About the Program

LGBT Program

The Affirmative Therapy with LGBTQ+ Clients courses are designed to address the knowledge gap of behavioral health professionals working with LGBT individuals, couples, and families. LGBTQ+ people are entering counseling requiring more episodes of care and experiencing greater behavioral health disparities than their heterosexual counterparts. Our program is constructed to:
  • review the most current understandings in the field; 
  • focus on evidence-based social science;
  • spotlight LGBTQ+ competency guidelines;
  • challenge heteronormative bias that can enter the therapy room through both the therapist’s guiding theoretical foundations and the clients own belief systems.

With greater societal awareness of differences in sexual/affectional orientation and gender expression and identity, people are coming out at younger ages and in ways unlike previous research has informed us. Many individuals, families, schools, and communities are looking to our field to provide guidance, increase protective factors, and respond in a culturally appropriate manner across all practice settings.

The LGBTQ+ elective concentration is open to our SMU Counseling program students, licensed mental health professionals, and graduate students in other mental health disciplines and/or from other programs. Students can take one or all three courses during our convenient weekend class format offered during each academic year. Graduate credit is awarded for each completed course. Many boards accept graduate credits for their continuing education requirements. A certificate of completion in Affirmative Therapy with LGBTQ+ Clients is awarded to those that complete all three courses. 

LGBTQ+ Competency Training Course Descriptions

Affirmative Therapy with LGBTQ+ Individuals: Advocacy Across the Lifespan

HDCN 6355

Introduces a culturally competent framework to facilitate understanding of theories, legislation, and practice that inform work with LGBTQ+ individuals. Topics include intersectionality and sexual/affectional minority identity formation; gender identity; internalized homoprejudice; transference and countertransference issues; religion and spirituality; the harmful effects of reparative therapy; physical and mental health issues; the socio-political history and current climate; HIV/AIDS; substance abuse issues; and barriers to affirmative and effective services. Students learn strategies to become effective change agents, leaders, and advocates with the populations they serve and their local, national, and global communities.

Affirmative Therapy with Transgender and GN-C Clients

HDCN 6356

Provides the knowledge and skills to work with gender non-conforming and transgender clients within community agencies, political and policy-making settings, college/university settings, healthcare systems, and prison systems. Issues such as homelessness, substance abuse, violence, victimization, and other social service and healthcare disparities are examined as inequities that social change agents can address in order to improve community affirmation and responsiveness to this population.

Affirmative Therapy with LGBTQ+  Couples and Families

HDCN 6357

Explores the skills necessary to work effectively and affirmatively with LGBTQ+ couples and families. Addresses culturally competent interventions and strategies to address the coming out/living out process, family planning, marriage and divorce. All issues/topics are viewed through a multicultural and diversity lens while considering the impact of prejudice, stigma, and oppression.

Who Should Apply

LGBT First ClassSMU Counseling program students, licensed mental health professionals, and graduate students in other mental health disciplines and/or from other programs. Students come from a variety of backgrounds, including counseling, psychology, medical, clinical social work, school counseling, marriage and family, substance misuse specialists, and other mental health fields.

In addition to Graduate Credit, Licensed Mental Health Professional will also received 42.5 hours of CEU credits.

Outside Scholarship Opportunities for LGBT and Ally Students

Prospective students are encouraged to explore outside scholarship and funding resources. Below are some helpful links with more information about organizations which provide scholarships for LGBT and ally students.

The Human Rights Campaign has a database of scholarships for LGBT scholars across the country: 

The nonprofit group FinAid.org has a web page of LGBT scholarship opportunities:

The Point Foundation funds individual LGBT graduate and undergraduate scholars through an annual competitive process. Point only funds students enrolled in terminal degree programs (e.g. Masters, Doctoral, Medical) but financial awards can be applied to SMU tuition expenses for SMU Counseling students dually enrolled in the LGBT specialty courses.

Campus Pride National Scholarship Database 
This is a comprehensive list of scholarships and funding resources that are LGBT focused.

Applicants may also come across other opportunities by conducting a web search of their own.

LGBT Competency Course Admissions for Non-Degree Seeking Students

  1. Submit official transcripts; requirement 3.0 GPA. Submit transcripts directly to the addresses listed below: (click here to link to transcript request form)
    • If sent electronically:

    • If sent through the physical mail:
      Graduate Application Processing
      PO Box 518
      Dallas, TX 75275-0518

  2. Sign Consent Form
  3. Once application is processed, the applicant will receive an email with instructions on submitting a background check and providing proof of liability insurance. Both must be received one week prior to the first day of class.
  4. SMU's Masters in Counseling program requires a minimum TOEFL score of 100 on the internet-based test with the following minimum section scores: Listening (26), Reading (26), Writing (24), and Speaking (24).


  1. Graduate students will have enrollment priority 
  2. No PONI Day interview required
  3. No Advising provided

Apply now

Effective Fall 2021, tuition for classes in the Master's Degree program will be $2604 per 3-credit hour class ($868 per credit hour).