Trainees’ Use of Supervision for Therapy With Sexual Minority Clients: A Qualitative Study

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Abstract

In the supervision literature, research on sexual orientation considerations often focuses on sexual minority supervisees and less often on their work with sexual minority clients. Yet both heterosexual and sexual minority supervisees serve sexual minority clients and may have different supervision needs. Twelve predoctoral interns from 12 APA-accredited counseling center internships were interviewed about how they made use of supervision for their work with a sexual minority client. The sample consisted of 6 heterosexual-identified supervisees and 6 supervisees who identified as lesbian, gay, or queer (LGQ). Data were analyzed using consensual qualitative research. All participants reported positive gains from supervision that carried over to their work with heterosexual and sexual minority clients, even when not all supervisors disclosed or discussed their own sexual orientation. Heterosexual supervisees used supervision to ensure that their heterosexuality does not interfere with an affirmative experience for their sexual minority client, whereas LGQ supervisees used supervision to explore differences in sexual identity development between themselves and their client to minimize the negative impact of overidentification. Thus, affirmative supervision may unfold with different foci depending on supervisees’ sexual identity. Implications for training and supervision are discussed.

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