Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exploring Therapeutic Experiences of Gay Male Clients Who Currently Identify, or Who Formerly Identified, as One of Jehovah's Witnesses
by Mundell, Grant D., Psy.D., Union Institute and University, 2016, 105; 10170627
Abstract (Summary)

Gay men from conservative Christian denominations like the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW), where a non-heterosexual identity is considered ungodly, experience difficulties integrating their sexual identity into such a religious identity (Brooke, 2005). This study explored the therapeutic experiences of gay male individuals who aspired to reconcile their spiritual identities as current, or former Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) with their concurrent non-heterosexual identities. The purpose of this research was to identify specific interventions and processes in therapy that these individuals highlight as having helped them (or hindered them) syncretize their gay sexual orientation with their spiritual beliefs and practices.

Utilizing elements of the Enhanced Critical Incident Technique (Butterfield, Borgen, Maglio, & Amundson, 2005) eight gay men who are, or were, Jehovah’s Witnesses and who had participated in psychotherapy were interviewed in order to identify aspects of their therapeutic experience that they found helped them in their desire to integrate their religious identities and their sexual orientation. Elements of the psychotherapy experience that participants identified as important included the establishment of a safe therapeutic environment, the therapists’ use of self-disclosure and active engagement in therapy, the therapists’ willingness to learn about Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs, and the importance of the therapists’ cultural competence in professional practice. The findings of the study revealed that client-therapist connection, therapeutic engagement, and the act of empowering gay JW clients were critical in facilitating the integration of competing sexual and religious identities for the participants. The best practices identified by the participants can inform the development of culture-specific training for therapists who treat JW gay men, and suggest areas for further research.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: O'Neill, Margarita
Commitee: Dobbins, James, Lax, William
School: Union Institute and University
Department: Psychology Progam: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-B 78/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, GLBT Studies, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Gay, Jehovah’s witness, Psychotherapy, Religious identity, Sexual identity
Publication Number: 10170627
ISBN: 978-1-369-24676-6
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