UMD-PRC Progress Report: Competencies for Mental Health Clinicians working with LGBTQ+ People in Mental Health Care


The University of Maryland Prevention Research Center (UMD-PRC) is one of 26 federally funded Prevention Research Centers in the United States. Each Prevention Research Center is charged with the task of studying “how people and their communities can avoid or counter the risks for chronic illnesses.” The UMD-PRC’s mission is as follows: “In collaboration with LGBTQ+ partner organizations, we promote evidence-based training of students and mental health care providers in culturally sensitive and inclusive practices.”

The UMD-PRC selected the CDC definition of cultural competence to guide the development of the competencies. The CDC defines cultural competence as “effectively operating in different cultural contexts and altering practices to reach different cultural groups.”

The Sexual and Gender Diversity Learning Community (SGDLC) competencies are intended to serve as a complement to the existing official professional competencies for clinical practice produced by various mental health professions, namely the American Counseling Association (ACA), the American Psychological Association (APA), and the National Association of Social Work (NASW). They are also intended to provide guidance to the professions where limited to no guidance is in place at the time of this writing. The SGDLC competencies for clinical practice are intentionally rudimentary in scope. As such, they provide an onramp for clinicians seeking to eventually master the comprehensive practice guidelines within their profession. They can also be used to provide guidance for the creation of educational modules for training programs in which limited faculty expertise is available. The SGDLC competencies outline the basic skills clinicians must acquire as they pursue mastery of the comprehensive guidelines endorsed by specific professional organizations (i.e., APA, ACA, NASW). To that end, the UMD-PRC sought to identify the most essential clinical competencies needed to serve the client population.