“Hi, my name is Bob. I’m very interested in the men’s group that you run on Tuesday nights. I’m gay and am wondering if there are any other gay or bisexual men in the group and whether you think this would be a good group for me.” This question was posed to Tom, a clinical mental health counseling student enrolled in a community mental health outpatient setting, which is fulfilling his internship requirements. Tom immediately felt anxious and confused by this question, which was asked over the telephone. While he knew that there were no men in the group who identified themselves as gay or bisexual, he wondered whether it was appropriate for him to reveal this to Bob. The description of the group in the clinic has explicated only that it is a therapy group for men; until now, sexual orientation has not been a criterion for selection. While Tom was interested in increasing the size of the group, he was concerned that a gay man would feel out of place and further marginalized. He also worried that the others would become too uncomfortable, given their history of making homophobic jokes, especially when a deeper intimacy was developing among them. Finally, although this novice therapist had worked with a few gay clients during his practicum experiences, he thought that having a gay man in this group might be beyond the scope of his competence.

  • What would you do if you were Tom? List the steps you would take to handle this situation.
  • Do you believe there is more than one correct way to address this situation?
  • Does this scenario have any ethical components to it?



You are conducting a self-exploration group with children in a family clinic. The father of one of the children in your group meets with you to find out how his child is doing. What do you tell him? What do you not tell him? Would you be inclined to meet with the father and his child? How might you handle this same situation with a request made by a noncustodial parent where the parents are divorced?


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