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St. Louis University opens group therapy clinic for queer, transgender youth

The clinic sessions will be facilitated by faculty and graduate-level therapy students. Pictured (from left) are graduate students Erika McClellan and Dasha Carver, along with Katie Heiden-Rootes, Ph.D., LMFT, assistant professor of medical family therapy. (Photo by Maggie Rotermund/SLU)

ST. LOUIS — Saint Louis University’s Center for Counseling and Family Therapy announced Friday that it will offer family group therapy for queer and transgender youth and their caregivers.

The sessions are open to adolescents ages 13-20 and a parent or a guardian, the university said in an announcement. The sessions will be led by Katie Heiden-Rootes, Ph.D., LMFT, assistant professor of medical family therapy in Family and Community Medicine at the SLU School of Medicine, and will include three graduate-level therapy students.

“The number 1 predictor of suicide and depression in LGBTQ youth is parent misunderstanding or lack of support,” Heiden-Rootes said in the announcment. “And if that is based on your identity, who you are, then that wound is extremely painful.”

Heiden-Rootes said the therapy sessions will work on the one to one relationship between LGBTQ adolescent and parent. The sessions will begin with a full group activity before breaking out into parent and youth sessions. Adolescents and parents will talk about emotion regulation when talking about hard things, dreams for their families and futures, positive parenting skills, changing expectations and the need for both parent supervision and adolescent autonomy.

“We want to help both the adolescents and their parents work on really hearing each other and reconnecting with each other,” Heiden-Rootes said. “You have the teens at a point where they are naturally pushing away from their parents, but they also still need to know that they are loved and supported.”

The group will meet for eight weeks, the announcement stated. Sessions will be held from 4:30-6 p.m. on Tuesday nights. The cost is $10 per session. Participating families will need to complete a standard 90-minute intake session prior to the first group meeting. The first sessions are planned for April. For more information, email ccft@slu.edu.

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