Changeways Clinic

Sexual Orientation Issues in Healthcare


Introduction

Healthcare workers provide services to individuals from a wide variety of cultural groups. Knowing something of the issues faced by members of these groups can be essential in providing optimal service. This one-day, half-day, or two-hour seminar provides therapists with an introduction to the gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities.

The workshop uses a variety of instructional styles including lecture, video, discussion and nonthreatening exercises. Participants receive a set of resources on gay, lesbian, and bisexual issues for future reference.

Most offerings of this workshop are for a specific audience or setting, and the workshop is tailored to the requirements of the host agency. Click here to learn more about hosting a Changeways Clinic workshop.

Is this a treatment protocol like other Changeways Clinic programs?

No. Unlike some of our other training programs, "Sexual Orientation Issues in Healthcare" is not a treatment protocol. Instead, it is a compendium program designed to offer healthcare providers an introduction to some of the issues faced by gay, lesbian, and bisexual clients. Many professionals have commented that they would like to increase their familiarity with some of the key concepts related to these communities in order to provide better service. The workshop is designed to address some of the most pressing issues.

Who should attend?

The workshop is designed for all healthcare providers (not just those in mental health settings), including front office staff. Heterosexual providers wishing to develop more familiarity with these populations may find the workshop particularly helpful. This program is often tailored to the needs of the setting - we have offered programs for educators, physicians, foster parents, and others - the program can be specific for each.

Workshop Contents

The program elements are typically selected for the audience anticipated. The emphasis is on providing participants with practical information that can be applied in their own work. Here are some of the topics usually covered in a full-day workshop:

  • The nature of sexual orientation. Is sexual orientation a continuum or a dichotomy? The Kinsey scale of sexual orientation. Orientation development and awareness. Sexual orientation versus sexual identity and sexual behaviour.
  • Sexual orientation and the law. What are the laws relating to sexual behaviour? Discrimination? Hate crimes? Same-sex couples? A review of the recent history of Canadian legal developments.
  • Coming out issues. Why is "coming out" such a central issue for gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) people? What does it mean to come out? What are the health implications of coming out? How can we be of service with an individual contemplating coming out?
  • Gay and lesbian culture 101. Terminology. What is the culture all about? What local community resources are available to GLB people?
  • Homophobia. Is homophobia really a phobia? How do conscious or unconscious negative attitudes toward GLB people manifest themselves? How can GLB people have homophobic attitudes? What is the influence of these attitudes? How do they apply to health and mental health issues?
  • Barriers to health and mental health care. How can being a GLB person have a negative impact on access to health care? How can we remove these barriers? How can therapists ensure that their practices do not impose or support such barriers?
  • Sexual orientation and health. What are the implications of an individual's sexual orientation for their mental and physical health? This section includes a discussion of HIV/AIDS and breast cancer.
  • Sexual orientation and suicide. What does the research say about suicidality among gay youth? What are the risk factors? What about GLB adults?
  • Safer sex education. Every health practitioner should be able to provide basic safer sex information to clients of any sexual orientation. An introduction to the topic, with information handouts.
  • Same-sex relationships. What are the similarities and differences between same-sex and opposite-sex relationships? What are some of the common challenges same-sex couples face, and what are the corresponding opportunities?
  • Best practice guidelines for health and mental health. The American Psychological Association has developed a series of best practices guidelines for mental health practice with GLB individuals. We review these recommendations and add useful tips.
Participants receive a set of slide handouts from the presentation, as well as some adjunctive information.

Some hosts also opt to provide each participant with the Changeways Clinic book “Sexual Orientation Issues in Healthcare.” The contents include: definitions of common terms (and recommendations for usage in the healthcare setting); the process of coming out; types and manifestations of discrimination against those with nonheterosexual orientations; manifestations of discrimination in the healthcare setting; recommendations for best practice; a list of resource books; and a listing of community agencies and organizations providing service to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons. Appendices provide additional information on best practices procedures.

Feedback on this program

"Excellent presentation, good humour, and lots of information."
"I came believing I knew a lot, and found out I had a lot to learn."
"Respectful, humorous, and entertaining."
"As a heterosexual woman, there has been such a great growth in my understanding."
"Insightful, acknowledging, and powerful."
"Great! - Thank you for enlightening me."
"Fabulous, good energy and well balanced."
"The material really helped me get a handle on the issue. Awesome job!"
"Really great hands-on material that could be used right away."
"This workshop helped to give me a better understanding of some of the issues my clients face."

How to register

Most versions of this workshop are sponsored by specific agencies or groups, and so there may not be regular public versions of the program in Vancouver or elsewhere. Click here for information on sponsoring a workshop on this topic in your agency or region.

Check the
Calendar for information on upcoming workshop dates, locations, and prices. If Changeways Clinic is collecting registrations for the program, print a copy of the workshop flyer and registration form.

Fax the form with your credit card information filled in to 604 871 0495, or mail the form for credit card or cheque payment to us at Changeways Clinic, Suite 718, 2525 Willow Street, Vancouver BC, V5Z 3N8. Cheques should be made out to "Changeways Clinic".

If you have any questions about the program or about registration, call us at 604 871 0490 or email us at
.

If you know of additional staff members who might be interested in the program, call us and we can send out brochures via email or regular mail.

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