Mental Health Implications in Mormon Women' s Experiences with Same-Sex Attraction: a Qualitative Study
Originally Published In
The Counseling Psychologist
Given research suggesting that individuals in conservative religions experience conflict between religious beliefs and feelings of same-sex sexuality, this study explores the mental health impact of Mormon women who experience same-sex sexuality. Twenty-three Mormon women participated in semi-structured individual interviews about their experiences with same-sex sexuality. Interview questions asked about participants' experiences with same-sex sexuality and the LDS Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), how this experience affected their mental health, and what types of mental health treatment they engaged in during their process of reconciliation. Data were analyzed following phenomenological methodology. Themes included the following: experiences with mood disorders, self-worth, suicidality, treatment attempts, reparative therapy, counselor’s agenda, impact of family and community, and mental health recovery. When treating women who experience conflict, counselors should assess self-worth, suicidality, and the level of community and familial support. Referral to group counseling can support self-acceptance of same-sex sexuality through normalization. Future research should examine specific practice interventions and explore impacts of other intersecting identities.