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ISGMH Welcomes New Faculty Member Leiszle Lapping-Carr

leiszle-lapping-carr-170x170.jpgThe Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH) at Northwestern University welcomed its newest faculty member, Leiszle Lapping-Carr, PhD, in January 2024.

Prior to joining ISGMH, Lapping-Carr was appointed to Feinberg School of Medicine as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Lapping-Carr has worked with ISGMH at various stages of her doctoral training and early career, starting during her clinical internship at Northwestern in 2018.

Queering Sexual Health Interventions

Currently, Lapping-Carr’s main area of research is the perinatal mental health of LGBTQ+ individuals.

“I am working to adapt perinatal mental health interventions that are mostly geared towards heterosexual and cisgender women to be applicable to and inclusive of the needs and realities of queer and trans people.”

This work involves expanding the language used to describe pregnant individuals and parents in the evidence-based Mothers and Babies intervention. Lapping-Carr’s queer-friendly update to the intervention will be called “Parents and Babies” and use more flexible pronouns and terminology that don’t assume parents’ gender identities.

“Many of the basic suggestions we want to give queer parents—such as fostering mindfulness and developing coping strategies—are not substantively different than those already set out in the Mothers and Babies intervention. But the specifics of those suggestions and examples used to illustrate them need to be tweaked to be more applicable to queer families. We also want to introduce other concepts like minority stress and social safety, which are societal stressors that really impact LGBTQ+ folks’ mental health in a way that cis, heterosexual women don’t experience,” explained Lapping-Carr.

Beyond her work with perinatal interventions, Lapping-Carr is interested in the sexual and reproductive health in LGBTQ+ populations more broadly.

“Researching sexual health in the LGBTQ+ population often means focusing HIV and risky behaviors. However, I come from sex therapy background and am interested in pleasure, functioning, and having healthy sexual relationships. These very important aspects of sexual health tend to be strained during major reproductive experiences like pregnancy, menopause, and fertility treatment. This is where my passion lies,” said Lapping-Carr.

Connecting Clinical Work and Research

In addition to her work as a researcher, Lapping-Carr is a certified sex therapist who sees LGBTQ+ individuals and couples. Lapping-Carr’s patients are referred to her when experiencing issues like reproductive distress and relationship concerns. She also supervises several trainees who benefit from her clinical experience and training.

“While this is improving, there are relatively few sex therapists who feel competent in working with the trans population, largely due to the fact that people don’t receive much training working with trans patients. But this is a population that I have always cared about, so I purposely sought out trainings and supervisors who would help me be a good clinician who is responsive to and respectful of trans patients’ needs,” said Lapping-Carr.

Lapping-Carr noted that her clinical and research work both inform and influence each other.

“I am so immersed in research on current trends and recommendations in my field, that I have an extra confidence knowing I am up to date on what I do as a clinician. Doing this deep therapeutic work with individuals also gives me ideas for future research and helps me learn what questions to ask. By connecting with others, I am able to think outside of my own experience and incorporate the perspectives of others into my research,” said Lapping-Carr.

Read Leiszle Lapping-Carr’s Research

Perinatal Depression Screening Among Sexual Minority Women, JAMA Psychiatry

Stress and Depression Are Associated with Sexual Function and Satisfaction in Young Men Who Have Sex with Men, Archives of Sexual Behavior

Evidence for the Impact of Stress and Trauma on Sexual Function in Women: Review and Clinical Recommendations, Obstetrics & Gynecology Clinics