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LGBTQ Psychology Emphasis

Leading-Edge Research & Training Opportunities

Identity and orientation. Stigma and self-esteem. Stress and resiliency. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities have diverse and complex mental health needs that historically have been overlooked.

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From theory and research to clinical approaches, Palo Alto University’s unique LGBTQ Area of Emphasis focuses on expanding our understanding and treatment of these under-served populations.

This supplemental training program within our generalist Clinical Psychology Program gives students advanced knowledge and skills to meet the highest standards in the field of LGBTQ Clinical Psychology.

We emphasize quantitative and mixed methods and provide opportunities to form partnerships with LGBTQ communities and learn community participatory approaches to research.

LGBTQ Area of Emphasis

This program is unique within clinical psychology training programs in the U.S. and prepares our graduates to meet the complex, diverse mental health needs of LGBTQ populations in the 21st century.

LGBTQ Area Emphasis Objectives


Students take the LGBTQ Issues in Psychotherapy course (CLIN 838-01), which provides foundational knowledge to understand theory, research, social issues, and clinical approaches to working with sexual and gender minority populations.

Clinical Practice

You will receive LGBTQ-specific supervision and clinical training at our in-house community training clinic, the Sexual and Gender Identities Clinic (SGIC) during their second year in the program. Students may also complete supplemental training at external practicum sites throughout the Bay Area; approval of these sites as a substitute for training in the SGIC will be approved on a case-by-case basis by the Area of Emphasis Director.

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Your dissertation research will include a focus on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Palo Alto University Faculty Kimberly_Balsam
Kimberly F. Balsam, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychology

Director of the LGBTQ Area of Emphasis, Director of the Center for LGBTQ Evidence-Based Applied Research (CLEAR). Past President of the American Psychological Association’s Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.


 All 2nd-year students in the Clinical Psychology PhD program (and in good standing) are eligible to participate in this area of emphasis.

In addition, all Clinical Psychology PhD students are welcome to take the LGBTQ Issues in Psychotherapy course as an elective, and to participate in the SGIC (pending available space).

Completion of the LGBTQ Area of Emphasis

Completion of the LGBTQ Area of Emphasis will be granted upon completion of the LGBTQ Issues in Psychotherapy Course, the SGIC or approved equivalent practicum experience, approval of the dissertation proposal abstract by the Area of Emphasis Director, and approval of the final dissertation defense by the dissertation committee.

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Center for LGBTQ Evidence Based Applied Research

Students also have an opportunity to work with the Center for LGBTQ Evidence Based Applied Research (CLEAR). Since 2007, the Center for LGBTQ Evidence Based Applied Research (CLEAR) has provided PAU students and faculty with funding and support for studying these under-served populations.

PAU's Research Labs

All students in the PhD Clinical Psychology Program are required to participate in faculty-led research groups during their second and third years in the program – for 6 consecutive quarters.

Frequently Asked Questions

PhD in Clinical Psychology: Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where can I find information.....

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LGBTQ Area of Emphasis FAQ's