Gender- and sexuality-minoritised adolescents in DBT: a reflexive thematic analysis of minority-specific treatment targets and experience

Jake Camp, Andre Morris, Helen Wilde, Patrick Smith, Katharine Rimes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Gender- and sexuality-minoritised (GSM) adolescents are at increased risk of self-harm and suicidal behaviours compared with their cisgender and heterosexual peers. This increased risk is thought to be explained in part by exposure to stigma and societal oppression. Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based intervention for self-harm and suicidal behaviour that may have advantages for supporting GSM young people in distress. No study has yet sought to understand what GSM-associated difficulties may be important to consider in DBT for adolescents, or the experiences of GSM young people in a standard DBT programme. Therefore, this study aimed to understand the experiences of GSM young people in DBT and what difficulties and dilemmas associated with their gender and sexuality diversity were thought by them to be important to target in DBT. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 14 GSM young people in a comprehensive DBT programme and were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. The analysis was supported by two further GSM young people who had finished DBT. The findings were split into three over-arching themes (Identity, Impact of Others, and Space for Sexual and Gender Identity in DBT), each with themes within. The identity-based theme included 'identity confusion and acceptance'; the relationship-based themes included 'cis-Heterosexism' and 'community connectedness'; and the space within DBT themes included 'negotiating focus and targeting in DBT' and 'creating safety in DBT'. Findings are discussed in relation to implications and recommendations for therapists working with GSM young people within and outside of DBT. Key learning aims (1) To learn about what gender- and sexuality-minoritised (GSM) young people consider to be important GSM-associated contributors to distress and thus potential treatment targets in DBT. (2) To learn about what GSM young people felt were barriers to negotiating GSM-associated difficulties as a focus in DBT and how safety was created in the therapeutic relationship. (3) To consider potential implications and recommendations for improvements to practice when supporting GSM young people in therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere36
JournalThe Cognitive Behaviour Therapist
Volume16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023

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