Caitlin Ryan is the Director of the Family Acceptance Project® – a research, education, intervention and policy project – to help ethnically, racially and religiously diverse families to support their LGBTQ children. Dr. Ryan is a clinical social worker, researcher and educator who has worked on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) health and mental health for more than 40 years and whose work on LGBTQ health has shaped policy and practice for LGBTQ and gender diverse children and youth. She received her clinical training with children and adolescents at Smith College School for Social Work. Dr. Ryan pioneered community-based AIDS services at the beginning of the epidemic; initiated the first major study to identify lesbian health needs in the early 1980s; and has worked to reduce risk and promote well-being for LGBTQ youth since the early 1990s. She started the Family Acceptance Project with Dr. Rafael Diaz in 2002 to help diverse families to decrease rejection and prevent related health risks for their LGBT children - including suicide, drug use, homelessness and HIV - and to promote family acceptance and positive outcomes including permanency.
Dr. Ryan and her team have developed the first evidence-informed family support model and a range of research-based materials and assessment tools to help families and caregivers to support their LGBT children, including Best Practice resources for suicide prevention and a series of short documentary films that show the journey from struggle to support of diverse families with LGBT children. Dr. Ryan is implementing FAP’s family support model in behavioral health, family preservation, out-of-home care, including foster care, school-based care and pastoral care, and has integrated core FAP components into Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). She has provided education and training for on this work more than 92,000 families, providers and religious leaders across the U.S. and in other countries. Dr. Ryan’s work has been recognized by many national professional groups in the fields of counseling, medicine, nursing, psychiatry, psychology and social work, and by civic, LGBTQ, advocacy, arts and faith-based groups. She has served on many national advisory groups including the Committee on LGBT Health for the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences and the LGBT Suicide Prevention Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. Dr. Ryan works with organizations, faith communities, families and providers to integrate FAP’s family-based support approach to build healthy futures for LGBTQ children, youth and young adults across disciplines, services and systems.