UCI LGBT Resource Center

Counseling Center Mentor & Mentee Program

Section 1

This is a program of the UCI Counseling Center.

Link to this program and to apply to be a mentor or mentee

The hallmark of the LGBTQ Mentoring Program is a trusting, confidential, one-on-one relationship between the mentee and an LGBTQ mentor. This relationship provides a venue for the mentee to explore many issues regarding sexual orientation or gender identity in a safe, non-judgemental, supportive, and enpowering environment. Mentors help LGBTQ students to live fuller, happier, and more productive lives.


The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer(LGBTQ) Mentoring Program empowers LGBTQ students to live more full, happy, and productive lives. The mentors aim to support mentees through many facets of LGBTQ identity development. This is accomplished through frank, informal, one-on-one conversations, wherein support and information are provided. Mentors serve as positive role models and provide resource information.

About the Program

LGBTQ identity development is a lifelong process. Unlike many other marginalized and/or oppressed populations, most LGBTQ individuals are not raised in families or community environments that reflect their sexual/gender identities. Thus, mentorship and friendships among “chosen families” of other LGBTQs is often critical to identity and community development.

LGBTQ identity development can begin at any point in one’s life. Regardless of at what age it begins, for most LGBTQ individuals, the “coming out process” evokes many emotions—some of which can be challenging, confusing, and even frightening. It is also a time in one’s life that often is accompanied by feelings of isolation and loneliness. The mentoring relationship provides a safe place for these feelings to be explored.

As LGBTQ individuals meet life’s transitions and milestones, they are often faced with exploring how to integrate their LGBTQ identity into various new phases in life. Mentors can aid with this exploration. They help mentees challenge internalized negative messages and misinformation proliferated about LGBTQ people by peers, family, social institutions, and the mass media. Internalized negative and inaccurate messages can take a psychological toll. Mentors help by replacing myths and stereotypes with accurate information. Through this program, LGBTQ students are encouraged to develop positive LGBTQ identities.

Link to this program and to apply to be a mentor or mentee

Programs Offered

One-on-One mentoring

This is the hallmark of the program. Mentors and mentees arrange times to meet and talk. Mentees can ask their mentor questions, discuss any topics of interest, or just check-in with their mentor.


Mentors provide support for mentees as they connect with the LGBTQ communities. For example, realizing how difficult it can be to walk into an LGBTQ meeting or discussion group for the first time, mentors can attend such meetings with their mentees until the mentee feels comfortable attending on her or his own.


Mentors and mentees may go on “fieldtrips” designed to help the mentee get acquainted with the LGBTQ community. Examples of the types of places mentors and mentees have explored include the following: LGBTQ centers; LGBTQ cultural events; meetings, clubs, or groups of interest; LGBTQ pride festivals and parades; LGBTQ film festivals; LGBTQ bookstores, etc. Sometimes groups of mentors and mentees go on outings together and other times mentor/mentee pairs explore on their own.


Workshops are attended by mentees along with their mentors. These interactive programs are led by the program coordinator, mentors, and/or psychology interns. Sometimes panelists or guest speakers are brought in to cover specific topics (i.e. parents or religious leaders). These workshops not only provide educational opportunities for the mentees, but they also provide opportunities for mentees to interact and network with other mentees and mentors. Topics may include:

  • Coming out
  • Overcoming internalized homophobia
  • Dating
  • Relationship skills
  • Multiple identities (e.g., intersection of sexual orientation and ethnic/racial identity, gender, religious/spiritual)
  • Religion and/or spirituality


Questions about the LGBTQ Mentor Program can be directed to Carolyn O'Keefe, Psy.D. Coordinator/Advisor at (949) 824-6457 or by email at cokeefe@uci.edu or LGBT.mentors@uci.edu.

Interested in becoming an LGBTQ Mentor?

LGBTQ Mentors receive training from professional therapists covering topics such as: coming out, internalized homophobia, multiple identities, mental health issues, substance abuse, bisexuality, transgender issues. As a mentor you will positively impact a LGBTQ student’s life. With your support and care, a mentee may learn to develop a positive LGBTQ identity.

For more information, visit our Opportunities for Student Involvment page.