Empirically Based Psychological Interventions With Sexual Minority Youth: A Systematic Review

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Abstract

Sexual minority youth (SMY, i.e., lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals between the ages of 13–17) report increased rates of mental health concerns in comparison with heterosexual youth. However, there is a shortage of empirically supported treatments for SMY, as commonly administered interventions are understudied for minority communities. A systematic review of intervention literature was performed, consisting of 820 articles published through May 2017 that reported on intervention with SMY. After reviewing abstracts, 58 articles were included in 2 rounds of coding, with 8 articles providing quantitative pre- and post-treatment data with SMY that were not case studies, qualitatively based, and/or only containing general recommendations. In-person, computerized, and online interventions were all found to be effective modes of intervention for SMY, including individual and group approaches for various health concerns. Furthermore, treatments that were specifically modified for SMY with SMY-trained facilitators, and treatments with no SMY modifications or training, reported significant results. Generally, building resilience and encouraging identity acceptance were core to many of the interventions. Future research should expand on the interventions included in this review, with larger samples, comparison groups, and follow-up data. Although quantitative, empirically based intervention research regarding SMY is limited, important findings are discussed that inform recommendations for practicing clinicians and researchers.

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