Category Archives: Conferences

APA in Washington, DC

DCThis week is the 122nd Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (APA). We are meeting in Washington, DC. I was just up there to work with the National Institute for Corrections on the various challenges that arise for incarcerated persons who are LGBTI. On this trip I will be co-chairing a symposium titled Integrating Identities – Spirituality, Religion, and Sexuality. The other co-chair is Joshua Wolff, a graduate of the Rosemead School of Professional Psychology and an emerging voice in LGBT studies in faith-based institutions of higher education among other areas of interest.

The papers presented here should be interesting. In addition to a study I will be presenting (co-authored with three students and research team members titled, “Experiences of Sexual Minority Students and Alumni in Faith-Based Higher Education”), Stephen Stratton (Asbury Seminary) and Janet Dean (Asbury University) will present a paper titled, “Identity Formation in Context: The Intersection of Sexual Identity and Religious Spiritual Identity.” They will be reviewing relevant themes from two previously-published studies of sexual and religious identity among Christian college students who are also sexual minorities.

The other two papers come from psychologists with expertise in LGBT issues. Glenda Russell (University of Colorado-Boulder) is presenting a paper titled, “Open and Affirming Congregation: Opening What? Affirming Whom?” Finally, Caitlin Ryan (San Francisco State University) is presenting a paper titled, “Beyond Either/Or: Helping Religious Families to Support Their LGBT Children.”

The two discussants (or colleagues who read the papers/PP slides in advance and comment on them and related themes they deem relevant) are John Gonsiorek (Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity) and Tamara Anderson (Biola University).

In addition to this symposium, we have two posters from the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity on Thursday and Saturday. (A poster session involves displaying research findings and discussing them with other professionals.) The Thursday poster is titled, “What are Helpful and Unhelpful Resources to Religious Parents After a Gay Child Comes Out?” This should be interesting in light of Caitlyn Ryan’s presentation noted above and her work directing The Family Acceptance Project. The data we are presenting comes from a collaborative effort with The Marin Foundation and is based on interviews of Christian parents whose children had come out.

The Saturday poster is titled, “Youth Ministers: Attitudes Toward and Experiences with Sexual Minorities.” This poster presents data collected at two youth ministry events where attendees were invited to share their experiences with their churches and with sexual minority youth. This poster is one of several presentations we hope to have out in the next year or so on youth ministry and youth ministry education and LGBT issues facing the church.

There are many other exciting things happening at APA, but these are a few highlights of things I’ll be involved in.



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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Conferences, Presentations, Research


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National Youth Workers Convention

Later this week I will be heading out to Nashville to speak at the National Youth Workers Convention. I had the opportunity to speak earlier this fall in San Diego with the same team and organization and to what we might think of as the west coast youth workers. They are an incredible group. Not only are they full of energy and a passion to serve Christ, but they love the kids they work with and have a heart for the church in this next generation.

When I was in San Diego, though, I participated in several activities outside of the convention (meetings at churches, meetings at universities), so I was away from the convention more than I was there. In Nashville, I plan to sit in on some of the sessions with folks who are showcasing their talents. It would be great to hear Amena Brown bring spoken word to the stage, as well as Rend Collective Experiment and Propaganda.

Before we go on, let’s take a moment to check out Amena Brown:

That’s pretty good spoken word.

The other treat for me is the opportunity to present with two former students who are now developing their own careers as psychologists. Experiences like this highlight one of the real blessings of being in academics for a little while; you get the opportunity to see students excel in the field and in their own sense of purpose and calling. There is not much that I enjoy more than looking over and seeing a former student making a presentation that truly enhances how people are going to work with youth in the weeks and months and years to come.

zondervanWe will be presenting 7-hours worth of material in two pre-conference workshops on sexual identity and youth ministry. These presentations will draw in part from my book, Understanding Sexual Identity and cover what we know and do not know about sexual orientation, particularly in the areas of etiology and change, as well as research on sexual identity development and synthesis, working with parents (and some of the unique challenges they face, including evangelical subculture shame), addressing co-occurring issues for youth (for example, depression), how to foster coping skills in teens, and so on.

