Jennifer Geiman


Rings, Jeffrey

Committee Member

Tian, Lu

Committee Member

Weingartner, Angela

Committee Member

Lahman, Maria K. E.


College of Education and Behavioral Sciences; Department of Applied Psychology and Counselor Education, Counseling Psychology


University of Northern Colorado

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Place of Publication

Greeley, (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



260 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


The purposes of this study were to explore the lived experiences of queer atheists, to examine how they were impacted by various oppressive systems, and how to assess their needs might be better met by counseling psychologists and other mental health clinicians. The two research questions of focus were: Q1 What are the lived experiences of individuals who hold intersecting queer and atheist identities? Q2 How might individuals who hold intersecting queer and atheist identities be better served by counseling psychologists? While extant literature on the experiences of queer people and how to support them clinically has grown in the last few decades, the literature base on atheist populations remains staggeringly low. Further, only a couple studies on intersecting queer and atheist identities had been published prior to the development of this research. This study added to this small body of research and offered insights for mental health professionals and researchers regarding how queer atheists experienced stigma and discrimination, how they were impacted by social support, and what kinds of support clinicians could provide to their queer and atheist clients. Eleven participants completed 45-90 minute interviews that were then analyzed phenomenologically using a critical inquiry framework. Emergent themes of these data included difficulty accessing social support, frequent and varied experiences of stigma and discrimination, regular assumptions of participants’ immorality, mental health concerns associated with experiences of oppression, and consistent calls for culturally-informed therapy with clinicians who they could trust to be allies. Significant implications of this study included the emergence of morality-based stigma as a subtype of stigma, the need for a framework to consider socio-political contextualization for individuals, and a call for additional intersectional identity research within the field of counseling psychology.

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Copyright is held by the author.