Creating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Treatment-Sensitive Substance Abuse Counselors: The Importance of Cultural Competency
Ami Lynch, J.N. Karp. Social Solutions International, Inc., United States
Background: Substance abuse counselors often lack specialized training for treating their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) clients. The long-term goal of the LGBTQ Treatment Issues for Providers (LGBTQ-TIPs) project is to develop and evaluate an interactive, continuing medical education-approved CD-ROM/online course designed to educate substance abuse counselors on the importance of being sensitive to and having knowledge about their LGBTQ clients, and to provide them with the practical tools necessary to treat LGBTQ clients effectively.
Methods: We conducted focus groups with substance abuse counselors and with LGBTQ substance abusers, assembled an expert panel, completed and programmed the first phase of the CD-ROM/online course, and conducted a pilot study on the effectiveness of a phase one Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Results: Qualitative data demonstrate important discoveries, including LGBTQ substance abusers’ need for LGBTQ-sensitive and knowledgeable providers, the dearth of training on this subject for substance abuse counselors, and the desire for interactive online curricula. All participants in the pilot study agreed on the need for the curricula, the ease of the product, and the timeliness of this issue.
Conclusion: The majority of participants reported that they intend to implement LGBTQ sensitivity as part of their counseling practices as a direct result of having reviewed the completed modules provided in the prototype. All project activities accomplished to date indicate that the LGBTQ-TIPs is a useful resource to help counselors address the multiple and complicated issues of LGBTQ clients.