Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Daniela Burnworth (Committee Member), James Dobbins (Committee Member), Heather Wilder (Committee Chair)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


This study investigated the family dynamics that occur following a child's disclosure of his/her same-sex sexual orientation. In particular, this study aimed to gain information regarding the possible presence of boundary ambiguity and subsequent ambiguous loss within families after their child/children comes out. Participants included individuals who identified as caregivers (i.e. parents, guardians) of a gay, lesbian, or bisexual child. Participants were given a survey in which many items were adapted from previous boundary ambiguity scales, in addition to qualitative items to fully capture the participants' experiences. Findings suggested that a majority of participants did not experience ambiguous loss or boundary ambiguity during the coming out process. While many endorsed feelings of loss, the family dynamics that followed the child's disclosure did not appear to have a drastic shift. Moreover, results indicated that there is a statistically significant shift in caregivers' perceptions regarding their child's same-sex sexual orientation over the course of time. This study provides information for clinicians conducting individual and/or family therapy wherein a child identifies as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

Page Count


Department or Program

School of Professional Psychology

Year Degree Awarded


Included in

Psychology Commons