The University of New Mexico’s Counselor Education Programs have been nationally recognized for their demonstrated commitment to the promotion of LGBTGEQIAP+ awareness and affirmation. The programs were formally be recognized by the Society for Sexual, Affectional, Intersex, and Gender Expansive Identities (SAIGE), a division of the American Counseling Association.

The SAIGE Counseling Program Award is presented biennially to a counseling program that has demonstrated a commitment to the promotion of LGBTGEQIAP+ awareness and affirmation. LGBTGEQIAP+ refers to lesbian; gay; bisexual; trans*, transgender and Two-Spirit (2S; Native Identity); gender-expansive; queer and questioning; intersex; agender, asexual and aromantic; pansexual, pan/polygender, and poly relationship systems; and other related identities.

Cory Viehl, SAIGE former president, commended the counselor education and supervision programs at UNM for “exemplifying the spirit of this award.” As such, the spirit of working for LGBTGEQIAP+ mental health is transcended by the passion of the students and faculty committed to the advocacy and rights of all human beings. This is most exemplified in the Program’s investment into LGBTGEQIAP+ communities through recruitment, coursework, clinical experiences for counselors in training and research.

UNM's program actively recruits and attracts master’s and doctoral students with research and clinical interests within LGBTGEQIAP+ mental health and human rights. In mobilizing these interests a step further, the program offers a course in Human Sexuality in Counseling & Psychotherapy, which focuses on all elements of human sexuality from the body to the social construction of sexual/affectional and gender identifications as well as critical implications for counselors to consider in their work. Furthermore, the program supports students’ (doctoral and master’s level) clinical experiences particularly in collaboration with local centers at UNM and in the Albuquerque community, such as the Women’s Resource Center, the LGBTQ Resource Center, and the Transgender Resource Center.

Finally, faculty and doctoral candidates in the program engage in research and advocacy work across LGBTGEQIAP+ communities. Of particular importance is the mentorship of the Associate Dean of Research and Distance Education in the College of Education, Kristopher M. Goodrich, who exemplifies the importance of research and professional service in counseling. Goodrich served as former president of SAIGE (2015-2016) and the Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Issues in Counseling (2015-2017), while also serving on the editorial board for the Journal for LGBT Issues in Counseling (2014-present). Goodrich’s work in addition to the collaborative work of colleagues and alumni envelops excitement and community across university settings nationally and UNM departments among those invested in LGBTGEQIAP+ mental health, advocacy, and human rights.

“The Program is a true expression of love and pride driven by research supported best practices,” said Hansel Burley, UNM College of Education and Human Sciences dean. “In these times beset with hate, the paths to wellness and courage that Goodrich and his colleagues’ efforts inspire deserve this important recognition.”