Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Fickling, Melissa J.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling and Higher Education (CAHE)


The counseling literature has indicated that LGBTQ+ persons have experienced fewer positive mental health outcomes than cisgender heterosexual persons. Professional counselors, despite their requirement to provide culturally sensitive counseling services for all communities, must learn how to better need the needs of LGBTQ+ persons and communities. This dissertation elevates LGBTQ+ persons’ voices by examining the experiences of LGBTQ+ persons in clinical professional counseling. Specifically, the IPA approach was utilized in analyzing data from six individuals who each participated in two interviews lasting 45-90 minutes each. This investigation found commonalities between each participant regarding both their helpful and unhelpful experiences in counseling. The results indicated that although all participants shared a need for counseling foundations, LGBTQ+ knowledge-affirmation-safety, resilience, and access, each participant made meaning of these needs in different ways. The investigation also found that some clients had experienced harm in counseling. The rich findings that emerged from the experiences of the participants are presented in relation to current knowledge about LGBTQ+ persons’ experiences and needs in counseling. Implications for the counseling and mental health fields and opportunities for future research are explored.


163 pages




Northern Illinois University

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