Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health Certificate

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The First of its Kind, Fully Online

Fairfield University offers a 9-credit certificate for mental health professionals to serve a diverse range of sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth and adults. If you hope to or are currently working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ), polyamorous, kinky, and other SGM clients, this certificate will give you the resources, skills, and self-awareness you need to feel confident in your work.

The program is available to current Fairfield graduate students as well as mental health professionals who hold at least a bachelor’s degree. The required courses can be taken as a concentration while working towards a master’s degree at Fairfield University or can be completed as a stand-alone certificate.

Program Highlights

  • Suited for graduate students and professionals in marriage and family therapy, social work, counseling, psychology, student affairs, education, nursing, and more
  • One year of flexible, online learning that can fit into a busy schedule
  • Highly engaging, interactive online courses taught by passionate and knowledgeable practitioners
  • A focus on intersectional, relational, life cycle, and self-reflective perspectives to foster a holistic view of both client and clinician
  • An opportunity to create and implement a project, program, or product that impacts LGBTQ mental health

Learning Objectives

Learning outcomes for this program are based in professional standards for clinical treatment of SGM clients (i.e., American Counseling Association, American Psychological Association), the School of Education and Human Development Conceptual Framework, and the Jesuit mission of Fairfield University. The certification in Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health prepares candidates who:


Take Responsibility

Recognize their own biases, privileges, and worldviews as it pertains to SGM youth and adults and take responsibility for how these impact assessment and treatment.



Distinguish how biological, familial, cultural, socioeconomic, and psychological factors influence the development, growth, life cycle, and relationship and family formation for SGM individuals.



Recognize how sexual and gender identity intersect with other social identities (e.g., race, ethnicity, nationality, class, ability, religion/spirituality) to create diverse experiences of development, privilege, and oppression.



Articulate an affirmative approach to mental health treatment that includes a strength-based, normative view of sexual and gender diversity as well as an understanding of how stigma impacts mental health and well-being.


Seek & Access

Seek and access resources for client care and continued professional development, including training, consultation, and research findings.



Create solutions that directly impact service delivery, community resources, or policy initiatives that improve SGM well-being.

Requirements & Curriculum

Applicants for the Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health certificate must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and demonstrate a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.67 across all degrees or be a current Fairfield graduate student in good academic standing.

Coursework for the program includes an emphasis on the minority stress model to understand the impact of stigma on mental health; an analysis of SGM health disparities; barriers and pathways to accessing treatment; theoretical and evidence-based approaches to treatment; and mental health prevention and promotion. All courses will adopt an intersectional, relational, and life cycle perspective by examining how biological, social, cultural, and political contexts intersect to influence the development, coupling, and family formation processes of SGM individuals.

Required Courses

Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health
Transgender and Gender Expansive Affirming Care
Conversations with Queer and Trans Youth
Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health Capstone

Visit our our academic catalog for detailed course descriptions and more information.

More About Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health

Message from the Director

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Message from the Director

Erica E. Hartwell, PhD, LMFT

Dear Prospective Student,

I am thrilled to present to you the Certificate in Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health! This certificate program is the first of its kind—entirely online, focused on the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ people and families, and open to graduate students and professionals across disciplines and across the world.

It is very likely that you are interested in this certificate because you are serving LGBTQ clients and communities, but did not receive very much training on these issues in your graduate program. This certificate was created to bridge that training gap so that we can all provide affirmative, ethical, and healing care to clients across the gender and sexuality spectrum.

The Certificate in Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health is offered primarily online so that you can fit it into your life, whether you are in a graduate program, caregiving, working, or a combination. The faculty are trained in the most up-to-date learning technology tools to provide you with an engaging, in-depth, and effective learning experience. 

The faculty are all licensed mental health professionals with years of experience teaching, supervising, and providing therapy to LGBTQ clients. They have been published and given national presentations on this topic. But, most importantly, they are passionate and committed to your development as a therapist.

Please explore this page, and if you have any questions, please send me an email.

Erica E. Hartwell, PhD, LMFT
Director, Certificate in Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health

Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

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Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

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As a Jesuit, Catholic university, Fairfield is dedicated to diversity and inclusion; to radical hospitality in service of racial, social, and economic justice.

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Our caring and committed Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health faculty offer a rigorous course of study, with a broad range of courses that integrate critical reflection and extensive field experience.

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