Archive for May, 2010


My vacation was quite relaxing. I spent a week in North Carolina visiting my wife and Carl & Courtney. While most of the week was low key and included hanging out, watching movies, and playing Wii with my brothers-in-law, I also got to see Maggie perform and went adventuring. Really, though, it is the adventuring I wanna write about.

On Thursday the four of us went on a zipline tour using a groupon. It was a lot of fun zooming across a shallow valley and down a hill on a zipline, lemmie tell you. I was sad that they wanted to charge $30 for the 2,000 foot zipline from the top of the hill to the bottom. I’d have paid $20, but $30 was a bit steep (no pun intended) in my opinion.

Following the zipline, the girls hung out in Boone, NC, pampered themselves and met a bunch of people at a local bar. They had a lot of fun so I hear. Carl and I, on the other hand, went for a hike. A 7 mile round trip hike up Grandfather Mountain that was advertised to take about 3.5 hours buy took us about 5.5 hours. It was a very strenuous hike up about a mile or 1.5 miles up the mountain that included inclines mostly between 30 and 45 degrees, though at one point we were climbing almost straight up for about 0.5 a mile. The view at the top was worth it. Prolly one of the best scenic views I’ve seen in my life. Too bad my phone/camera was dead at the time. I’m hoping Carl will post the camera pics on Facebook.

Anyway, after I dropped our remaining water bottle down the hill from the summit (leaving us without water for the trip down) we began our race down the mountain against the sunset. I was surprised at how quickly we did it, though the last mile was pretty much in the dark. Our knees and ankles were aching pretty badly (and still are today) but we were highly motivated to get back having not only encountered bear poo on the trail, but hearing it growl at us from somewhere off the trail… The girls asked us what took so long and told us they thought we “got et by a bear.” Ha ha ha. Funny story about that….

I did a little math the next day and figured out that the hiking trip burned about 4,000 calories. According to P90, I burned just over a pound of fat on that hike. Yikes.

So, overall a great vacation. I feel quite a bit refreshed. Now back to my usual week with a busy schedule ahead of me.

EDIT: Added a few pics:

Before the Zipline


Little Waterfall

I like this pic

The 7 mile hike, grueling as it was, was totally worth it


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I’ve gotten back my edits for Chapter 1 of my dissertation and I have a lot left to do. Also, I have IRB approval now so I can start collecting data at some point. There is still plenty of writing to be had. I applied for a dissertation-based scholarship thanks to the topic of my dissertation focusing on the LGBT population. If I win I’ll get $1,500, which I will use to buy my testing materials and provide some compensation for subjects and a pizza party for those willing to help me administer the assessments (now taking offers!). I was required to distill my dissertation down into <3 pages, which was no easy feat. I figure it is the simplest way to let everyone know what I’m up to though since I haven’t really gone into the details here on my blog.  Below is said 3 page abbreviated dissertation proposal for your reading “pleasure.”

Positive and Negative Coming Out Experiences as Reflected in the Rorschach Comprehensive System

In order to accurately and ethically assess, diagnose, and treat clients from diverse and traditionally marginalized populations, clinicians must take into consideration the experiences of these populations and adapt current practices to account for these experiences. African Americans, for example, have endured racism, discrimination, and unequal treatment since before the Civil War, while lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people (LGBT) struggle with identity development and an often-stressful coming out process.

Emic based (i.e., culture specific) diagnostic tools and treatments more likely to be sensitive to these experiences are the exception rather than the rule. By contrast, the most commonly used assessment measures and treatment methods utilize an imposed etic format in an effort to be culturally neutral and universal. These measures are often administered to minorities and LGBT clients; for whom typical norms may not apply since they do not take into account factors that may be unique to the population and may even lead to a misinterpretation of these as pathology or negative symptomatology. Indeed, a recent dissertation by Howell (2008) identified a need for special considerations when scoring and interpreting Comprehensive System (CS; Exner, 2003) results on the Rorschachs of gay men. Howell found that gay men who endorsed negative coming out experiences tended to have more pathological responses across several CS variables (e.g., H content, A content, GHR:PHR). These results emphasize the dangers of not taking into account emic based variables and experiences when using etic based measures.

