Antioch University Los Angeles (AULA) launched the one of the nation’s first graduate psychology specializations devoted to clinical psychology for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals over 10 years ago. The LGBT Specialization in the Masters in Psychology (MAP) program trains students in LGBT affirmative theory and practice, and has an activist presence serving the Los Angeles psychotherapeutic community. Additionally, the Specialization supports Colors Youth Program through the Antioch University Counseling Program, providing free counseling and healing psychotherapeutic services to LGBTQ youth under 25 and their families in greater Los Angeles.
Recently, LGBT Specialization interim co-directors Cadyn Cathers, MA and Thomas Mondragon, MA, LMFT spearheaded partnering with Airport Marina Counseling Services (AMCS) to develop their LGBTQIA clinical training components. AMCS provides training for mental health therapists through affordable, community-based mental health services. Many AULA MAP students complete their traineeships there, and the relationship with AMCS is long-established.
“Being LGBT or LGBT friendly isn’t enough to be competent to provide counseling for LGBT people,” said Cathers. “You have to have specialized training to provide effective psychotherapeutic services.”
Psychotherapists are required to complete 3000 hours of training in order to become licensed, and AMCS is one site where students and grads can work towards this. Cathers and Mondragon decided to work with AMCS based on their expressed an interest in providing ethical affirmative counseling and training for students and interns, their appreciation of psychodynamic theory, and to meet the Specialization’s goal promoting affirmative practices throughout the wider counseling community. The Antioch team (which includes AULA alumni presenters) coordinate four trainings in LGBT affirmative counseling for all AMCS staff, one additional for supervisors, and on monthly trainings (12/ year) for therapists specializing in LGBTIA counseling.
L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin became very interested in this partnership and lent his active support, interviewing the instrumental parties from AMCS and the LGBT Specialization for a 90 second spot which will be used to promote AMCS’s newly established LGBTQAI Affirmative Therapy Center, and the LGBT Specialization’s role in it.
“We are very excited to be able to provide this most unique and important training,” said Mondragon. “This further supports our vision deeply valuing LGBTQ lives and mental health well-being, at the core of the Specialization’s graduate curriculum. We invite all prospective MA in Psychology students, including allies, to consider participating in furthering the important therapeutic possibilities the LGBT Specialization offers Los Angeles’ diverse LGBTQ community.”