Date of Graduation

Fall 12-16-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD)


School of Nursing and Health Professions




Clinical Psychology (PsyD)

First Advisor

Dr. Michelle Montagno

Second Advisor

Dr. Daniella Dominguez

Third Advisor

Dr. Brent Ferm


While religion may be meeting existential needs, it may, at the same time, be asking the LGBQ youth to be someone different than who they are (Longo et al., 2018). LGBQ individuals experience severe cognitive and emotional consequences because of oppressive religious doctrine, including guilt, shame, self-loathing, and suicidal ideation (Schuck & Liddle, 2001). When LGBQ individuals are involved with religious belief systems that cast rejecting or disapproving messages about LGBQ individuals, these individuals often experience more internalized negative self-messages, as well as more significant challenges in developing and accepting one’s sexual identity (Page et al., 2013). Therefore, this very faith that often helps these individuals find meaning, spiritual strength, and solace often, at some point, triggers a conflict when they begin to experience same-sex attraction and realize they might be LGBQ (Pietkiewicz & Kolodziejczk-Skrzypek, 2016). This inner battle between their religious beliefs and sexual orientation induces religious guilt and social pressure and forces these individuals to adapt to the heteronormative culture (Page et al., 2013). This tension from religious beliefs and a lack of strength and support from those beliefs are essential contributors to LGBQ identity challenges, above and beyond the impact of other types of stressors that LGBQ youth face (Page et al., 2013).

Most existing studies focus on the result or final resolution of the tension between sexual identity and religious beliefs and focus on outcomes such as rejection of sexual identity, rejection of Catholic identity, integration of sexual and Catholic identities, and compartmentalization (Anderton et al., 2011; Mahaffy, 1996; Rodriguez & Ouellette, 2000). It is difficult for individuals to reconcile their sexual identity with their religious identity if they come from non-affirming faith traditions. In addition, mental health fields sometimes have discounted the importance of religious identity within the LGBQ population and underestimated the number of losses people might experience if asked to give up their religion (Kashubeck-West et al., 2017). Therefore, despite the incongruent messages received by LGBQ individuals within the Catholic religion and the tension many LGBQ Catholics are experiencing between these two possibly conflicting identities, many LGBQ Catholics refuse to sacrifice either of these identities (Rodriquez & Ouellette, 2000). Of those who decided to integrate these two possibly conflicting identities, research has consistently shown that people in the later stages of identity integration report lower levels of negative beliefs, more positive sexual orientation development, and feelings about LGBQ orientation (Lapinski & McKirnan, 2013).

This integration of these identities has come to be understood as a process rather than simply a two-dimensional or bipolar construct (Rodriquez & Ouellette, 2000). Therefore, assessing integration as a process can potentially address the complexity of the phenomena more adequately (Anderton et al., 2011). This research aims to understand and explore more fully: How one integrates both conflicting selves, what effect dissonance has on identity development, and how to best support others working towards harmoniously incorporating both identities. Overall, the integration of LGBQ and Catholic identities appears to be a multifaceted process that requires further research.