IHI--Nation's Longest-running Mental Healthcare Provider for LGBTQ+ Community--Names New Executive Director, Expands Practice

Under new leadership, the Institute for Human Identity doubles its facility capacity, augments services for more diverse clinical and educational offerings.

Feb. 10, 2020 – NEW YORK. The Institute for Human Identity (IHI Therapy Center) —the first and longest-running mental health organization in the U.S. to provide sexual and gender identity-affirming psychotherapy to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer people—has named Tara Lombardo, LMHC , as its new executive director.

Ms. Lombardo, 41, started at IHI in 2010 as a clinical intern and became IHI’s associate director in 2012. In just eight years, Ms. Lombardo--with then executive director Benet Hennessey, LMHC --boosted the organization’s financial sustainability, increasing its revenue by 75% to $1M annually. Under Mr. Hennessey's and Ms. Lombardo’s leadership, IHI also doubled the number of therapists on staff, and quadrupled the number of clients it serves.

“IHI’s rich history parallels the LGBTQ+ movement in this country. We have grown with the movement, and I feel that affirmation of queer experience is the key to that growth,” said Ms. Lombardo. “I am honored to be building upon this legacy and working to better serve folks who have not had access to queer-affirming mental health services that recognize the intersections of race, ethnicity, and culture with LGBTQ+ identities.”

IHI Therapy Center opened its doors in 1973, soon after its founder Dr. Charles Silverstein, PhD, persuaded the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disordersˆ, the premier diagnostic manual for mental health professionals in the U.S.

Today, the nearly 50-year-old non-profit is largely self-funded and continues to train New York’s mental health professionals in the most progressive and culturally-affirmative practices. In 2019, IHI provided over 11,000 psychotherapy sessions to clients. 

IHI expands clinical services and educational offerings
IHI is also expanding its practice to encompass approximately 5,000 square-feet of office space to accommodate nearly 1,000 clients by the end of 2020, doubling the number of clients it currently serves.

As part of that expansion, IHI will augment its mental health services to support a more diverse array of client needs as well as launch new workshops and trainings in LGBTQ+ issues offered to the public.

As executive director, Ms. Lombardo will lead IHI’s current services—which include psychotherapy, clinical training, and LGBTQ+ cultural education—while exploring new initiatives to meet clients’ needs. The organization will focus on improving services for transgender and gender non-conforming clients; introducing in-house psychiatric assessment and psychopharmacology; and continuing to strengthen staff therapists’ clinical skills and competencies.

“For the short term,” remarked Lombardo, “we’re focusing on enhancing services such as support groups and workshops to better serve the needs of our community. We’re also working to include in-house psychiatric assessment and medication management as well as enriching our therapists’ clinical competencies in the issues that clients are specifically bringing into the room.”

With its newly expanded facilities, IHI will also increase the number of supportive, skills-building, and psychotherapy groups it offers as well as present live workshops for clients and the public on issues important to LGBTQ+ advocacy and mental health.

Ms. Lombardo, a licensed mental health counselor with over a decade of clinical experience, is an alumnus of Brooklyn College and New York University.

After successfully leading IHI for the past eight years, Mr. Hennessey has stepped down as its executive director. He will continue to serve as director emeritus and as a member of IHI’s executive board.

About the Institute for Human Identity (IHI)
The Institute for Human Identity was founded in 1973 to fill an important need: providing affirmative professional mental health services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. After leading the successful struggle to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , the founders of IHI recognized the need for a LGBTQ+ psychotherapy and clinical training center that could address people’s emotional problems while respecting and fostering their unique sexual orientation and gender identities.

Today, IHI Therapy Center provides over 11,000 sessions of psychotherapy annually to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. IHI’s Advanced Clinical Internship program, a graduate-level training program for mental health professionals, prepares competent, queer-affirming therapists for future practice. IHI Competency Courses, the organization’s external educational initiative, provides continuing education and professional development to mental health professionals as well as cultural competency trainings for corporations and organizations seeking to better serve and support LGBTQ+ employees and clients.
For more information about IHI, visit: www.ihitherapy.org . Follow IHI on Instagram @ihitherapy and on Facebook @ihitherapycenter.
The Institute for Human Identity