The coming out process is a unique and important aspect of LGBT identity development and thus it is important for clinicians to consider this experience when working with this population. It is insufficient, however, for clinicians to merely identify whether or not a person has come out. The process is different for each individual and there are numerous factors that influence everything from how the individual perceives himself, whether the experience is positive or negative, and when and to whom the individual discloses his identity.

In his Ecological Model of Human Development, Urie Bronfenbrenner emphasizes the importance of considering the environment in understanding human development. He elaborates on interactions between the person and various systems (e.g., work, spouse, church) as well as the interactions between the systems themselves (e.g., spouse’s job, culture). The model seeks to account for interpersonal interactions, social resources, and societal pressures, in addition to other factors that influence human development. Furthermore, the individual is identified as a growing organism constantly adapting and changing based on systemic interactions.

Several factors were identified in research as having a positive or negative influence on the coming out experience. Individual or person factors include: coping style, internalized homophobia, personality style, attachment style, and the presence of mental health problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress). Environmental or systemic factors include: race, culture, socioeconomic status, religious affiliation, and legal rights. Finally, several interactions between the individual and the environment have been found to have an effect as well. Examples include: social support, familial support, heterosexism, involvement in a gay community, and the presence of role models.

The purpose of this study is to conceptualize the coming out process within Bronfenbrenner’s model and account for the effects of various factors on the coming out experience. The study will identify a combination of individual and environmental variables that reliably differentiate those with positive coming out experiences from those with negative coming out experiences. The study hypothesizes that gay men with negative coming out experiences will have different cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal coping styles as well as different environmental experiences (e.g., reactions from others to disclosure and current lifestyle). Negative coming out should be reflected in gay male Rorschach CS scores as well as in their responses to a Coming Out Questionnaire (COQ). An additional measure of mental health, the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI; Derogatis, 1993) will also be used to ensure that the negative coming out experience is not simply a reflection of existing mental health difficulties. The CS includes variables that have been related to situational stress, chronic stress, interpersonal adjustment, cognitive and emotional coping, empathy, and flexibility. As a result, there should be some reflection of positive and negative coming out experiences within these variables.

Each participant will sign an informed consent and complete a Rorschach, BSI, and COQ (in that order). Using the results of the BSI and COQ, participants will be identified within one of four categories based on their level of mental health symptoms (as measured by the BSI) and positive versus negative coming out experience (as measured by the COQ). Rorschach variables (e.g., D, AdjD, Y, M, GHR:PHR, Egocentricty Index) will be analyzed based on each category with associated hypotheses. A factor analysis will also be included to analyze the results and identify correlations between factors identified in the COQ and Rorschach variables. The categories include:

Positive Coming Out Experience Negative Coming Out Experience
Low BSI Best results, fewer mental health symptoms, positive individual and/or environmental factors Second best results, mental health moderates and helps person to adjust to coming out, potentially higher situational stressors
High BSI Coming out moderates mental health symptoms, more positive environmental factors, preexisting mental health symptoms may affect Rorschach results Worst situation, preexisting mental health combined with negative coming out impact person and Rorschach results together, negative individual and environmental factors

The significance of this study includes a better understanding of how preexisting mental health symptoms and coping styles affect the coming out experience, how environmental factors moderate the negative aspects of coming out, and how interactions between individual and environmental factors can help account for the tendency towards a positive or negative experience. Additionally, this study will produce data specific to the Comprehensive System that captures the coming out experience and its effects on the individual that may prove beneficial to future assessment (e.g., a cluster of variables that captures a negative coming out experience for use when assessing gay males). This study will help provide evidence for the importance of accounting for the coming out experience when assessing and treating gay men. Finally, the COQ is a self-report measure that identifies several factors associated with an individual’s coming out experience and rates how influential these experiences are in their unique experience. The utilization of such a measure can help a professional quickly assess the individual’s coming out experience and account for the presence or lack of supports and moderating factors.


Derogatis, L. R. (1993). Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI): Administration, scoring, and procedures manual. Minneapolis, MN: National Computer Systems.

Exner, J. (2003). Rorschach: A comprehensive system (Vol. 1, 4th ed.). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Howell, G. (2008). Assessing the need for adjustments in scoring and interpretation of the Rorschach inkblot test with gay men. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B. Sciences and Engineering, 69(4-B), 2629.

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