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Introduction to the Special Issue on Sexual Orientation

and Gender Identity in Counselling Psychology

Introduction au numéro spécial sur l’orientation sexuelle

et l’identité sexuelle en psychologie du counseling

Robert A. Roughley

University of Calgary

Todd G. Morrison

University of Saskatchewan abstract

It is imperative that those affiliated with the field of counselling psychology and allied health disciplines embrace affirmative practices when interacting with LGBT persons. This introduction to the special issue of the Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy highlights the roles that theoretical and empirical work play in fulfilling this mandate.


Il incombe aux praticiens dans le domaine de la psychologie du counseling et autres dis-ciplines connexes d’adopter des pratiques affirmatives auprès de personnes LGBT. Cette introduction au numéro spécial de la Revue canadienne de counseling et de psychothérapie souligne les rôles que jouent le travail théorique et le travail empirique dans l’accomplis-sement de ce mandat.

This thematic issue is the first in the history of the Canadian Journal of

Counsel-ling and Psychotherapy dedicated to research focusing on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and

transgender (LGBT) counselling practice. It was approximately 18 months ago that we announced our original call for proposals, which yielded 10 submissions and dozens of communications supporting this endeavour. The end result is a col-lection of six articles that explore and discuss areas pertaining to intersectionality theory and sexual identities, ethical practice and multiple relationships, wisdom and resilience, female masculinity, gender-identity reform, and masculinities in female-to-male trans-identified individuals. We hope that readers learn from and reflect upon the contributions housed within this special issue.

Throughout the iterative process of assessing original and revised submissions, one question arose continually: “With the current social and political climate sup-porting LGBT individuals in Canada, why is a special issue necessary?” Embedded in this question, of course, is the assumption that counselling practice immedi-ately reflects the sociocultural and political changes that occur in a society. More troubling is the implicit assumption that marital equality somehow translates into affirmative counselling practice with LGBT clients. Historically, and within some Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy / 1 Revue canadienne de counseling et de psychothérapie


2 Robert A. Roughley & Todd G. Morrison present-day practices, clinicians were/are drawn to the practice of pathological othering (Robinson, 2012; Smith, Shin & Officer, 2012). Otherness represents a “social construction for the representation of those who are seen as undesirable” (Arthur, Merali, & Djuraskovic, 2010, p. 304). Such practices have pathologized and rendered non-hegemonic identities objectionable, and sadly continue to do so. For instance, conversion/reparative therapies (i.e., sexual orientation change efforts) and other harmful interventions remain in practice despite regulatory bod-ies asserting their use is unethical (Rosik, Jones, & Byrd, 2012; Tufford, Newman, Brennan, Craig, & Woodford, 2012).

Both historical and current literatures suggest that counsellors, psychologists, and other allied health professionals require additional insights, directives, and supports in the provision of culturally relevant and sensitive service provisions for LGBT clients (Alderson, 2013; Johnson, 2012). However, the ability to provide relevant and affirmative counselling does not exist in a vacuum: it is dependent on exposure to theoretical and empirical work that offers a voice to sexual and gender minorities. The creation and dissemination of this type of knowledge has played, and will continue to play, a significant role in the evolution and shaping of scholarship that is uniquely LGBT affirmative (Clarke & Peel, 2008; Rivers, 2008).

In closing, we invite readers to increase their current understanding of issues salient to LGBT persons, and to challenge mental health practices that serve to disempower. We advocate striving toward affirmative efforts that safeguard the authenticity and integrity of members of sexual and gender minorities.


Alderson, K. G. (2013). Counseling LGBTI clients. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Arthur, N., & Collins, S. (2010). Social justice and culture-infused counselling. In N. Arthur & S. Collins (Eds.), Culture-infused counselling (2nd ed., pp. 139–164). Calgary, AB: Counselling Concepts.

Arthur, N., Merali, N., & Djuraskovic, I. (2010). Facilitating the journey between cultures: Coun-selling immigrants and refugees. In N. Arthur & S. Collins (Eds.), Culture-infused counCoun-selling (2nd ed., pp. 285–314). Calgary, AB: Counselling Concepts.

Clarke, V., & Peel, E. (2008). Introducing out in psychology. In V. Clarke & E. Peel (Eds.), Out

in psychology: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer perspectives (pp. 1–9). West Sussex, UK:


Johnson, S. D. (2012). Gay affirmative psychotherapy with lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals: Implications for contemporary psychotherapy research. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry,

82(4), 516–522. doi:10.1111/j.1939-0025.2012.01180.x

Rivers, I. (2008). Bringing LGBTQ psychology into mainstream practice. In V. Clarke & E. Peel (Eds.), Out in psychology: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer perspectives (pp. 332–334). West Sussex, UK: Wiley.

Robinson, B. A. (2012). Is this what equality looks like? Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 9(4), 327–336. doi:10.1007/s13178-012-0084-3

Rosik, C. H., Jones, S. L., & Byrd, A. D. (2012). Knowing what we know about sexual orientation change efforts. American Psychologist, 67(6), 498–499. doi:10.1037/a0029683

Smith, L. C., Shin, R. Q., & Officer, L. M. (2012). Moving counseling forward on LGB and transgender issues: Speaking queerly on discourses and microaggressions. Counseling Psychologist,


Introduction to the Special Issue 3 Tufford, L., Newman, P. A., Brennan, D. J., Craig, S. L., & Woodford, M. R. (2012). Conducting

research with lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Navigating research ethics board reviews.

Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 24(3), 221–240. doi:10.1080/10538720.2012.697039

About the Authors

Robert A. Roughley is a doctoral candidate in counselling psychology, Faculty of Education, Uni-versity of Calgary. His main interests are in GLBTTI counselling and mental health, sex therapy, culture-infused counselling, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Todd G. Morrison is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Saskatchewan. His research interests are gay and lesbian psychology, body image, psychometrics, and human sexuality (in particular, pornography and sex work).

Address correspondence to Robert Roughley, City University of Seattle, 1300 - 8th Street SW, Suite 630, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2R 1B2; e-mail <robbier1@cityu.edu>


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