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By The LGBTQIA Special Interest Group

There are crucial issues regarding the mental well-being of LGBTQIA+ people that urgently need to be addressed. For instance, individuals from LGBTQIA+ populations experience unique external stressors, such as stigma, discrimination, and concealment of sexual or gender identity. This leads to an increased risk for the development of mental health issues three times higher than straight people.

Additionally, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 20-30% of the LGBTQIA+ community have a diagnosed substance use disorder compared to around 9% of straight people. Also, LGBTQIA+ adults are 3x more likely to attempt suicide than straight people (US Department of Health and Human Services), and LGBTQIA+ youth are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers (Trevor Project). Experienced harassment and violence, bullying, homophobia, stigma and shame, abuse, national discourse, and rejection by family members are some lead causes.

To do its part in helping to address the mental health treatment disparities queer individuals experience, the LGBTQIA+ Special Interest Group (SIG) has the goal of improving access to affirming, evidence-based treatment for LGBTQIA+ individuals with OCD.

The SIG is dedicated to building a community for LGBTQIA+ identifying OCD clinicians, researchers, educators, and people with lived experience. This group also focuses on experience-sharing and the development and promotion of advocacy initiatives associated with stigma, discrimination, and barriers to care.

The members of the LGBTQIA+ SIG compiled a list of statements that they wish for therapists who treat OCD, as well as the overall OCD community, to know:

“Those in the LGBTQIA+ community with OCD also experience sexual orientation OCD and gender identity obsessions.”

“We may not feel as comfortable about opening up about our thoughts & experiences to our clinicians. Your understanding or being open and accepting of our identities and experiences will improve our OCD treatment outcomes.”

“There is a difference between exploration of sexuality and gender identity versus OCD-based obsessions on the subject. It is important for clinicians to know and be sensitive to the differences.”

“Queer people and spaces should not be used as props in ERP for OCD. Exposures can be done in a way that is both effective treatment AND supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community.”

“Please don’t make Pride Month ‘SO OCD’ month.”

"My Harm OCD has nothing to do with being gay."

“My queerness is a part of me I value- It doesn’t need fixing with t therapy or religion.”

“Queer folks are not all the same- please don’t make the assumption that we’re all the same. We’re very diverse and want to be treated as whole humans.”

“When working with queer clients it’s important to seek consultation, educate yourself and approach the client with openness and curiosity. If you are avoiding their identities because you’re uncomfortable or don’t understand it could negatively impact the client and treatment."

“Obsessions may not have any correlation with my sexuality. They are not always intertwined.”


If you are interested in joining the LGBTQIA+ SIG, we meet every second Thursday of the month at 4 pm ET and please fill out this interest form to receive more information on ways to get involved: https://iocdf.org/special-interest-groups/lgbtq/

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