Officially released during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Sexual Minority Persons replaced the Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients (APA, 2011) in February 2021. Task force members worked on revising the document for nearly three years prior to its release. Task Force members included Roberto Abreu, PhD; Gregory Canillas, PhD; Barbara Gormley, PhD; Elizabeth W. Ollen, PhD; Jennifer A. Vencill, PhD; and David Pantalone, PhD. Leading the dynamic group were Nadine Nakamura, PhD, and Franco Dispenza, PhD.
Continuing to embody the spirit of past iterations, the newest set of guidelines uses three different theoretical approaches to frame the 16 individual guidelines. Theoretical frameworks include: intersectionality theory, minority stress theory, and principles of affirmative psychological care. Further, the best available science and evidence are used to substantiate the rationale and practice recommendations for each guideline.
Readers will find the guidelines are structured along five different segments. The first, foundational knowledge and awareness, emphasizes the role of intersecting identities (e.g., race, ethnicity, disability status, social class, etc.), gender identity and expression, and the importance of affirming bi+ identities. The second segment—the impact of stigma, discrimination, and sexual minority stress—explores the influence of institutional discrimination, distal minority stressors, proximal minority stressors, and resilience on the lives of sexual minority individuals. The third segment, relationships and family, explores diverse relationship structures and ecologies for sexual minority individuals. The fourth segment of the guidelines dives into the educational, schooling, and work lives of sexual minority individuals. The fifth and final segment focuses on professional training for psychologists. The fifth segment also updates various perspectives about the role and function of research on sexual minority communities.
Division 44’s official journal, Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, published a special issue on the guidelines in September 2021: “Emerging Directions: Going beyond the revised APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Sexual Minority Persons.” Guest editors Franco Dispenza, PhD, and Nadine Nakamura, PhD, invited teams of early career psychologists to make specific contributions. Contributors conducted high level systematic reviews and content analyses on radical healing for black queer communities, measurement of sexual orientation with gender diverse populations, relationship functioning among culturally diverse sexual minority persons, representations of kink communities, as well as work and vocational psychology. A content analysis on the affirmative training of mental health practitioners was also published in the special issue.
Readers interested in the guidelines can access them directly from APA’s website (PDF, 1MB). Readers could also read the executive summary of the guidelines when they’re officially published in the American Psychologist. Readers are highly encouraged to access the special issue, already published in the September 2021 issue of the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.