Date of Conferral





Counselor Education and Supervision


Corrine Bridges


Sexual minorities (SM) are at a greater risk for experiencing a serious mental illness (SMI) compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Furthermore, SM with a SMI continue to experience stigma and discrimination that leads to more negative outcomes and a greater need for counseling services. Current researchers have not adequately addressed the specific needs of SM with a SMI and how to prepare counselors to work with this population. Furthermore, most SM with a SMI find that counseling services are inadequate and do not meet their unique needs. The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study, grounded in a Husserlian philosophical and Minority Stress Model conceptual framework, was to explore the experiences and perceptions of counselors who provide counseling services to SM with a SMI. Data was collected from six participants using a semistructured interview and followed a thematic data analysis process, ensuring thematic saturation. The results of this study highlighted many themes regarding the unique needs of SM with a SMI, such as their multiple minority stressors, negative counseling experiences, and the impact of family, as well as counselor's perception regarding the lack of preparation in graduate school to work with SM with a SMI. Study findings may improve counselors' understanding of the needs of SM with a SMI so they may provide more effective counseling services. Also, this study highlights the importance of training counselors to work with this population and may bolster the efforts of counselor educators.