Ph.D Clinical Psychology: LGBTQ Psychology Emphasis


At Palo Alto University, we are committed to ensuring that the next generation of clinical psychologists is competent in clinical practice and research with diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) populations.  Our LGBTQ Area of Emphasis is a supplemental training program within a generalist Clinical Psychology Program that provides select students with 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. Students also have an opportunity to work with the Center for LGBTQ Evidence Based Applied Research (CLEAR), which is Directed by Dr. Kimberly Balsam.  In sum, the LGBTQ Area of Emphasis 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 of Emphasis

  1. Classwork: Students will 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.
  2. Clinical practice: Students 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.
  3. Research: Students conduct dissertation research that includes a focus on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. 

Eligibility - 2nd Year Ph.D.

All students who are enrolled in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program and in good standing are eligible to participate in the area of emphasis.  All students in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program are invited to take the LGBTQ Issues in Psychotherapy course as an elective and to participate in the SGIC (pending available space), regardless of their participation in the Area of Emphasis.

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.


For further information, please contact
Kimberly F. Balsam, Ph.D.
Director, LGBTQ Area of Emphasis


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