Sexual Orientation and Sexual, Affectional, Intersex, and Gender Expansive Communities Concentration

Students pursuing the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling or Master of Arts in Psychology may choose to also do a Sexual Orientation Concentration as a part of their studies. The Sexual Orientation Concentration was developed in 2000 in response to society’s need for counselors and mental health professionals to have a specialized knowledge of the issues of sexual orientation. Completion of the Sexual Orientation Concentration is indicated on a graduates’ transcripts.

The Sexual Orientation and Sexual Affectional, Intersex, and Gender Expansive Communities Concentration infuses the entire program’s curriculum and community through support for all students in your learning and cultural competency. Incoming students are asked to identify their interest in the Sexual Orientation Concentration to the Admissions Office as a part of their application process. Enrolled students are welcome to join the SO Concentration by contacting the Coordinator and may switch advising groups.

Work for the concentration is done along with overall degree requirements and does not necessarily affect the amount of time needed to complete the program.


The purpose of the Sexual Orientation and Sexual Affectional, Intersex, and Gender Expansive Communities Concentration is to better prepare you to research and analyze issues pertaining to sexual orientation, and to work on them in clinical settings. The concentration addresses the expanding need for specialized education in the principles and concepts related to all sexual orientations and identities and offers training in the counseling skills related to such issues.

The Sexual Orientation Concentration is influenced by and adheres to professional resolutions, competencies, and guidelines of the ACA and APA. These include:

  • Competencies for Counseling Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Clients, by the Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling, a division of the American Counseling Association;
  • Guidelines for Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients, by the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues, a division of the American Psychological Association.

The Faculty

The Psychology and Counseling Faculty members work one-on-one with students as faculty advisors throughout the semester, as well as facilitating group studies, teaching workshops at residency, and acting as second readers to students’ final projects. Our faculty is comprised of national and international scholar practitioners with extensive experience supporting students taking charge of their learning. Faculty members’ work with students is focused, clear, and rigorous.

Learn more about our faculty.


Twice a year, at the start of each semester, students attend an intensive eight-day residency at the College’s Plainfield, Vermont campus. Residencies are a rich time of exploration, connection, and planning.

Low-Residency Model

At the start of the semester, students attend an intensive eight-day residency in Vermont, followed by 16 weeks of independent work and self-reflection in close collaboration with a faculty advisor and course mentor. Goddard pioneered this format nearly a half century ago to meet the needs of adult students with professional, family, and other obligations seeking learning experiences grounded in the real-world.

Residencies are a time to explore, network, learn, witness, and share with peers, staff, and faculty. Students work with advisors and peers in close-knit advising groups to forge individualized study plans that describe their learning objectives for the semester.

Working closely with their faculty advisors, and supported by fellow learners, students identify areas of study, personal goals, relevant resources, and avenues to achieve these goals. Students also attend and are invited to help organize workshops, keynote addresses, celebrations and other events intended to stimulate, inspire, and challenge.

This low-residency model combines the breadth of a collaborative community with the focus of personalized learning, enhanced by insightful exchanges with a faculty advisor and course mentors.

Invitation to Innovation

Although the current movement to understand sexual orientation has been influenced by gay and lesbian studies, gender studies, and feminism, the Goddard concentration has been designed to encompass the broadest scope of sexuality. Sexual orientation is viewed through the lenses of race, class, culture, ability, age, and gender. Heterosexuality and bisexuality, as well as the perspectives of people who identify as trans*, intersexed, celibate or asexual, androgynous, and queer are integral parts of the concentration’s respectful inclusiveness. Attention to the issues relevant to the sexual orientation of all people, including the influences of oppressive traditions, leads you to study and work on the cutting edges of these emerging intellectual fields.

The Sexual Orientation Concentration also serves as a method for indicating that the MA in Psychology & Counseling Program is a safe learning environment for students of all orientations and identities who are interested in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender, sexual orientation, and sexuality studies. You are always welcome to participate in any aspect of the concentration even if you ultimately decide not to fulfill the requirements.


  • Four core courses
  • Five elective courses
  • Final Product, Thesis, or Capstone with a substantial component on Sexual Orientation issues
  • Internship that involves client work related to the Concentration purpose (600 hours).

Core Courses

These courses promote a wide range of explorations designed to provide a fundamental understanding of sexual orientation from various perspectives of the human experience. These become the foundation from which you build your own individualized studies within the concentration, tailored to explore the questions, issues, and populations of primary interest to you. Core courses include:

Constructs of Sexual Orientation: Encompasses the historic, philosophic, psychological, and political foundations and ramifications of concepts such as gender, sex, and love. Courses that include a focus on The History of Sexual Orientations; Development and Expression of Sexualities and Orientation; and The Philosophies of Sexual Orientations are examples of what would fulfill this requirement.

Etiologies of Sexual Orientations:  Encompasses the biological, developmental, and social influences on sexual orientations across the lifespan. Courses that include a focus on Development of Sexual Orientation; Youth and Sexual Identities; and Psychological Understandings of Sexual Expression are examples of what would fulfill this requirement.

Cultural Contexts of Sexual Orientations:  Encompasses the impact of cultural opportunities and pressures on the development and expression of sexual orientations. Courses that include a focus on Culture and Sexual Orientation; Same Sex Relationships and Ethnicity; and Religion and Sexual Orientation are examples of what would fulfill this requirement.

Applied Issues in Sexual Orientation Counseling:  Encompasses the sexual orientation issues relevant to counseling, practice, research, and consulting. Courses that include a focus on Polyamory and Relationship Counseling; Counseling Treatments of Sexual Trauma; and Career Issues for Transgender Persons are examples of what would fulfill this requirement.

Related Area Courses:  Five additional courses that include a primary focus on topics related to the goals and purpose of the Concentration are also required. You may design your own related courses specific to the focus of your study within the concentration. This requirement may be fulfilled through the focus given to standard core course, or an elective course.

Concentration Supervised Internship:  You will meet the same overall internship requirements for the MA in Psychology & Counseling Program. In addition, the internship work is required to have a substantial component that is relevant to the purpose and goals of the Sexual Orientation Concentration. You will work in internships where the population and content of the work are appropriate to the Concentration. You can work with the Concentration Coordinator as well as the Internship Coordinator to explore possible internships and to integrate Sexual Orientation Concentration learning goals.

Concentration Final Product: You will complete either a Thesis or Capstone project that meets the same requirements for the MA in Psychology & Counseling Program. In addition, the thesis or capstone work will have a substantial component that is relevant to the purposes and goals of the Sexual Orientation Concentration and are expected to be a culmination of your focus through your previous work.

Important Announcement

The Board of Directors for Goddard College have made the difficult decision to close the college at the end of the 2024 Spring term.  


Current Goddard students will have the opportunity to complete their degrees at the same tuition rate through a teach-out with like-minded institution, Prescott College. Updates and scholarship funds will be available in the coming weeks and months. Information will be posted to

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