STUDY: Mental-Health Providers Less Comfortable With Bi Men, Trans People

Charlie Brown Christmas Lucy psych standA rather unique survey coming out of California suggest that mental-health providers are still failing the LGBT community to some extent.

Conducted by the LGBTQ Reducing Disparities ProjectFirst, Do No Harm found that providers treated different segments of the community differently.

“Providers were more comfortable for example with people who are gay or lesbian versus people who are bisexual. They were less comfortable with bisexual men than bisexual women and then they were less comfortable with people who are transgender,” said researcher Poshi Mikalson..

In addition to comfort levels, many mental-health providers are not trained in addressing issues particular to the LGBT community—they may not even know to ask a patient about his or her sexuality or gender expression.

While the profession is leaps and bounds beyond where it was just a few decades ago, “There are still people dying, there are still people who are killing themselves,” says Mikalson.


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  • EManhattan

    Psychologists have never dealt with sexuality very well, in spite of being obsessed with sex. Most of them are theory-driven, not fact-driven, and since the real world rarely fits their theories, they often fail their clients badly when a client is trying to sort out sexuality, affectional or identity questions.

    Good luck to anyone trying to find an effective therapist – unless you can get good, first-hand personal references that the therapist is sane and reality-based, your chances of getting real help are slim.

  • EdWoody

    I think it’s important to clarify that “less comfortable” does not necessarily equate to “anti.” Less comfortable could simply be a symptom of less experience and less familiarity All it takes is additional education.

  • GayTampaCowboy

    ACTUALLY, the APA (American Psychiatric Assoc) has VERY CLEAR guidelines and training
    for licensed counselors.

    The reality is, these counselors are PEOPLE, who have to suspend their own feelings,
    upbringing, religious beliefs and morals in order to help their client/patient.

    So, the REAL issue here is WHAT is driving these Psychologists’ “comfort level?”

    If they are unable to counsel a client/patient due to their own feelings,
    upbringing, religious beliefs and morals – they actually are required by the APA
    to undergo support counseling.

    Here’s the big issue that most folks don’t know. A “pastor, priest, rabbi or other
    recoginzed religious person” does NOT go thru the same training or held to the same
    level of professional ethics that a non-religous Psychologist does.

    That’s right. When a priest counsels a person or couple, they are free to replace
    recoginzed APA practices with practices driven by their faith’s dogma.

    So, when a kid is questioning their orientation and goes to a pastor or priest, he/she
    is NOT necessarily going to get the same kind of counseling and support he/she might
    get from a non-religious counselor.

    So, i’d dig a bit deeper into those “psychologists” who said they were uncomfortable
    counseling bi men and trans folks.


    Perhaps better, more specific training is needed?

  • garretj

    In most industries, I wouldn’t be surprised, but I guess I’ve just had good experiences with mental health providers. I live in Tennessee of all states, and after a DUI I was suggested to a psychologist to address any issues related to problem drinking. Even in this mostly-backwards state, the therapist didn’t bat an eye when I told her that I was gay and even suggested that my (now very much ex-) boyfriend and I come in for couples’ counseling. Living in this conservative of an environment, this was one of the most positive experiences I’ve had after announcing my gayness to strangers. It’s legitimately sad that my experience was even more the exception to the rule than I thought.

  • Raquel Santiago

    Its not just mental health its also disabilities, this is still kinda taboo even within the community not just with mental health.

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