Guidelines for Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual-Affirmative Educational Practices in Graduate Psychology Programs

Essay by sharonulyssesCollege, Undergraduate July 2009

download word file, 24 pages 4.3

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. The American Psychological Association quickly endorsed this move, also recommending that psychologists work to remove the stigma that had been attached to homosexuality. Unfortunately, as Bohan and Russell (1999, p. 143) pointed out, "by no means have we succeeded in eradicating homophobia and heterosexist influences from the discipline." Some psychologists continue to hold negative attitudes about gay/lesbian/bisexual (GLB) persons, and some GLB persons have reported negative experiences with mental health professionals (Garnets, Hancock, Cochran, Goodchilds, & Peplau, 1991; Liddle, 1996).

Because professional psychology programs educate practitioners who may work with GLB clients, it is important that educators in these programs be well informed about the experiences and mental health needs of GLB persons. However, Phillips and Fischer (1998), in their survey of graduate psychology students, concluded that training in GLB issues is inadequate in psychology programs.

They contended thatboth counseling and clinical psychology need to ensure that graduate programs make more consistent and more concerted efforts to integrate LGB [lesbian, gay, and bisexual] issues into their curricula if they are to produce psychologists who are competent to work with LGB clients. (p. 729)Furthermore, it is incumbent on programs to be welcoming and facilitative of GLB students because these individuals may be especially well informed about and qualified to provide affirmative psychological services to GLB clients. This article makes recommendations for educational practices in graduate psychology with respect to (a) institutional climate and support and (b) education about GLB issues.

In this article, we use the terms sexual minority and GLB interchangeably, though sexual minority status can include other self-definitions, for instance, transgender, transsexual, and two-spirited persons. The focus of this article is on GLB persons and sexual orientation status. Any attempt to address the experiences of...