Monday, October 03, 2016


This article intersect me on several different planes, as a senior, as a trans woman, and as a social worker.
Queer Aging: Implications for Social Work Practice with LGBTQ Older Adults
In social work, the current evidence-based practice guidelines for working with LGBTQ older adults are offered by Fredricksen-Goldsen and colleagues (2014) who propose ten practice competencies that “account for the unique circumstances, strengths, and challenges facing LGBT[Q] older adults”
Institute for Public Health
By Vanessa D. Fabbre, PhD, LCSW, Assistant Professor, Brown School
September 7, 2016

Two of these competencies are particularly aligned with social work values and ethics:
  1. Critically analyze personal and professional attitudes toward sexual orientation, gender identity, and age, and understand how factors such as culture, religion, media, and health and human service systems influence attitudes and ethical decision making; and
  2. Understand and articulate the ways that larger social and cultural contexts have negatively impacted LGBT[Q] older adults as a historically disadvantaged population.
These recommended competencies challenge social workers to achieve high levels of self-awareness and understanding of structural forces that influence their context for practice. Yet, how to translate these ideals into actual practice skills may not always be clear. I argue that by embracing a queer aging perspective that relies on critical reflectivity, practitioners are better equipped to fulfill these competencies in their work.
I hear somethings from therapists “well LGBT clients are no different than straight clients” well they are wrong and they are the ones that really need training to understand the differences.
The primary aim of incorporating queer perspectives into practice with older adults is to heighten sensitivity to heteronormativity, heterosexism, and transphobia and to bolster one’s capacity to combat these social forces through practice. But how does one actually go about resisting these norms and promoting change? I argue that more attention to critical reflectivity holds the potential to guide this work.
So, what does this mean in more practical terms for those interested in queer aging? It means practitioners need to be aware of how their own selves both contribute to heteronormative, heterosexist, and transphobic social forces, and are produced by those forces.
When I do training for social workers I point out that a fifth of us reported being discriminated by healthcare providers and how that affects the community.

Now this is music to my ears…
For practitioners who wish to advance their work with LGBTQ older adults, a queer aging perspective that emphasizes critical reflectivity offers a useful guide. Additionally, it also helps to bridge so-called “micro” and “macro” levels of social work practice by encouraging direct practitioners to engage with structural issues in their practice.

A greater understanding and awareness of their own position with respect to these social dynamics, coupled with a goal of social change, holds the potential to advance social work with LGBTQ older adults and prepare the profession to support future generations of this community.
Let me explain that “micro” means on the individual or group level such as a LCSW while “macro” means entire communities such as advocating for new laws or helping the community with access to the healthcare system such as finding them trans friendly providers or helping them change their documentation.

For us a community we really don’t want a therapist that does understand what it is like to walk down the street be harassed or understand the intersection between being able to integrate into society or standing out in a crowd. Knowing that will help healthcare providers tailor the clients’ therapy and to better help them with coping skills.

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