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.

Abstract

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

Disclosures
None to report.

Funding/Support
None to report.


References

  1. Bidell, M. P. (2012). Examining school counseling students' multicultural and sexual orientation competencies through a cross-specialization comparison. Journal of Counseling & Development, 200-207. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-6676.2012.00025.x
  2. Bidell, M. P. (2013). Addressing disparities: The impact of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender graduate counselling course. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 13, 300-307. doi: 10.1080/ 14733145.2012.741139
  3. Bidell, M. P. (2014). Personal and Professional Discord: Examining Religious Conservatism and Lesbian-, Gay-, and Bisexual-Affirmative Counselor Competence. Journal of Counseling and Development, 92, 170-178. doi: 10.1002/j.1556-6676.2014.00145.x
  4. Brooks, L. M., & Inman, A. G. (2013). Bisexual Counseling Competence: Investigating the Role of Attitudes and Empathy. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, 7, 65-86. doi: 10.1080/15538605.2013.756366
  5. Byrd, R, & Hays, D. G., (2013). Evaluating a safe space training for school counselors and trainees using a randomized control group design. Professional School Counseling, 17, 20-13. doi: 10.5330/PSC.n.2013-17.20
  6. Carlson, T. S., McGeorge, C. R., & Toomey, R. B. (2012). Establishing the Validity of the Affirmative Training Inventory: Assessing the Relationship between Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Affirmative Training and Students’ Clinical Competence. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, early on-line. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2012.00286.x
  7. Graham, S. R., Carney, J. S., & Kluck, A. S. (2012). Perceived competency in working with LGB clients: Where are we now? Counselor Education & Supervision, 51, 2-16. doi: 10.1002/j.1556-6978.2012.00001.x
  8. Henke, T., Carlson, T. S., & McGeorge, C. R. (2009). Homophobia and clinical competency: An exploration of couple and family therapists' beliefs. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 8, 325-342. Doi: 10.1080/15332690903246101
  9. McGeorge, C. R., Carlson, T. S., & Toomey, R. B. (2013). An Exploration of Family Therapists' Beliefs about the Ethics of Conversion Therapy: The Influence of Negative Beliefs and Clinical Competence With Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Advanced on-line publication. doi: 10.1111/jmft.12040
  10. McGeorge, C. R., Carlson, T. S., & Toomey, R. B. (2013a). Assessing Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Affirmative Training in Couple and Family Therapy: Establishing the Validity of the Faculty Version of the Affirmative Training Inventory. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Advanced on-line publication. doi: 10.1111/jmft.12054
  11. Murphy, M. J., Park, J., & Lonsdale, N. J. (2006). Marriage and family therapy students' change in multicultural counseling competencies after a diversity course. Contemporary Family Therapy: An International Journal, 28, 303-311. doi: 10.1007/s10591-006-9009-8
  12. Nova, E.A., McGeorge, C.R., & Stone Carlson, T. (2013). Bisexuality and lesbian, gay, and bisexual affirmative training: An exploration of family therapy students' beliefs and clinical experiences. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 25, 212-232. doi: 10.1080/08952833.2013.777886
  13. O’Hara, C., Dispenza, F., Brack, G., & Blood, R. A. C. (2013). The Preparedness of Counselors-in-Training to Work with Transgender Clients: A Mixed Methods Investigation. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling. Advanced online publication. doi: 10.1080/15538605.2013.812929
  14. Ober, A. M., Granello, D. H., & Wheaton, J. E. (2012). Grief counseling: An investigation of counselors' training, experience, and competencies. Journal of Counseling & Development, 90, 150-159. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-6676.2012.00020.x
  15. Rock, M., Carlson, T. S., & McGeorge, C. R. (2010). Does affirmative training matter? Assessing CFT Students' beliefs about sexual orientation and their level of affirmative training. Journal of Marital & Family Therapy, 36, 171-184. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2009.00172.x
  16. Rutter, P. A., Estrada, D., Ferguson, L. K., & Diggs, G. A. (2008). Sexual orientation and counselor competency: The impact of training on enhancing awareness, knowledge and skills. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, 2, 109-125. doi: 10.1080/15538600802125472


Citation

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