“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) Psychology Specialization at its Los Angeles campus in 2005, one of [not “the?] 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; and 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 nonprofit organization Being Alive, which offers therapy to the HIV-impacted community. Colors, an additional clinical training site, is an LGBT Youth Counseling and Community 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.