Defining Our Section Identity
For those who are learning about the Section for LGBT Issues (SLGBTI) for the first time through this newsletter, SLGBTI’s mission is to expand understanding of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender populations among counseling and psychological professionals, students and all those they impact in their roles as clinicians, teachers, consultants and authors.
SLGBTI has become known for providing a safe environment for members and recognizing the accomplishments of those in the field of counseling psychology as it works toward its greater mission. One way that the section creates this environment is by hosting an annual Cabaret/Dinner during the APA Convention. At the dinner, The 2015 SLGBTI awardees were recognized and included: Dr. Lore Dickey (Award for Significant Contribution to Social Justice and Advocacy), Dr. Stephanie Budge (Early Career Award for Contribution to LGBT Counseling Psychology), and Mr. Jayden Thai (Award for Outstanding Graduate Student). For the approximately 40 students and counseling psychologists in attendance, this last year’s dinner was filled with laughter, great food, and lots of opportunities for networking.
The 2015 APA Convention also marked the start of a new process of exploration as section members began a dialogue about who we are as a group of professionals and how do we define ourselves as a section. While SLGBTI continues to provide a safe space for those of all sexual orientations and gender identities, safety no longer appears to be the primary reason many choose to affiliate with the section. In recognition of the changing role that SLGBTI plays in the lives of our members, the executive committee opted to use a majority of our business meeting to discuss our section identity. The discussion served as a reminder that our membership is diverse and that the needs of those who identify primarily as academicians or researchers do not always align seamlessly with the needs of those who identify primarily as practitioners or supervisors. While we look forward to continuing the discussion of our section identity and how SLGBTI might more creatively fulfil its mission in Denver, the conversation at Convention provided the executive committee with direction and purpose for the current year.
Those who receive SLGBTI or Division 17 listserv postings may remember participating in a brief membership survey created and posted by Dr. Christopher Davids. While at the time of writing this brief report the data is still being collected, the information, insights, and suggestions provided will certainly be valuable as SLGBTI works to (re)define its identity. Our website has also been “redefined.” Thanks to Mr. John-Richard Pagan, the SLGBTI website (https://www.div17.org/slgbti/) has a new, more modern look and, based in part on membership survey results, will be updated with resources that better serve the needs of our members and others interested in LGBT issues. Dr. Stephanie Graham has been working hard to collaborate with members and sections within Division 17 to identify topics and develop programming that will further promote understanding of LGBT issues.
As a section, we have a long history of fiscal stability. In part, our financial stability has been due to the ongoing generosity of the editors of Handbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Clients, Drs. Bieschke, Perez, and DeBord. As we work to better understand SLGBTI’s identity, we also hope to promote the professional identity development of our graduate student affiliates. To that end, we are exploring ways to support student affiliate attendance at Convention while also continuing to insure the section’s financial future.
Finally, no discussion of our identity would be complete without recognition of our origins. We remain cognizant of the foundations of our section and thankful for the ongoing support and guidance of those psychologists who continue to remind us of the role SLGBTI can play in the professional lives of our members and the responsibility we have to continue advocating for and educating on LGBT issues.
Hope to see you in Denver!
Dustin K. Shepler, PhD
Tags: APA Convention, Diversity and Social Justice, LGBT, Sexual Orientation