Nation's first LGBTQ clinical psychology internship launched at Center

Thu. July 18, 2013 6:25 AM by News Staff

Chicago, IL - The nation's first clinical psychology internship track focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) health will launch this fall here in Chicago.

"Through this historic collaboration between multiple departments at Northwestern University and Center on Halsted we will be training future leaders in LGBT health research, education, and clinical care," said Brian Mustanski, PhD,associate professor of medical social sciences and director of the IMPACT LGBT Health and Development Program. "The LGBT community experiences numerous health inequities and there are too few psychologists with the educational background to help address these needs."

"We are excited to launch this historic internship program with the IMPACT LGBT Health and Development Program at Northwestern University," said Modesto Tico Valle, CEO of Center on Halsted. "The scope of this new program reaches beyond Chicago—significantly impacting the future of mental health care for LGBTQ people and the clinical psychologists who serve this community across the country. Center on Halsted is leading the way in securing a healthy future for LGBTQ individuals as we help prepare the next generation of mental health professionals provide the most appropriate levels of care."

Training additional providers in the fields of LGBT health, research, education, and services, the internship is meant to increase access of LGBT-identifying individuals to culturally competent and evidenced-based mental health care.

A track within the psychiatry and behavioral sciences internship and postdoctoral fellowship program, interns will experience rotations that will integrate training in mental healthcare for LGBT clients in the community, gay and bisexual men living with HIV/AIDS in an infectious disease clinic, caring for low-income individuals with serious mental illness, and LGBT public health research and services.

"A large majority of our interns go on to positions as faculty members at academic medical centers and so we have, for the past four-plus decades, balanced advanced clinical training with skills in clinical research," said Mark Reinecke, PhD, professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences and head of the internship program. "This is an exceptional new opportunity as interns will get the benefit of working with some of the leading LGBT scholars and top clinicians in the country."

As a group, LGBT adults experience more mood and anxiety disorders, depression, suicidal ideation and attempts, and substance use as compared with heterosexual adults. Driving these disparities is the fact that LGBT people are more frequently the targets of stigma, discrimination, and violence because of their sexual- and gender-minority status, which leads to long-lasting effects on both the individual and the community.

"Health professionals with greater exposure to this patient population and formal education in LGBT psychology are more likely to take the time to learn a patient's sexual orientation and to provide competent care," said Mustanski. "Unfortunately, available evidence suggests too few professional psychologists receive formal training in this area. Our goal is to train clinical psychologists who are prepared for careers as clinicians and clinical researchers who are competent to address the health inequities and disproportionalities in the LGBT population."

Sponsored jointly by the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical Social Sciences, the Division of Infectious Diseases, and the Center on Halsted, the internship program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and will support three interns each year.

From a news release