Mental health professionals' attitudes, knowledge, and expertise in providing services for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered (GLBT) individuals are a stigmatized group of people. As a group, these individuals are often the target of discrimination and hatred by many people in society. Moreover, many GLBT individuals have even been subject to physical and verbal assaults for no other reason than the individuals' sexual orientation. They often experience various psychiatric disorders as a result of their marginalized status. In addition, many GLBT individuals experience problems with self-acceptance and internalized homophobia. As a group, they are more likely to seek mental health services than those in the heterosexual population. Unfortunately, mental health providers are often undereducated about the needs of this population. Graduate programs in the human services field are failing to provide the education that will properly prepare clinicians to provide mental health services to the GLBT population. Additionally, internalized homophobia and archaic beliefs often hinder clinicians' ability to be develop an adequate therapeutic alliance with GLBT clients, thereby limiting their ability to effectively work with this population.
This study focuses on the needs of GLBT clients and the problems inherent in seeking mental health services from unprepared and biased therapists. Surveys were distributed to a variety of mental health providers and graduate students in an effort to understand how age, gender, educational background, theoretical orientation, and exposure to the GLBT population has impacted clinicians' understanding of the therapeutic needs of this population.
Results of this study confirmed that there is continued need for additional training in diversity, especially as it relates to sexual orientation. The inadequate training that mental health professionals receive often results in GLBT clients receiving less than optimal or even harmful mental health treatment.
0451: Social psychology
0347: Mental health