Working With Parents of LGBTQ+ Minors from Religiously Conservative Communities

**this course builds on materials introduced in “Sex Therapy with Religiously Conservative Clients"

Instructor: Natasha Helfer, LMFT, CST-S

This clinically oriented presentation will explore some of the challenges therapists will face and competences they should have when treating LGBTQ+ minors for sex therapy who have parents who come from religiously conservative backgrounds. These clients will most likely need help from a provider who can advocate for their sexual health while at the same time not isolating or ostracizing the parents who are bringing the child in to therapy to begin with. The goals of the parents may not initially be aligned with the best interests of the mental and sexual health of the minor. It is paramount to find ways to join with the parents in this type of treatment. This presentation will explore Attachment Based Family Therapy (ABFT) as a theoretical basis to do this type of joining work. Understanding how to honor a client’s system within their cultural and religious spaces, while also offering best standards of care and watching personal bias is an important skill to acquire within the field of sex therapy. This is especially the case in the United States, since there is a strong founding history of Christian religious traditions as well as ingrained values surrounding religious freedoms which inform your client’s ecosystemic presentations.

Understanding Act-Centered vs. Relationship-Centered approaches within religious framings will be an initial construct that is helpful in aligning therapeutic goals with sex-positive concepts. This presentation will also cover the 5 tasks of ABFT to help therapists be equipped to help alliance building with the parents of LGBTQ+ minors with the ultimate goal being the minor being able to turn to their parents for adequate help and support. This presentation also covers many of the myths RCC parents face in regards to best standards of care for transgender youth and ways you can be effective in helping them have accurate data. This work is significantly important in reducing risk of suicide and other mental health symptoms.

# of CEs: 2 hours

Level of Instruction: Intermediate, Post-Graduate


  1. Be aware of Attachment Based Family Therapy (ABFT) as an effective way to work with LGBTQ+ minors who have Religiously Conservative Parents.
  2. Learn about the 5 tasks of ABFT to help you become aligned with the RCC parents, to the point that ideally the youth is comfortable coming to them for adequate and affirming help, support and resources.
  3. Be able to identify some of the fears and beliefs that RCC parents may be entering your office with and strategies to work with them effectively through the joining process.
  4. Be able to identify some of the teachings an LGBTQ+ minor may be learning in an RCC about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity which increase likelihood of PTSD symptoms.
  5. Be able to identify specific myths and misinformation parents from RCCs may be functioning from in regards to best standards of care for transgender youth.
  6. Be able to identity several treatment approaches and strategies that can help support this minor population.

Why Should You Take This Course?

  • Identify the core concerns many parents of LGBTQ+ youth face

  • Learn how to apply attachment-based family therapy to this population

  • Address trauma response that LGBTQ+ youth may incur

  • Work with religiously conservative parents to understand transgender standards of care
  • Overcome your own biases so that you can be effective with this population
  • AASECT, APA, NBCC & CA BRN credit
Learn What's Important
Walking the tightrope between religiously conservative parents and LGBTQ+ children and teens can be precarious unless you have a balanced approach to treating all family members. Therapists who work within this population need to be able to share factual information with empathy and compassion, and guide the family through a course of treatment that includes education and a focus on attachment rather than on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Learn by Example
In addition to getting an overview of the issues faced by this population, you will learn evidence-based tools for helping clients cope with tensions between their faith and their sexuality. Natasha Helfer, LMFT, CSTS generously shares her knowledge and clinical experience to help you become competent in this area.

Natasha Helfer, LMFT, CSTS

Natasha Helfer LMFT, CST-S, received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Brigham Young University and her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Friends University.

She also received her certifications as a sex therapist and sex therapist supervisor from the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).

Helfer is a speaker, writer, and podcaster with 23 years of clinical experience primarily working with a Mormon clientele around issues of relational health, faith transitions and journeys, and sexuality. She writes a blog called "The Mormon Therapist," and hosts the podcasts "Mormon Mental Health," and "Mormon Sex Info."

Helfer has authored two books: “One Family, Two Views” (mixed-faith marriage) and “Check your Baggage” (challenging sex negative messages). Helfer has presented all over the country both in professional and public settings, has been invited as a guest speaker at several national events as well as been interviewed on a variety of podcasts, TV news programs and newspapers.

Helfer was recently excommunicated from the Mormon church for issues surrounding her advocacy for sexual health.