We will also participate in a panel discussion the one evening. In San Diego, that was a good experience with several interesting questions for each of us, and that provided a more relaxed atmosphere for us to think through some things together and with those who were hungry for more. Then we will do a breakout session for those in attendance who did not do the pre-con. That session provides a kind of general overview of research on sexual identity, milestone events, and the challenges young people in the church face as they navigate various messages from the church they are raised in as well as from the mainstream gay community. In any case, it promises to be a great couple of days in Nashville.


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CAPS National in Portland

imagesThe Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS) National Conference is in Portland this week, April 4-6. The conference theme is Cross-Cultural Care & Counsel. A couple of grads from our program who worked with me at the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity (ISSI) are presenting on their work with gender variant clients.

On Thursday I am going to participate in a panel discussion with three other psychologists as we discuss examples of how Christians translate their faith and associated concerns that arise with the broader profession. I will discuss our research on sexual identity development and synthesis. On Friday, I will also do a workshop and demonstration of  Sexual Identity Therapy.


Posted by on April 3, 2013 in Conferences


In a couple of weeks I’ll be in New Orleans to speak to Chief Student Development Officers at CCCU institutions. The CCCU is the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and they are hosting a conference in New Orleans focused primarily on student development issues and concerns. Where do I fit in? Several years ago I was named senior fellow to conduct a study of sexual minorities at Christian colleges. That study was a collaborative project with Steve Stratton and Janet Dean (Asbury). It was published in 2009 in the Journal of Psychology and Theology.

Our research group got together again and joined with Mike Lastoria (Houghton) to conduct a similar study at more institutions. That study is currently under review, but I will present some of the findings from it at the CCCU event in a couple of weeks.

As a frequent consultant at CCCU-affiliated institutions, I will also provide addresses on concepts that have seemed relevant to those consultations – concepts like stewardship of sexuality and relating to others with “convicted civility.” it should be enjoyable and much better than the last trip to New Orleans (a symposium at the American Psychiatric Association that dealt with the sexual orientation change debates).

I was told by a friend to look for a New Orleans staple: alligator on a stick. (Frankly, I think I’d rather face the psychiatrists again…)


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CAPS National Conference 2011

Several students and faculty members from the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at Regent University are presenting at the Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS) National Conference this weekend in Indianapolis. The theme of the CAPS National Conference is “Resilience and Renewal.”

  • Donald Walker, Ph.D. will present a paper entitled: “Treating Trauma in Christian Counseling: An Agenda for Research and Training.”
  • William Hathaway, Ph.D. will give a presentation entitled: “Executive Functioning, Self-Regulation, and Spirituality.”
  • Glen Moriarty, Psy.D., along with colleagues from BIOLA university will give a presentation entitled: “Client God Images: Theory, Research, & Clinical Practice.”
  • April Cunion, Psy.D., Jennifer Ripley, Ph.D., & Vickey Maclin, Psy.D. will present a paper entitled: “The Impact of Hope Focused Marital Therapy on Common Couples Violence.”
  • Vickey Maclin, Psy.D., Ryan Adams, Tiffany Erspamer, and Chelsae Roby-Pistello will present a paper entitled: “Perspectives on Mental Health from Elderly Caucasians and African Americans.”
  • Jennifer Ripley, Ph.D., Vickey Maclin, Psy.D. Audrey Atkinson, M.S., Brittany Rainwater, Tiffany Erspamer, Alicia White, Tabitha Sierra, Camden Morgante, Katherine Chisholm, Hilary Pethtel, & Brittany Montes will present a paper entitled: “Religious Accommodative Couples Therapy: Ethics and Clinical Considerations.”
  • Trista Carr, Psy.D., & Mark Yarhouse, Psy.D. will give a presentation entitled: “Sexual-Minority Christians: Data Exposition and Clinical Considerations.”
  • Camden Morgante, Jennifer Ripley, Ph.D., & James Sells, Ph. D. will present a poster entitled: “Grace and Trust in Couples Therapy.”
  • Tabitha Sierra  & Jennifer Ripley, Ph.D. will present a poster entitled: “The Efficacy of Hope Focused Couple Therapy with Military Couples.”
  • Justin Dewberry, M.A., along with a colleague from Palm Beach Atlantic University will give a presentation entitled: “Measuring Therapeutic Change and Spiritual Formation with the Means of Grace.”
  • Donald Walker, Ph.D., along with various other colleagues will give a presentation entitled: “Faith and Trauma: Promoting Client, Family, Therapist and Church Resilience.”
  • Glen Moriarty, Psy.D. Jennifer Ripley, Ph.D., & William Hathaway, Ph.D. with a colleague from Rosemead School of Psychology will give a presentation entitled: “Integrating Faith and Psychology: 3 Psychologists Tell Their Stories.”
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Posted by on April 1, 2011 in Conferences


