Original Publication
Open Access

Using the Sexual Orientation Counselor Competency Scale (SOCCS) in Mental Health and Healthcare Settings: An Instructor’s Guide

Published: March 6, 2015 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10040

Included in this publication:

  • Instructor's Guide.docx
  • Sexual Orientation Counselor Competency Scale (SOCCS).docx
  • Sexual Orientation Counselor Competency Scale (SOCCS) Scoring Guide.docx

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Across the developmental spectrum, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals experience disproportionate levels of serious psychosocial problems and health disparities. Even though all major medical and mental health professions within the United States endorse LGBT-affirmative clinical treatment as the ethical standard of care, a growing body of research documents limited LGBT competency training within their professional programs. The purpose of the Sexual Orientation Counselor Competency Scale (SOCCS) is to readdress LGBT health disparities by providing mental health and medical providers, trainees, supervisors, researchers, and educators a psychometrically developed and tested self-assessment tool that can examine practitioner barriers to LGBT competent clinical care.

The SOCCS is theoretically grounded in the tripartite multicultural counseling/psychology model and consists of 29 questions with three subscales: (1) Skills, which includes 11 items focused on LGBT affirmative clinical work; (2) Attitudinal Awareness, which includes 10 items examining self-awareness of LGBT biases and stigmatization; and, (3) Knowledge, which consists of eight items assessing knowledge of LGBT psychosocial issues. The SOCCS has been used across an array of applied psychology and counselor training and research settings.

This publication includes the SOCCS Instructor's Guide, SOCCS Instrument, and SOCCS Scoring Guide. The SOCCS Instructor's Guide should be read first and provides information on the purpose, application, usage, psychometric properties, and limitations of the SOCCS. The remaining two resources pertain to the actual administration of three versions of the SOCCS. Version 1 of the SOCCS is most applicable for those clinicians and/or trainees providing mental health services and assesses only sexual orientation competency (i.e., not gender identity/transgender competency). Version 2 is adapted for use among broader healthcare settings and specializations and Version 3 assess transgender clinical competency.

Educational Objectives

By the end of this session, learners will be able to:

  1. Outline the purpose and application of the Sexual Orientation Counselor Competency Scale (SOCCS) within mental health care and broader health sciences education.
  2. Describe implementation strategies and guidelines for using the SOCCS.
  3. Analyze basic psychometric properties and limitations of the SOCCS.

Author Information

  • Markus Bidell, PhD: Hunter College

None to report.

None to report.


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Bidell M. Using the sexual orientation counselor competency scale (SOCCS) in mental health and healthcare settings: an instructor’s guide. MedEdPORTAL. 2015;11:10040. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10040