Counseling strategies with lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients: An online analogue study

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The differences of three approaches to addressing a client's sexual orientation in an initial counseling session were investigated. Utilizing an online analogue method, participants were assigned to read and rate a hypothetical counseling vignette between a White, gay male client and a White, heterosexual male therapist. Participants were randomly assigned to Counselor A, who talked about the client's sexual orientation directly, Counselor B, who talked about the client's sexual orientation indirectly, or Counselor C, who did not mention the client's sexual orientation. It was found that addressing a client's sexual orientation in a first session was associated with higher ratings of general and multicultural competence and a greater willingness of the participant to discuss issues of sexual orientation with the hypothetical counselor. Addressing culture either directly or indirectly was rated more highly than not addressing culture at all. No differences in perceptions of counselor approach were found either by race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or previous experience in therapy. More generally, it was found that perceived general competence, multicultural competence, and working alliance were predictive of how willing participants would be to discuss both issues of sexual orientation and other issues with the hypothetical counselor. Multicultural competence contributed unique variance over and above general competence and working alliance. Results suggest that empirical efforts to investigate multicultural counseling competence may be enriched by including sexual orientation.