TPC Journal-Vol 11-Issue-3 - FULL ISSUE

The Professional Counselor | Volume 11, Issue 3 371 awareness (Hammer et al., 2016), relational growth (Kress et al., 2018), and investment in professional counseling relationships (Fullen et al., 2020). Given developmental concerns and life span transitions, older LGBTQ+ adults of color can remain disconnected from family, society, institutional resources, and professional counselors (Jones et al., 2018; Mereish & Poteat, 2015; Seelman et al., 2017). Using an RCT approach accounts for these factors and increases the awareness of disconnections between people and others in their environment (Hammer et al., 2016; Singh & Moss, 2016). Because of its emphasis on relationships, RCT’s focus on mutually fostering growth and dismantling oppression provides a platform for professional counselors to integrate the themes of equity, social justice, and feminism into counseling practice with older LGBTQ+ adults of color (Rausch & Wikoff, 2017; Singh et al., 2020). RCT demonstrates that intersections of social identities mirror several overlapping forms of oppression and hierarchies of power (Addison & Coolhart, 2015; Chan & Erby, 2018; Hammer et al., 2016). Within this conceptual framework, we intentionally use LGBTQ+ communities to inclusively highlight communities featured across the spectrum of sexuality, affectional identity, and gender identity (Griffith et al., 2017). As counselors address the intersections among social identities, applying philosophical underpinnings of RCT equips them to tackle cultural, social, and contextual barriers that disconnect older LGBTQ+ people of color from society, resources, and health care access. Consequently, this article entails a three-pronged approach: (a) an overview of extant conceptual and empirical research relevant for older LGBTQ+ adults of color; (b) in-depth illustration of key principles within the RCT approach; and (c) RCT applications for counseling practice and research to support older LGBTQ+ adults of color. Intersections of Older Adults, LGBTQ+ Communities, and Communities of Color Scholars across disciplines (e.g., psychology, social work, counseling, sociology, education) continue to explore intersections of racial and ethnic identities in confluence with sexuality, affection, and gender identity (Chan & Erby, 2018; Jackson et al., 2020; Van Sluytman & Torres, 2014). Researchers can ostensibly benefit from a gerontological focus to critically examine social conditions and structures sustained by ageism (Chaney & Whitman, 2020; Kim et al., 2017). The lack of attention to gerontology, ageism, or older adults within LGBTQ+, racial, and ethnic identity research has further underscored the impact of health disparities and social determinants of health (e.g., education, economic resources, career, income) that precipitate an underutilization of mental health services and health care, specifically among LGBTQ+ people of color (Choi & Meyer, 2016; Du & Xu, 2016; Fredriksen-Goldsen, 2014; Rowan & Giunta, 2016; Seelman et al., 2017). Kim and colleagues (2017) specifically observed that race and ethnicity have been historically excluded as variables and outcomes in LGBTQ+ older adult research. Building further on this gap, Woody’s (2014) study of African American LGBT elders exemplified the need to address these intersections of identities. In the study, Woody noted that African American LGBT elders consistently faced conflicts in negotiating ethnic and spiritual values together with sexual and gender identities. Outside of oppressive circumstances, older adults already face realities associated with the aging process, health concerns, maintaining an economic standard of living, retirement, and housing barriers related to developmental life tasks and the stages of older adulthood (Brennan-Ing et al., 2014; Choi & Meyer, 2016; Porter et al., 2016). Several of these concerns coincide with a consistent gap in culturally responsive counseling practices focused on older adults (Chan & Silverio, in press; Fullen, 2018) and the call to action by Fullen and colleagues (2019) to broaden research evidence in gerontological counseling. Health Disparities As gerontological and health researchers attempt to shed light on the experiences of older LGBTQ+ adults of color, overall trends continue to reveal cultural, social, psychological, and physical implications