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Mon, Aug 10


Online Event

Spiritual Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Among LGBTQ Youth

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Spiritual Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Among LGBTQ Youth
Spiritual Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Among LGBTQ Youth

Time & Location

Aug 10, 2020, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Online Event

About the Event

Kelsey Pacha

Training Description

Sparse research and resources exist for care professionals working to support LGBTQ youth who have been exposed to negative theological messages and perhaps experienced religiously-based family rejection related to their coming out process and/or gender transition. Educators and clinicians—including social workers, therapists, and psychologists—often do not receive any kind of training related to religious and spiritual competency, let alone information tailored to identities under the LGBTQ umbrella, despite its potential impact on family acceptance, identity development, mental health outcomes, and social behavior. This workshop explores two emerging concepts in psychology--spiritual abuse and spiritual trauma, examining common anti-trans theological messages and their mental health effects on LGBTQ youth. Special attention will be paid to how these damaging messages relate to systemic harm including bullying, homelessness, and substance abuse. Attendees will share their experiences in small and large groups, explore the clinical and logistical resources available to assist clients and their families, collaborate on a case study, and leave with resources for further exploration. This workshop includes a LGBTQ 101 portion reviewing three dimensions of gender, terminology, and pronoun best practices to ensure a solid foundation for all participants to engage how religious and spiritual messages affect LGBTQ youth.

Learning Objectives

  • Become familiar with three dimensions of gender (identity, biology, and expression) and reflect on their own experiences with gender. 
  • Learn terms related to LGBTQ youth, including terms to avoid.
  • Practice using gender-neutral pronouns and roleplaying what to do when someone is misgendered. 
  • Learn about LGBTQ people and religion
  • Become familiar with the concept of spiritual trauma and three+ negative theological messages about being LGBTQ
  • Identify connections between these messages and negative mental health outcomes
  • Reflect on their own relationship to religion and spirituality
  • Collaborate on a case study and explore the complexities of multiple spiritual identities and systems on LGBTQ youth.
  • Develop best practices to address religious and spiritual concerns in their individual provider context.


9:00-9:15   Introductions: name, gender pronoun, one thing you wish to learn. Presenter shares his journey as a trans man who has worked in faith and non-profit contexts. Review Personal action plan.

9:15-9:35   Self-reflection activity: Why are we here?

9:35-9:40   Intersectionality—viewing person in context of all identities.

9:40-10:00  Coming Out Stars activity.

10:00-10:15 Break (CEUs will not be issued for this time)

10:15-10:25 Debrief Coming Out Stars.

10:25-10:30 Difference b/w gender and sexuality. 3 dimensions of sexuality.

10:30-10:55 Gender 101—3 Dimensions of Gender: gender biology, gender expression, and gender identity. Pair share self-reflection questions for each axis. SOGIE Friend/Pronoun practices, Gender Terminology handouts.

10:55-11:00 Genderbread person/Gender Gumby activity. 


11:05-11:25 Exploration of terms related to gender expansive identities (i.e. transgender, genderqueer.) Small group term matching activity. Term matching handout.

11:25-11:35 Discussion of gender pronouns. Practice asking others what their pronouns are, sharing their pronouns, and using various pronouns to refer to someone in the third person in pairs.


11:35-12:00 Roleplaying activity—2 scenarios about correcting when someone is misgendered. Large group discussion. Pronoun best practices. Pronoun best practices handout.

12:00-12:30 LUNCH (CEUs will not be issued for this time)

12:30-12:50 Review intersectionality and watch video. Discussion: How do these individuals’ multiple identities affect their experiences as transmen? What kinds of barriers might they experience and how can a provider support them?

12:50-1:00  Diagnoses and controversies.

1:00-1:20   Gender ID development—brief overview.


1:20-1:35   Learn about health disparities for LGBTQ people and how they relate to social service systems. Foster youth info.

1:35-1:45   Microaggressions—how they impact mental health.


1:45-1:55   Mental health impact of support. 

1:55-2:15   Discuss research about LGBTQ people and religion, provider bias. Research handout. 

2:15-2:30   Introduce concept of spiritual trauma and spiritual abuse: history, sources, connection to mental health.


2:30-2:50   Discuss three common anti-LGBTQ theological messages and their respective connections to mental health outcomes. Discuss nuanced differences between anti-trans and anti-LGBQ theologies.


2:50-3:05   Break (CEUs will not be issued for this time)

3:05-3:20   Video and discussion about intersecting identities. (10:24-14:18 “Growing Up Transgender and Mormon” National Geographic video)

3:20-3:35   Discuss video.

3:35-3:55   Individuals complete personal inventory. Personal inventory pair share, then small groups generate best practice ideas based on what they’ve discussed and share with the large group. Personal inventory handout. 

3:55-4:20   Presenter shares best practice recommendations & group activity: Spiritual Life Map, guided meditation, Gender Support Plan.

4:20-4:50   Groups collaborate on a case study and share out their recommendations with the large group.

4:50-5:00   Question and answer period.

Meet Our Trainer

Kelsey Pacha, MA, M.Div. is a trans man who has worked with marginalized communities for 15+ years in a variety of settings. He holds a Master of Religion and Psychology, Master of Divinity, and Certificate of Sexuality and Religion from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Psychological Services from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. He is the owner of Kelsey Pacha Consulting, which supports the work of institutions and individuals in increasing their capacity for cultural humility and social justice-informed institutional change. Kelsey offers educational trainings and LGBTQ workplace policy expertise with an emphasis on practical skills, identity awareness, and personal empowerment. He regularly works with corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion officers and LGBTQ affinity groups, as well as legal, clinical, medical, and direct service (including child welfare and faith leader) personnel. For more information, visit or email

This course meets the qualifications for (7) BBS CEUs for LCSWs and MFTs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences & is provided by Fred Finch Youth Center, CAMFT Provider #045295.

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