Workshops & Lectures

Mental Health Issues in LGB Populations: Minority Stress, the Coming Out Process, and LGB Sensitive Therapy (1 CE)

by Ghazel Tellawi, Broderick Sawyer, Melissa Ellsworth, & Monnica Williams, Ph.D.

This lecture will discuss the mental health issues faced by LGB populations. Research and clinical practice has demonstrated that LGB individuals face disproportionately higher mental health issues in comparison to non-LGB counterparts, including higher rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide. Research has tried to elucidate the underlying causes of many of these mental health outcomes, most notably the minority stress theory. The minority stress theory states that individuals of a minority status, such as a specific race/ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, are more likely to face higher rates of mental, and some physical, health issues due to the increased stigma, prejudice and discrimination that they face, causing a hostile and stressful social environment. These forms of unique social stressors are thought to impact the minority individual's stress load, in addition to personal stressors that everyone faces, creating a higher burden of mental and physical health deficits.

Research has shown that those who reported high levels of minority stress were three times more likely to experience psychological distress. Research has demonstrated perceived discrimination among LGB individuals is predictive of several mental health issues including anxiety and substance use disorders. Research has also shown that LGB individuals who experienced more minority stress (e.g. higher perceived discrimination, internalized homophobia, sexual orientation concealment) reported more total physical health problems and poorer overall health than those with less minority stress. Also, some research has shown that gay men and lesbians who reported higher rates of reported victimization, rejection sensitivity and internalized homophobia had higher physical symptom severity.

In this workshop, we will further address the impact of minority stress in LGB individuals, including internalized homophobia, rejection sensitivity, perceived discrimination and concealment and how to manage and overcome these barriers. We will also focus on other antecedents that underlie many of the mental health issues in LGB individuals, including difficulties with the coming process, stigma and shame related to being gay or bisexual, coming to terms with an LGB identity, religious conflict, and the impact of family and friend support. Finally, we will discuss the importance of LGB-sensitive and competent mental health care and the importance of addressing the underlying issues related to mental health difficulties in these populations.

About the Speakers

Broderick Sawyer, B.S. is a second year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at the University of Louisville, and researches anxiety disorders in ethnoracial and sexual minorities at the Center for Mental Health Disparities. Mr. Sawyer has published several manuscripts and book chapters on sociocultural factors that impact anxiety in minorities, and sociocultural factors salient to minority populations that predict psychological outcomes.

Ghazel Tellawi, M.A. is a second year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at the University of Louisville. Ms. Tellawi researches obsessive-compulsive disorder and LGBT issues at the Center for Mental Health Disparities. Ms. Tellawi has published several manuscripts and book chapters, and presented posters, on OCD and issues affecting ethnic and sexual minorities.

Melissa Ellsworth. B.A. is a second year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at the University of Louisville. Ms. Ellsworth researches the impact of stress on physical health outcomes and the role that mindfulness-based interventions has in mitigating poor health outcomes including chronic pain and illness. She is also interested in how these interventions can help buffer against minority stress and poor mental and physical health outcomes in LGBT populations. Ms. Ellsworth has published manuscripts and presented posters on mindfulness and self-compassion in various clinical populations as well as addressing treatment barriers in ethnic and sexual minority populations.

Event Details

Date: April 7, 2015, Noon - 1:00 pm.

Location: Chao Auditorium

Enhancing Clinical Skills with Ethnically and Racially Diverse Clients (up to 6 CE's)

Workshop sponsored by CMHD in partnership with KPA

Given the increasing diversity of clients seeking mental health care, there is a growing need to enhance the cultural sensitivity of therapeutic interventions with ethnoracial minority populations. This workshop will provide clinical perspectives on how to incorporate cultural factors into therapy. The presenter will discuss strategies for making treatment more relevant when working with underserved and marginalized populations. An assessment of functional and non-functional behaviors of both therapists and clients will be examined from the behaviorally-based Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP) perspective. Additionally, the presenter will address how therapies can be adapted when working with clients with diverse backgrounds, particularly as many empirically supported interventions were developed among relatively homogeneous research populations. Topics will include: culturally informed assessment; strategies to build alliances across difference; psychoeducation to include the role of racism and discrimination; identifying ethnoracial biases in the therapist; and how to identify and prevent committing microaggressions against clients, which can rupture the therapeutic alliance. Research findings surrounding the role of discrimination and racism upon mental health will also be reviewed. Additionally, a large part of this workshop will be for participants to ask questions and discuss cases.

About the Speaker

Monnica T. Williams, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and Director of the Center for Mental Health Disparities at the University of Louisville in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. She coordinates several research projects at the CMHD and provides research and clinical training to students.

Dr. Williams completed her undergraduate studies at MIT and UCLA. She received her Master's and Doctoral Degrees in clinical psychology from the University of Virginia, where she conducted research in the areas of psychopathology, tests and measurement, and ethnic differences. She completed her clinical internship at McGill University Health Centre, Montreal General Hospital Site, where she completed rotations in mood disorders, major mental illness, and sexual identity issues. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Louisville, Dr. Williams was an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia for four years, where she instructed medical residents, practicum students, and undergraduates.

Dr. Williams has published over 50 book chapters and peer-reviewed articles focused on anxiety-related disorders and cultural differences. She has received grant funding from local, federal, and international organizations. She has served on the board of directors of the Delaware Valley Association of Black Psychologists, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Main Line chapter, and the OC Foundation of California. She is currently a member of the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF), where she serves on the Scientific Advisory Board, and the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, where she serves as the Special Interest Group (SIG) leader for African Americans in Behavioral Therapy. She is also on the editorial board of the Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders (JOCRD) and Associate Editor of BMC Psychiatry.

Dr. Williams is a licensed psychologist who provides cognitive-behavioral treatment for adults and adolescents with OCD, PTSD, and other anxiety disorders. She specializes in treatment of the most severe cases of OCD and hoarding using Exposure and Ritual Prevention (Ex/RP) at the Behavioral Wellness Counseling Clinic & Louisville OCD Clinic. Dr. Williams provides supervision and training to other clinicians and has published several didactic articles on treatment issues. She has provided clinical lectures for mental health professionals at local organizations and national conferences (ABCT and IOCDF).

Workshop Details

Date: Friday May 22, 2015, 9:30 am - 5:00 pm.

Location: Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky


Part 1: Understanding Cultural Issues in Therapy: Stereotypes, Race, and Mental Health, 3 CE

Part 2: Making a Connection in Ethnically and Racially Diverse Therapist-Client Dyads, 3 CE

You will:

  1. Learn the difference between colorblind versus multicultural approaches to differences
  2. Understand how discrimination and racism impact mental health
  3. Know how to identify and avoid committing microaggressions against clients
  4. Understand how to build a strong therapeutic alliance with clients who are ethnoracially different than the therapist
  5. Learn how to address and integrate cultural issues in therapy.

Go to KPA to Register

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