Date of Award

12-1-2011

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Fischer, Ann

Abstract

Using Mohr's (2002) model of the heterosexual therapist as the theoretical framework, this study examined lesbian women's perceptions of heterosexual counselors based on heterosexual identity development. Specifically, it was hypothesized that lesbian women's perceptions of a heterosexual counselor would differ based on the counselor's working model of heterosexual identity development, as conceptualized by Mohr (2002). It was also hypothesized that Mohr's integrative working model would be perceived most positively by participants, followed by the politicized, democratic, and lastly the compulsory working model. Participants were 144 self-identified lesbian, gay, and/or queer-identified women surveyed through an email advertisement. Counselor heterosexual identity was operationalized through vignettes portraying dialogues between a counselor and client. Perceptions were measured by the Counselor Effectiveness Rating Scale (CERS; Atkinson & Wampold, 1982) and one item assessing utilization intent. Covariates included positive and negative trait affect, measured by the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988), and internalized homophobia, assessed with the Lesbian Internalized Homophobia Scale (LIHS; Szymanski & Chung, 2001). Results indicated significant differences in perceptions between counselor working models, such that the compulsory counselor was rated significantly lower than the other three counselors, both in terms of credibility and utilization intent. Implications of this study include shedding light on the identity dynamics of privileged group members in a counseling setting, as well as reaffirming the importance of self-knowledge and training experiences for counselors of privilege to increase multicultural competence, especially in terms of sexual orientation.

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