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 Taoiseach to launch Psychological Society of Ireland’s Guidelines for Good Practice with Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Clients

 


The Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) will be joined by An Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny, T.D., on Thursday at the launch of the Society’s Guidelines for Good Practice with Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Clients. The launch, which will take place at the RCSI on St Stephen’s Green at 10.15am, will become a significant piece of PSI history as the Society adopts the Guidelines as the standard for how PSI members work with people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB).

The Guidelines draw on international research and models of good practice that were identified through extensive consultation with international psychological associations and with psychologists and health practitioners in Ireland with specialist knowledge. They were developed by the PSI in collaboration with GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network) and the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention, and aim to inform psychologists of what they need to know when working with lesbian, gay or bisexual clients.

PSI member Dr Geraldine Moane has been instrumental in the development of the Guidelines for Good Practice with Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Clients. Dr Moane, who chairs the PSI’s Sexual Diversity and Gender Issues Special Interest Group, states: “In the last two decades there has been a great deal of research in psychology that highlights the diversity and richness of LGB lives. This research has discredited the outdated negative views previously held in psychology and elsewhere about homosexuality. It has also given us evidence of the impact that homophobia and minority stress can have on the health and wellbeing of LGB people. The Guidelines provide a basis for psychologists to provide an informed and supportive service and to contribute towards an inclusive society.”

Significant progress has been achieved in recent years in attaining equality for LGB people in Ireland. This has had a positive impact on the lives of LGB people and has allowed them to live more openly in society. However, stigmatisation, harassment and discrimination that LGB people face can have negative psychological effects. There are specific issues that psychologists need to be aware of when providing their service to LGB people. By being aware of these issues psychologists can help to reduce or eliminate the barriers to accessing support services that LGB people can face. The PSI Guidelines are intended to support psychologists to provide a service that is accessible for LGB people and one that is appropriate to their needs.

The current PSI President, Dr Paul D’Alton, is looking forward to welcoming the Taoiseach to the PSI Guidelines launch. Dr D’Alton says: “An Taoiseach will launch these Guidelines for us on Thursday and that is a very visible demonstration of his commitment to equality and inclusiveness, the journey to creating an Ireland that has room for all its citizens to flourish. I am immensely proud of the profession I lead, which represents close to 2500 psychologists, for their significant contribution to creating such an Ireland. This has been a challenging journey for everyone involved – politically, personally, psychologically. But we have arrived at something of a milestone.”

The Guidelines for Good Practice with Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Clients provide essential information, in an accessible way, about some of the key issues that have arisen from research and practice. They are based on extensive international research in psychology. The Guidelines include firstly an introduction and background highlighting changes in Irish society and the ethical and policy context in psychology. There is a section reviewing theory and research in key areas that are particularly relevant to lesbian, gay and bisexual experiences, such as sexual orientation, gender identity, coming out, homophobia, sexual stigma and minority stress, same sex relationships and same sex parenting. This is followed by a review of specific Irish research on mental health, linking this to international research. This research shows that those who have experienced homophobia and minority stress are at increased risk for psychological distress. Detailed examples of good practice with relevant information are also described. The Guidelines provide extensive information about resources and supports in an Irish and international context, and a detailed bibliography of Irish and international research.

From the Guidelines, it is evident that there are five steps that psychologists can take to ensure that their practice is inclusive of the needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual clients:
1. Being aware of LGB mental health issues and gay-specific stressors;
2. Not assuming all clients are heterosexual;
3. Responding supportively when clients disclose that they are LGB;
4. Challenging anti-gay bias and taking a gay-affirmative approach;
5. Demonstrating that their practice is inclusive of LGB people.


Please note that the Guidelines will be available to download from the PSI website after Thursday's official launch.

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