COLORS LGBTQ Youth Counseling Center Serves As Innovative Model for Mental Health Counseling Centers

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Affirmative-based counseling filling the mental health care gap for LGBTQ youth. COLORS counselors are trained in LGBT-affirmative therapy through Antioch University Los Angeles’ LGBT Specialization in Clinical Psychology.

COLORS LGBTQ Youth Counseling Center (Colors), a leader in providing affirmative-psychoanalytical-based mental health services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning youth and young adults, is filling the mental health care gap for LGBTQ youth by providing free and affirmative-based community counseling. Mental health problems have been called “the major chronic diseases of childhood,” particularly among LGBT youth. Mental health issues usually emerge before people enter high school, yet the average time between when intervention is needed and treatment is received is nine years. Only about a quarter of youth with mental health issues see a mental health professional, and yet even then not enough care is often delivered to make a difference. Colors however, provides a new and innovative solution to address the lack of mental health care access for LGBTQ youth, while helping them to heal and become more whole, empowered and informed of their history and future potential. Since its launch in 2012, Colors has provided over 2,100 free counseling sessions for youth and their families.

“Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth suffer because they come from non-supportive environments where they are belittled, bullied, cast out or shamed for just being who they are, but there is something we can do to address this public health crisis,” says COLORS Director Dr. Douglas Sadownick. “Through therapy uniquely tailored to meet the needs of LGBTQ youth, we can address the oppressive feelings and thoughts which stem from a society and family system that does not honor the special gifts of being an LGBTQ person.”

Colors LGBT Counseling Center is a program of Antioch University Los Angeles (AULA). Sadownick, who is the co-founder and director of the LGBT Specialization in Clinical Psychology at AULA—now in its seventh year—has developed a “core curriculum” that teaches student therapists about LGBT-affirmative therapy. They are trained in LGBT History and Myth, multiculturalism, and the importance of LGBT sexuality and spirituality. All Colors counselors are trained in this program, which is one of the nation’s first graduate specialization programs devoted specifically to LGBTQ-affirmative counseling based upon psychoanalytically-oriented principals for LGBTQ youth.                                                                    

In addition, counselors are provided on-going training to ensure that Colors LGBTQ Youth Counseling Center and the program adopts the latest treatments and best practices available for LGBTQ youth as recommended by the American Psychological Association, as well as the most recent research and literature.

LGBTQ youth are at high risk for mental health issues and suicide, because of societal heterosexism, familial rejection, religious oppression and a lack of support for who they are as LGBTQ individuals, but they are among the least likely to seek help. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, and LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives. Statistically, LGBTQ youth who come from highly rejecting families are nine times more likely to have attempted suicide than their LGBT peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.

“We continue to see the negative results in communities across this country as a result of insufficient access to affirmative and proactive mental health care,” adds Sadownick. “Colors provides an affirming environment to help LGBTQ youth identify these unresolved issues of oppression inside of them. We also help our youth to trust what we call a contributive `spirit-force’ in being LGBTQ, which can be discovered through therapy.”

Colors Mission: Colors LGBTQ Youth Counseling Center provides free LGBT-Affirmative counseling to youth 24 and under in the Greater Los Angeles area. To learn more, visit, Facebook and Twitter @ColorsLGBTQ.

Antioch University Los Angeles (AULA) provides a rigorous and progressive education to prepare students for the complexities of today's diverse societies. AULA, a non-profit institution and part of the Antioch University system, has served the greater Los Angeles area for 40 years. The core values of social justice, service to the community and lifelong learning lie at the heart of the BA degree completion program and master’s degree programs in Organizational Management, Education and Teacher Credentialing, Psychology, Creative Writing, and Urban Sustainability.

Inspired by the work of pioneering educator Horace Mann, Antioch University provides learner-centered education to empower students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, economic, and environmental justice. With campuses in Keene, New Hampshire, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Seattle, and Yellow Springs, Ohio, Antioch University is a bold and enduring source of innovation in higher education. The University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. Visit us at

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Karen Hamilton
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