Berke, D. S., Maples-Keller, J. L., & Richards, P. (2016). LGBTQ perceptions of psychotherapy: A consensual qualitative analysis. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/pro0000099
This article discusses findings of a qualitative study with 13 self-identified LGBTQ individuals who had a previous experience with psychotherapy.
Utilizing consensual qualitative research (CQR) methods to analyze narratives from the participants, some important themes emerged which provide insights for clinicians to offer treatment that is sensitive to the needs of this population.
The participants articulated certain preferences regarding the content and characteristics of psychotherapy that contribute to the perception of affirmation and competence of the clinician.
In addition to an expressed desire for shared elements of identity between the patient and the clinician, some factors that are likely to increase this population’s receptivity of treatment include the clinician’s in-depth experience with LGBTQ individuals as well as issues that often impact their life experience, the clinician’s demonstrated commitment to this population through certain practices which indicate a sense of safety for them (e.g., asking about sexual identity at intake, displaying the rainbow flag, etc.) or through their explicit use of language which demonstrates expertise in mental health of sexual and gender minorities.
Lastly, given the dynamic and evolving nature of sexual and gender identity development, several participants expressed a desire to work with clinicians who utilize a non-directive approach whereby the patient’s sense of agency is able to inform the pace and structure of treatment.