Last updated on March 2020

An Affirmative Coping Skills Intervention to Improve Mental and Sexual Health of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth

Brief description of study

AFFIRM is an 8-session manualized group coping skills intervention focused on reducing sexual risk behaviours and psychosocial distress among SGMY. AFFIRM is delivered by two facilitators (primarily social workers and peers) through a combination of education and rehearsal (i.e., simulation of real-life experiences) in a manner that affirms participants' sexual and gender minority identities and experiences. AFFIRM is being tested in a five-year trial using a stepped wedge waitlist crossover design, where all participants receive the intervention in clusters.

Detailed Study Description

Session 1 focus

Introduction to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exploring lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ)+ identities, and understanding minority stress.

Session 1 activities


Discussing the theory and purpose of CBT approaches

Exploring stress and minority stress

Understanding the causes of stress in our lives

Session 2 focus

Understanding the impact of anti-LGBTQ attitudes and behaviors on stress.

Session 2 activities

Check in and review

Examining homophobia, heterosexism, and transphobia at the individual, institutional, and cultural level

Identifying how these experiences impact thoughts, feelings, and behaviors

Fostering strategies for both coping with and combating anti-LGBTQ discrimination at all levels

Session 3 focus

Understanding how thoughts impact feelings.

Session 3 activities

Check in and review

Distinguishing between thoughts and feelings

Exploring how thoughts influence feelings and behaviors

Identifying counterproductive thinking patterns

Recognizing negative self-talk and feelings of hopelessness

Learning thought stopping

Session 4 focus

Using thoughts to change feelings.

Session 4 activities

Check in and review

Increasing positive thinking and feelings of hope

Changing negative thoughts to positive thoughts

Challenging negative thinking and internalized homophobia/negative feelings through the ABCD (activating event, belief, consequence, and debate) method

Session 5 focus

Exploring how activities impact feelings.

Session 5 activities

Check in and review

Examining the impact of various activities on feelings

Identifying supportive and identity-affirming activities

The impact of LGBTQ-affirming activities on feelings

Session 6 focus

Planning to overcome counterproductive thoughts and negative feelings.

Session 6 activities

Check in and review

Distinguishing between clear and unclear goals

Identifying short, mid-, and long-term goals

Creating a sexual health plan

Fostering hope for the future

Session 7 focus

Understanding the impact of minority stress and anti-LGBTQ attitudes or behaviors on social relationships.

Session 7 activities

Check in and review

Anti-LGBTQ discrimination can lead to feelings of discomfort around others

Responding to discrimination or harassment in social situations

Learning to be assertive

Session 8 focus

Putting it all together: developing safe, supportive, and identity-affirming social networks.

Session 8 activities

Check in and review

Maintaining a healthy social network: attending to thoughts, expectations, feelings, and behaviors within relationships

Identifying a plan for building a supportive network

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT04318769

Find a site near you

Start Over