Date of Conferral





Counselor Education and Supervision


Jason Patton


The Catholic Church tenets are in dissonance with American Counseling Association (ACA) ethical guidelines regarding same-sex sexual orientation. While homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual II as a disorder, the Catholic Church upholds same-sex sexual acts as grave depravity and disordered. Catholic counselors may face the dilemma of adhering to their religious tenets or their professional guidelines in working with gay men and lesbian women clients. Previous research has indicated that values conflicts between religious beliefs and ACA Ethical Codes on same-sex sexual orientation have resulted in legal issues due to counselors refusing therapeutic relationships or providing substandard therapy to gay men and lesbian women clients. An extensive literature review revealed no studies that exclusively focused on the disconnect between the Catholic Church's tenets and the ACA Ethical Codes. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the experience of values conflicts of Catholic counselors while working with gay men and lesbian women clients. Interpretative phenomenological analysis guided the analysis of data collected from interviews with 9 Catholic counselor participants. Six major themes emerged from the analysis: challenges, comfortable, identification with Catholic faith, personal view of Catholic position, referral, and multicultural training. The study provides insight to counselor educators and supervisors in improving multicultural competence of counselors and students. The study is an important contribution to the existing literature and would enhance social change initiatives through support and acceptance of gay men and lesbian women, which the counseling profession advocates.