Toward Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Sexual Minority Women: Voices From Stakeholders and Community Members

Jillian R. Scheer, Kirsty A. Clark, Erin McConocha, Katie Wang, John E. Pachankis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sexual minority women (SMW) experience an elevated risk of mental health problems compared to heterosexual women. However, knowledge gaps remain regarding whether cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) interventions meet SMW's mental health needs. Further, virtually no studies have integrated stakeholder (i.e., researchers with content expertise in SMW's health and clinical providers who work with SMW) and community member (i.e., SMW) perspectives to identify CBT approaches that address SMW-specific issues. This study used qualitative data gathered from 39 SMW who reported depression, anxiety, suicidality, and heavy drinking in the past 3 months and 16 content experts and clinical providers to obtain information relevant to enhancing CBT for SMW. In addition, we used thematic analysis to identify themes related to the adaptation and delivery of CBT for SMW. Building on prior literature, this study's findings revealed seven considerations for delivering mental health services to SMW: (1) attending to SMW's diverse gender identities and expressions; (2) focusing on SMW's nonbinary stressors; (3) formulating SMW's gender-based stressors within a feminist framework; (4) applying intersectionality frameworks; (5) incorporating issues of diversity, multiculturalism, and social justice; (6) addressing the role of trauma exposure; and (7) addressing the role of alcohol use in SMW's lives. These considerations are reviewed in terms of their implications for clinical practice, with a focus on enhancing applications of existing CBT interventions, to best respond to the unique needs of this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCognitive and Behavioral Practice
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • mental health
  • sexual minority women
  • stigma
  • treatment providers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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