UMass Boston

Professor Wins Top Award for Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology

11/18/2020| Crystal Valencia

Professor and Graduate Program Director of Counseling Psychology Sharon Horne has received the 2020 Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology from the American Psychological Association—one of the most prestigious honors given by the national organization.

 Professor Sharon Horne presenting at the Irish Psychological Association.
Professor Sharon Horne presenting at the Irish Psychological Association.

Horne has devoted her career in psychology to the advancement of international concerns through her scholarship, teaching, and mentoring.

“I felt honored to receive this award, and to be nominated by colleagues I’ve worked closely with in four countries,” she said. “I came to psychology through my engagement in international work, and have always sought to increase greater transnational awareness in the field.”

Horne says one of the contributions she’s most proud of is chairing the development of a global statement that describes standards for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI+) mental health care and a commitment to advocating for rights that has now been endorsed by 40 national psychology organizations and translated into 11 languages.  This statement sets an international standard for LGBTI+ affirmative mental health care that has furthered advocacy within psychology globally and is represented by organizations in all regions of the world.

“It is an example of what we can do together and as a field to advance LGBTI+ concerns—and this solidarity and commitment to working together is vital to stop the real and current abuses and threats to the lives of LGBTI+ people and people of other stigmatized groups, whether it’s in Belarus, Nigeria, Iran, or here in the U.S.,” Horne said. 

Horne also has documented LGBTQ+ experiences in the mid-2000s in Russia, which foreshadowed the return of repressive policies on sexual and gender minority concerns. She has conducted research on LGBTQ+ activism throughout the world, interviewing high profile activists.

“Sharon Horne has made substantive contributions to transnational LGBT research and training,” the APA reward committee wrote. “She has been shaping and fostering the development of psychology all over the world.”

Horne received a Fulbright Global Scholar Award (2018-2021) for her project, “The Role of Psychology Policies and Guidelines on Mental Health Access and Treatment of Individuals of Diverse Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities.” She worked with colleagues in Colombia and South Africa to explore how LGBT people receive mental health support and how prepared mental health professionals are to work with LGBT people as clients. As a representative for the American Psychological Association on LGBTQ concerns, Horne has been collaborating with colleagues in Colombia, South Africa, and the Philippines for several years now.

Due to the pandemic, Horne had to put the third part of this project, based upon collaborations in the Philippines, on hold until next summer.

In the meantime, she has moved forward with research on LGBTI+ mental health access and treatment with data collection in Russia and Iran, and plans to continue her work in South Africa and Colombia, which have been models of how psychology can be a change agent for LGBTI concerns.

“It’s always inspiring to see how LGBTI+ people across contexts navigate the challenges they face while finding common purpose in advocating for people to have the freedom to love, to create their families of choice, and to live authentically regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” she said.  

The American Psychological Association is the world’s largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology, with more than 134,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students as its members. The organization seeks to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives. One of the means by which the APA accomplishes these goals is by honoring extraordinary professionals.

Awardees received an honorarium and presented an address at the annual APA conference this past August.