing that wasn’t for me, I shifted gears to pursue a career in therapy. I earned my Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy with a specialization in Sex Therapy from Richmont Graduate University in 2013. After joining a group practice in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 2016, I established an independent private practice in 2019. My struggles with faith and sexuality led me to come out as gay in 2019 and distance myself from Christianity. Despite the challenges and pain, embracing my authentic self brought immense fulfillment.
As I was going through this journey, I noticed that many of my clients, friends, and people worldwide found themselves confronting their beliefs, many of them deconstructing those beliefs in part or whole. Curiosity about this led to me moving to Denver in 2021 to pursue a PhD in Religious Studies at the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology. My focus includes exploring how religion, politics, and culture shape Queer identities.
While my connection to Christianity has shifted, its influence remains, guiding my spirituality in new and meaningful ways. My faith and spiritual practices continue to shape who I am, but I respect that everyone is on different journeys. I’m committed to honoring and respecting your spiritual path, values, and practices – and seeing how those can be a part of our therapeutic work.
Outside my therapy office, I’m a self-proclaimed coffee addict who enjoys gardening, camping, cooking, and time with friends. I live with a rescue cat named Dobby, who demands lots of belly rubs, requires long naps on windowsills, and goes on frequent trash hunting adventures. Lastly, I’m an avid reader. Some of my favorite authors are Wendell Berry, Henri Nouwen, Barbara Brown Taylor, Stephen King, Brandon Sanderson, and James SA Corey.