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May 11, 2016

Interview with Teresa Theophano, LMSW on LGBT Social Work

Online MSW Programs
By Jeremy Divinity

[About Teresa Theophano, LMSW]:Teresa Theophano is a graduate of the Hunter College School of Social Work — now known as Silberman — where she earned her MSW in 2004. She is finishing up a post-master’s certificate program in Advanced Clinical Practice at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work, along with completing clinical coursework at the University of Buffalo online.

Currently Teresa serves as the Assistant Director of Care Management at Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), where she supervises several staff members and a social work intern; facilitates support groups for LGBT family caregivers; and works individually with clients, several of whom are homebound or in long-term care settings. Teresa is a board member of Trinity Place Shelter, an LGBT homeless youth shelter, and she co-founded the NYC Queer Mental Health Initiative, a peer support network that offers free biweekly support groups at the Brooklyn Community Pride Center. Last but not least, she is currently co-editing an anthology on LGBT mental health that is under consideration with an academic publisher.

[] Could you please elaborate on the mental, emotional, behavioral, and social effects that discrimination has on members of a marginalized community, such as the LGBT community? How do you address these effects in individual and group therapeutic sessions?

[Teresa Theophano] The history of LGBT communities — and there are many, all of which can differ greatly from each other — includes marginalization and trauma, but also tremendous resilience. While we can’t overlook the fact that homosexuality was considered a mental illness that warranted mention in the DSM until 1973, and that the DSM diagnosis of “gender dysphoria” — formerly gender identity disorder —remains controversial, we must acknowledge the many strengths of community members. I believe that the best approach to clients who are experiencing negative mental, emotional, behavioral, and social effects of discrimination is always a strengths-based one. I focus on the resilience and survival of the amazing individuals with whom I am privileged enough to work.

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