By Tiffany Reid, BS IMC ‘21
Board-certified clinical health psychologist Dr. Matthew Skinta published a new book about his clinical work with sexual and gender minority groups and the ways bias trickles in.
This past November, he published his newest book, Contextual Behavior Therapy for Sexual and Gender Minority Clients: A Practical Guide to Treatment (Routledge). The book, based loosely on both his private practice experience and his time directing a sexual and gender identities training clinic, combines theories, research and case studies that advocate a process-based approach to treating stress among sexual and gender minorities.
Skinta joined the College of Arts and Sciences as an Assistant Professor of Psychology in 2019.
“I came to Roosevelt University because of its social justice mission,” says Skinta. This exploration of his new home lines up with his mission as a psychologist. “Psychology isn’t just about what you are carrying inside,” says Skinta. “It is also about what everyone around you says, thinks, and whether you are safe with them.”
A self-described “army brat” who was born in Germany, Skinta explained that growing up in a military family was key to his career as a psychologist. In 1991, his family moved from the liberal Netherlands to Kansas at the start of “The Summer of Mercy.” That summer, anti-abortion activists linked to the organization Operation Rescue arrived in Kansas to target patients and doctors at medical clinics.
As Kansas Public Radio station KMUW described that summer, “everyday protestors arrived outside the Women’s Health Care Services run by Dr. George Tiller. They would lie on the sidewalks, blocking access to the clinic while screaming threats and prayers at clinic workers and women in attempts to get them to change their minds.”
The Summer of Mercy contributed to Skinta’s awareness of how societies isolate members. “Seeing the contrast in who is welcomed and who is not caused a ripple effect,” he said. “The people who are not welcomed carry that societal isolation with them.
Skinta also witnessed how people in the LGBTQ+ communities suffered rejection from their families and friends. How do you respond to someone disowned by their mother? What do you say to a friend who was shot at by their father? How do you reconnect those families? Are there treatments available? These were all questions that ran through Skinta’s mind as he started his academic journey.
After a decade of research and in private practice, Skinta is able to answer some of those questions. In his private practice, Dr. Skinta has worked with racially diverse patients, refugee seekers, and homeless clients. He says his greatest strength is his interest in working with people not like him.
“With my patients, there is some degree of overlap [in identity], but psychology fails so many people through not fully embracing intersexuality,” he said. “I always had a desire to meet others and learn how I can do work for them.”
When asked about what he wants readers to take away from his book, Skinta responded, “Always remember with any marginalized group, that society is the problem. It doesn’t exist inside the person. We can also ask more of each other. If you respect your work and the person in front of you, realize this is a big community that overlaps with other types of marginalized identities.”
Skinta also stressed the importance of competency in practitioners. “If you care and you don’t understand a person, then learn,” he said. “Educate yourself.”
This is why he is making it a priority to learn about the Chicagoland area and to get involved in community projects and discover the specific needs of Roosevelt students.