AACC in Branson, Missouri

The American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) is holding its National Conference in Branson, Missouri, this year. Plenary speakers include Larry Crabb, Siang-Yang Tan, Diane Langberg, and Arch Hart. The conference is being held at the Chateau on the Lake Resort. There are a number of tracks, including addictions/recovery, leadership/coaching, pastoral care, grief/trauma, and marriage/family. From all indications, it looks like they are actually full, which means something like 1200 attendees. I know that my session is full, but that’s only 79 people, so someone is holding some very large sessions!

In any case, I’ll head out to Branson tomorrow. My session is Friday and is on homosexuality with a special emphasis on key concepts for parents, pastors, and friends. The concepts will come from Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors and Friends.


Posted by on September 22, 2010 in Conferences


Transgender Christians’ Experiences

This Thursday I’ll be co-presenting an interesting study I conducted with Trista Carr, a student in the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at Regent. The study is interesting to me in part because it is the first one we’ve undertaken that has addressed the relationship between gender identity and religious identity. Specifically, it is a study of 32 self-identified Christians who also self-identified as biologically male but transgender. They provided information on their experiences with local churches, their relationship with God, their spouses, employers, and so on. They also shared ways in which religion was a coping resource. Some even shared how their struggle with gender identity concerns led to a strengthening of their personal faith as Christians.

Here is the abstract from the paper we’ll be presenting:

Though the experiences of transgender persons have been explored to some extent, very few scholars have delved into the relationship between gender identity as a trangender person and religious identity as a Christian. Therefore, the qualitative data described herein reflects the narratives of 32 transgender individuals who are biological males and identify as Christians. The study sought to bring some understanding of the events and processes that occur for this specific population. Although some participants indicated that their gender identity conflict led to a strengthening of their personal faith, others reported a past struggle – often with specific persons or church leadership – and some indicated that they moved away from organized religion in light of their conflict. Many participants in this study still identified religious coping activities tied to their faith tradition as sources of support during present difficulties. Participants also shared experiences with conflicts in their marriages and places of employment.

The study came about through a number of developments over the past several years. Some of those developments included providing consultations to families who were worried that their child might be gay. The children were often presenting with symptoms of Gender Identity Disorder, and some met criteria, while others had symptoms but were sub-threshold for the diagnosis. I’ve also worked with older adolescents and adults who identified as transgender and Christian and were asking for assistance with possible ways to manage their dysphoria and/or conflict with their religious beliefs and values. If you know someone who is transgender or if you’ve worked with this population, you may have a sense for how challenging it can be to fully understand the issues that are involved.

A few years ago I was also introduced by someone who identified as transgender and Christian to an online group of people with similar experiences. This led to the idea of possibly furthering my own understanding of their experiences (and the experiences of adults I’d worked with) by conducting an initial study of some of what they had been dealing with. I brought this idea to the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity (ISSI), the research institute I work with at Regent, and Trista expressed interest in working on it, as did some of our other team members. So we got to work on developing a questionnaire, and we ran it by various members of the community for help with wording, etc. We announced the study through various avenues, and people were able to access it online and provide us with some of their experience with gender and religious identity issues. So the study is a first step, and I hope we are able to follow it up with additional studies that delve into other related areas, but it is a start.

The paper we’ll be presenting is titled, “Transgender Christians’ Experiences: A Qualitative Study.” It will be presented at the Virginia Psychological Association’s (VPA’s) spring convention this Thursday, April 22, from 4-5pm at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott.


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