Male Counselors' Discomfort With Gay and HIV-Infected Clients

Jeffrey A. Hayes, Charles J. Gelso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


This study examined male counselors' reactions to gay and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected clients in light of counselors' homophobia and death anxiety. After completing measures of homophobia and death anxiety, 34 male counselors viewed a videotaped, male client-actor in 1 of 4 conditions: either gay or heterosexual and either HIV negative or HIV positive. The dependent variable, counselor discomfort, was assessed through (a) the ratio of avoidance to approach verbal responses to the taped client, (b) self-reported state anxiety, and (c) recall of certain words used by the client. As hypothesized, counselors experienced greater discomfort with HIV-infected than HIV-negative clients, and counselors' homophobia predicted their discomfort with gay male clients. However, client sexual orientation did not affect counselor discomfort, and death anxiety was unrelated to discomfort with HIV-infected clients. Implications regarding countertransference and counseling were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-93
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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