UCLA EMPWR Program
Promoting Well-being & Resilience for LGBTQ Youth
The EMPWR (“empower”) Program is a joint initiative of the UCLA Division of Child Psychiatry and the UCLA Division of Population Behavioral Health designed to promote well-being and resilience in LGBTQ children, teenagers, and young adults.
EMPWR provides a safe, welcoming environment for LGBTQ youth with mental health concerns related to stressful and/or traumatic experiences. This program links families to an expert team of attending psychiatrists and psychologists as well as supervised advanced trainees. The EMPWR program delivers comprehensive mental health programming, including individual and family therapies, groups, evaluation and medication management. EMPWR builds on personal strengths to foster healthy identity formation and recovery from stress and/or trauma.
Individual therapy: The program offers evidence-based individual psychotherapies to address symptoms related to trauma and stress. Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are used to treat trauma and anxiety/depression, respectively. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) skills training is also available for improving emotion regulation. Individual therapy can help with sexual orientation and/or gender identity development, recovery from trauma, bullying, and/or discrimination, and exploration of social and/or medical transitions.
LGBTQ Teen Resilience Group: Resilience describes a person’s ability to overcome stressors and handle tough situations. The Resilience Group is designed for teens 12 to 17 who identify as LGBTQ. Informed by cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the Resilience Group teaches skills to improve day-to-day functioning. Sessions are led by professional mental health providers and are designed to be educational, interactive, and social. Skills are practiced between sessions to improve learning. The Resilience Group is comprised of eight 60-minute classes and is held on Wednesday evenings.
Family interventions: Families Overcoming Under Stress (FOCUS) is a brief, 8-session, evidence-based intervention. FOCUS helps families reduce stress and improve resilience. FOCUS is customized for LGBTQ teens who are experiencing mental health symptoms. It also provides support for parents/caregivers to improve parent-child communication and increase understanding of minority stress. Family participation can help increase awareness about the negative impact of stigma, discrimination, and family rejection on LGBTQ youth.
Medication evaluation & management: Integrated psychiatric evaluation and medication management services are available with EMPWR programming. Evaluations are typically conducted by advanced trainees under the supervision of board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists.
For intakes, group registration, and/or more information, call 310-825-7573 or email EMPWR@mednet.ucla.edu
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