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  • Carl E. Clark II

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Putting principles into practice: Devereux embraces Gender Affirmative Model

As Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health continues its efforts to become one of the most inclusive and diverse behavioral healthcare organizations in the U.S., the nonprofit is making great strides in implementing the American Psychological Association’s Gender Affirmative Model.

The Gender Affirmative Model is the emerging best practice treatment of choice for transgender and gender-expansive youth and adults, focusing on resilience, coping and wellness.

Therapeutic goals in this model include:

  • Facilitating an authentic gender self: Helping an individual understand who they are and express that in words.
  • Alleviating gender stress or distress: Assisting parents as they work through existing anxieties about their child’s gender and move toward acceptance.
  • Building gender resilience: Helping an individual develop the social and emotional skills needed to thrive in their environments.
  • Securing social supports: Providing community supports for an individual to freely and safely express themselves.

Since adopting this model in 2019, Devereux has developed a national policy that sets clear standards for the care and treatment of gender-diverse individuals. In addition, the organization recently rolled out a gender support plan to inform its clinicians on how best to support individuals in home, school or community-based settings.

“At Devereux, we want to ensure every child, adolescent and adult feels welcome when they walk through our doors, and finds a safe space that respects and honors them as individuals,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical/Medical Officer Yolanda Graham, M.D. “We believe everyone has the right to live life as their authentic selves and be supported as they maximize their strengths to reach their full and unique potential.”

Recognition from the Human Rights Campaign

As Devereux continues to embrace the Gender Affirmative Model, Graham says the organization’s greatest accomplishment, so far, has been achieving recognition from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the leading LGBTQ rights and advocacy organization in the nation.

In 2019, Devereux Arizona and Devereux Florida were awarded the HRC All Children – All Families “Innovator” Seal of Recognition (the highest level of recognition) for implementing “innovative approaches to LGBTQ inclusion.” In addition, Devereux Georgia was awarded the “You are Welcome Here” Seal of Recognition, and Devereux Pennsylvania’s Children’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services center was recognized for Building a Foundation for Inclusion.

The HRC’s All Children – All Families initiative provides a comprehensive framework for organizations to establish best practices that welcome, support and affirm LGBTQ foster and adoptive parents. Achieving recognition from the HRC requires an organization to examine every aspect of care – from admissions paperwork to supports and services. Read a previous article on this topic.

“Our goal is to have all of our centers certified by the HRC within the next year,” Graham explained. “Devereux’s LGBTQ committee is leading the charge by working closely with our centers to implement LGBTQ inclusive policies and affirming practices, and build meaningful relationships within the LGBTQ community.”

Next steps

In the coming months, Devereux plans to increase its recruitment efforts with LGBTQ foster parents, and update corporate policies and employee benefits to better support gender-inclusive standards of care.

In addition, during a March 2020 retreat, all Devereux clinical directors will be trained: 1) on the Gender Affirmative Model by internal subject matter experts; and 2) in LGBTQ best practices by the Mazzoni Center, a Philadelphia-based LGBTQ health and social service provider.

Learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health.

 

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