Counselors for Social Justice (CSJ), a division of the American Counseling Association (ACA), today announced that Dr. Caitlin Ryan will receive its 2012 Mary Smith Arnold Anti-Oppression Award. The award will honor Dr. Ryan’s work as Director of the Family Acceptance Project (FAP), a community research, intervention, education and policy initiative that studies the impact of family acceptance and rejection on the health, mental health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth and develops resources and approaches to decrease risk and promote well-being for LGBT youth in the context of their families. FAP is affiliated with SF State University.
The Anti-Oppression Award is given each year to professional counselors and counselor educators who have a demonstrated commitment to challenging oppression in their schools and communities. Dr. Ryan received this award for her groundbreaking research and family intervention work that links family acceptance and rejection of LGBT youth with health-related risk and wellness, including depression, suicide, and HIV, as well as self-esteem, life-satisfaction and well-being.
Based on this research, Dr. Ryan has developed multi-lingual educational and family intervention materials to help ethnically and religiously diverse families support their LGBT children for use by families and a wide range of health, mental health, school-based and family practice providers. Not only is Dr. Ryan with her team the first to publish studies that show the relationship between family accepting and rejecting behaviors during adolescence with suicidality, sexual health risks, substance use and well-being in young adulthood, but she is also the first to develop a family-affirming model for interventions across systems of care that engages diverse family members as potential sources of support rather than adversaries. This work is changing the paradigm for working with LGBT youth by providers and youth service organizations across the country.
Stuart Chen-Hayes, one of the founders of CSJ, currently Associate Professor & Program Coordinator, Counselor Education/School Counseling at Lehman College of the City University of New York said, “I nominated Dr. Ryan for the Counselors for Social Justice Mary Smith Arnold Anti-Oppression award because I can think of no other researcher/clinician who does such powerful work at the intersection of multiple oppressions: heterosexism, sexism, racism, religious differences, and across so many diverse populations.”
Chen-Hayes added, “From her early work to inform quality health care and counseling for LGBT youth to her decade-long work with the Family Acceptance Project, Dr. Ryan exemplifies the spirit of Dr. Mary Smith Arnold. As a former student of Dr. Arnold’s myself, her message has informed my work and the work of so many others: we all need to be allies to challenge multiple oppressions. Dr. Ryan’s work is a shining example of the power of rigorous research and evidence-based interventions to challenge oppression in its many forms and complexities.”