The Envision:You LGBTQ+ Behavioral Health Provider Training Program
This course will challenge providers to examine their personal and professional frameworks as they relate to: Gender; sexuality; and the intersections of race, religion, and power, while enhancing their knowledge, skills, and cultural competence when working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ+) youth, adults, couples, and family systems. Common countertransference and transference concerns will also be addressed. Application of terms, concepts, models, and affirmative interventions will be demonstrated.
The overall objectives of this training series are to bring cultural relevance into working with LGBTQ+ clients in a behavioral health setting AND to create affirming and inclusive environments for LGBTQ+ clients. These objectives will run throughout this multi-level training program.
With greater societal awareness about sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity, people are coming out at younger ages, and–when compared to what has been reported in the literature–in unprecedented ways. Many individuals, families, schools, and communities are looking to mental health clinicians to provide guidance, increase protective factors, and respond in culturally appropriate manners across all practice settings.
Many straight providers who say that they are “LGBTQ+ affirming” are really saying that they are "gay positive" or "gay friendly." They tell LGBTQ+ client things like, “I’m open minded,” and “People are people.” They may even have a rainbow Pride flag in their office. These well-intentioned providers may very well be accepting and pro-gay, but some of them may also be uneducated. Even those who identify as LGBTQ+ may be uniformed on the impacts that possessing an LGBTQ+ identity can have on mental health. Having a healing, gay-affirming stance in a therapeutic space certainly helps relieve some of the distorted thinking that most clients bring in, but having an affirmative stance that is informed by research on the specific issues LGBTQ+ individuals face bolsters a clinician’s effectiveness and increases positive outcomes for LGBTQ+ clients. Failing to take on a research-informed, culturally relevant stance is unacceptable when the mental health disparities between LGBTQ+ people and cisgender/heterosexual folks are irrefutably stark and unjust.
The Envision:You Behavioral Health Provider Training Program will introduce providers to models of identity development for LGBTQ+ individuals, while stressing the importance of affirmative behavioral health care for LGBTQ+ client populations within multicultural and intersectional contexts. To reframe the identity developments of gender and sexual minorities as normative and healthy expressions of humanity, we must acknowledge the cultural context that LGBTQ+ individuals and families exist in; it is one that has long sought to pathologize and erase them.
Working effectively with LGBTQ+ clients and family systems requires not only a re-examination of our heterosexual- and cisgender-centric assumptions, but a commitment to changing these assumptions at the personal, professional, societal, and cultural levels as well. This course is designed to teach providers how to make the vital changes required to become more conscious advocates for LGBTQ+ populations inside the consultation room, outside of it, and within their circles of influence.