Culturally competent and spiritually sensitive therapy with Lesbian and Gay Christiansedit
This article presents results from a retrospective qualitative study of 27 lesbian and gay (LG) Christians that examined religious and spiritual issues and resolutions. Participants were also asked to identify the necessary knowledge and skills that practitioners (social workers, therapists, pastoral care providers, and so on) working with clients who are coming out need to help such clients integrate their sexual orientation and religion or spirituality. By analyzing the stories of participants, the authors identified information to enhance practitioners’ cultural competence and spiritual sensitivity. Themes identified as important were having a historical perspective, self-awareness, and a nonjudgmental attitude; expanding definitions; and understanding the power of words. Participants described both their negative and positive experiences in integrating their faith and sexual orientation, and offered pragmatic suggestions for LG Christians. Themes identified were reframing scripture and tradition, supportive pastoral relationships, affirming Christian communities, peer support, and educational resources. This article will increase practitioner understanding of how to support the integration of sexual orientation and Christianity for LG clients who are coming out. It is also a resource for LG Christians who can benefit from reading stories of those who have successfully integrated their faith and sexual orientation.