The Antioch University LGBT Specialization in Clinical Psychology Philosophy
“Training the Next Generation of LGBT Psychotherapists in LGBT-Affirmative Psychotherapeutic Healing While Enriching LGBT Cultural Life in Los Angeles.”
A pioneer in social justice for over 150 years, Antioch University launched the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans (LGBT) Specialization at its Los Angeles Campus in 2005, one of the nation’s first master’s level graduate psychology programs in LGBT-Affirmative Theory and Practice. This school of thought is derived from activist efforts following the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969 which saw the de-pathologization of homosexuality in psychiatry and which subsequently birthed a rich legacy of scholarship and clinical practice based in the study and strengthening of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender identity, wholeness, and social transformation throughout the lifespan.
LGBT-Affirmative Theory and Practice addresses itself to that contradiction that, despite improvements in civil rights and increased visibility, psychological problems persist for many LGBT individuals. Centuries of erasure of ancient homosexual, bisexual, and gender-variant wisdom traditions have caused trauma in the collective and personal psyche. While this injury can be hidden in society, it can result in a crisis of meaning on the personal and societal level. One provisional solution has been to seek assimilation; another has been to turn to postmodernism and queer theory. Some seek therapy. Research shows that LGBT clients seek therapy in disproportionate numbers to their non-LGBT counterparts. Research also shows that most therapists are not receiving competent training and supervision in affirmative practice.
To address these political challenges in a hands-on way, the LGBT Specialization invites student clinicians to become leaders in this relatively new field of affirmative psychotherapeutic healing. Students take classes in Human Sexuality, LGBT History and Myth, Multiculturalism, Affirmative Psychotherapy, LGBT Family Systems, and Community Action, plus individual “identity” workshops in “Lesbian,” “Gay,” “Bisexual,” and “Transgender” personhood, Affirmative Approaches to Addiction, HIV, and Domestic Violence, an Advanced Transgender Affirmative class, adding 17 additional units to the student’s existing master’s level coursework. Clinical training opportunities in affirmative theory and practice are offered, some from our own specialization, as well as professional development assistance. Students are required to two take at least two quarters of psychotherapy (ideally from affirmative clinicians). Additional saturation experiences takes place outside of the classroom through African, Latino, and Asian Caucuses; Speaker Series; LGBT Specialization Quarterly Dinners; Professional Conferences; and weekly “working groups” to help establish affirmative clinical settings.
To further amplify learning, the LGBT Specialization has founded two clinical training sites based in the LGBT Specialization’s affirmative ideology. “Antioch Alive” is a clinical training site associated with the non-profit HIV organization Being Alive, which offers therapy to the HIV-impacted community. “Colors,” an additional clinical training site, is an LGBT Youth Counseling Center associated with Pueblo Nuevo Development, which runs a network of Charter Schools in the MacArthur Park District. In addition, our “LGBT Community Action” program provides opportunities to create affirmative community-oriented programs (such as in the cases of Colors and Antioch Alive), and also to add to the body of research and scholarly literature in field LGBT-Affirmative Theory and Practice. Through the Alumni Professional Development Group, LGBT Specialization graduates are provided career opportunities to develop their own leadership skills as educators, practitioners, and activists.
The LGBT Specialization pioneers an integral approach based in a psychodynamic/Jungian methodology that also utilizes methodologies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, family systems, narrative therapy, and existential humanist approaches to help clients with basic problem-solving and ego-support, while providing the possibility for in-depth, comprehensive healing of core trauma (the effect of surviving in heterosexist culture). While learning to work affirmatively with multiple theories in culturally and ethnically diverse ways, students are taught to appreciate and honor the living presence of the unconscious in themselves and their clients, where it must be hypothesized that destructive elements of internalized homophobia and heterosexism reside, and which must be identified and assessed in order to be alchemically worked-through and fully transformed. The LGBT specialization maintains that only in this way can true healing occur for individual members of this special community. In this way the LGBT Specialization is rooted in the long-respected field of LGBT Studies and its differentiation of a psychological wing. Aspects of postmodernism and its sister, Queer Theory, are studied in so far as they deconstruct heteronormativity and unjust power and other forms of Colonialism, but not as replacements to LGBT Studies or identity based phenomenon. All forms of identities are explored, those within the spectrum of fluidity as well as those people who are secure in their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender identities. Those people who are not LGBTQ or fluid, but are brave allies, are encouraged to study in the LGBT Specialization, as many of our most vocal alumni are allies.
Students are invited to engage and discourse with the LGBT Specialization’s emergent Affirmative Philosophy to create a rich and stimulating learning environment.