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Gay Affirmative Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Sexual Minority Youth: A Clinical Adaptation
Sexual minority youth (SMY) are at high risk for negative mental health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidality. However, there has been a disconnect between clinical social work practice and research with SMY, resulting in a lack of rigorous research that demonstrates the use of effective interventions. While cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has long been established as a best practice option for the general adolescent population suffering from mental health problems, knowledge about the use of CBT with SMY lags far behind. Thus, the purpose of this article is to present a clearly defined adaptation of CBT for SMY that integrates gay affirmative practices for youth (e.g., coming out, stigma and discrimination, the role of social support and community). Specifically, the authors: (a) discuss the impact of minority stress on SMY; (b) highlight the specific components of CBT that represent a good fit for SMY and also address the criticisms of using such an approach; (c) consider the importance of using gay affirmative practices with SMY; and (d) offer recommendations for incorporating gay affirmative practices into traditional CBT models to better meet the needs of SMY.