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College of Education

Thomas Toomey named 2020-2021 SPARC Graduate Research Grant Recipient

Thomas (Mitchell) Toomey is a 2021 Recipient of the Support to Promote Advancement of Research and Creativity, or SPARC, Graduate Research Grant. Sponsored by the Office of the Vice President of Research and Creativity, SPARC grants are a merit-based award designed to ignite research and creative excellence across all disciplines at USC.


His research project, Examining the Effects of an Adapted Therapy for LGBTQ+ Clients on Their Psychological Well-Being, will allow him to begin a career-long research agenda to design and study the effectiveness of strengths-based counseling interventions for LGBTQ+ individuals.


Toomey shares, “ I am just beginning my career as a counselor educator and researcher, and I have already noticed the gaps that exist for LGBTQ+ individuals who want to seek counseling services. The effectiveness of many traditional counseling interventions have not been studied with these populations, and thus, counselors may unknowingly be doing harm to these clients by applying ‘one-size-fits-all’ models of therapy to their unique mental health concerns. Much of what does exist for counseling LGBTQ+ individuals focuses solely on pathology—that is, the many mental health problems that these individuals may experience. I hope to uncover new, strengths-based therapies that counselors can use when working with LGBTQ+ individuals. By tapping into the innate strengths, counselors can help LGBTQ+ clients develop resilience to discrimination and prejudice and prevent future mental health distress that might result.”


Toomey is a second-year doctoral candidate in the College of Education’s counselor education and supervision program. He received his master’s degree in clinical rehabilitation counseling from Georgia State University in 2019. He is a nationally certified counselor and a clinical rehabilitation counselor. Mitchell’s research interests involve wellness in marginalized populations, culturally humble counseling interventions for LGBTQ+ individuals, and effective counselor training on the mental health of LGBTQ+ individuals.

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