Stephen Forssell

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Stephen Forssell

Program Director, Teaching Assistant Professor

Teaching Faculty


Office Phone: 202-994-6316
Fax: (202) 994-1602
Columbian College of Arts & Sciences 801 22nd Street, NW, Phillips Hall, Room 722 Washington DC 20052

Dr. Stephen Forssell is the founder, director, and professor of the LGBT Health Policy & Practice Graduate Certificate Program at the George Washington University. In addition, he has been a professor in the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department at the George Washington University since 2002 where he teaches courses in sexuality and gender, health psychology, and social psychology. He is on the faculty of the Professional Psychology Program at GW.

Dr. Forssell’s expertise is in sexual orientation development, same-sex romantic relationships and parenting, HIV/AIDS risk behaviors, high risk sexual behavior interventions, adolescent and young adult romantic and sexual relationships, and health psychology.

Forssell, S. L., Gamache, P. & Dwan. R. (2020). Finding the right approach for interventions with LGBT populations. In R. Stall, B. Dodge, J. A. Bauermeister, T. Poteat & C. Beyrer (Eds.) LGBTQ health research. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Forssell, S. L. (2017). New developments in LGBT development: What's new and what's (still) true.  In R. Ruth & E. Santacruz (Eds.) LGBT psychology and mental health: Emerging research and advances. New York, NY: ABC-CLIO.

Forssell, S. L., Swift-Erslev, N., Davis, C. J., Ruth, R, Zucker, A. N., Glezen, S. J., Cunningham, M., Parrish, B., Streed, C. G. & Schlittler, R. L. (2017). Quality and equality:  An interdisciplinary graduate program to develop agents of change in LGBT health. In R. Ruth & E. Santacruz (Eds.) LGBT psychology and mental health: Emerging research and advances. New York, NY: ABC-CLIO.

Forssell, S., & Poirier, J.M. (2013). Dads who are gay or fathers of LGBT Children. In: A guide for father involvement in systems of care (Edition 2). Washington, DC: Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health,

Forssell, S. L., Poirier, J. M. & Kenney, R. (2012) Internet-based information and resources for supporting LGBT youth and providing culturally competent services. Improving Emotional and Behavioral Outcomes for LGBT Youth: A Guide for Professionals.

Lazear, K., Forssell, S. L., Denny. T. & Roepke, S. (2012). Effective therapeutic and programmatic interventions and resources. In S. K. Fisher, C. Ryan & G. M. Blau (Eds.) Improving Emotional and Behavioral Outcomes for LGBT Youth: A Guide for Professionals.

Farr, R. H., Forssell, S. L., & Patterson, C. J. (2010). Parenting and child development in adoptive families: Does parental sexual orientation matter? Applied Developmental Science, 14, 164-178.

Farr, R. H., Forssell, S. L., & Patterson, C. J. (2010). Gay, lesbian, and heterosexual adoptive parents: Couple and relationship issues. Journal of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Family Studies, 6(2), 199-213.

Forssell, S. L. (2006). Male couple communication about outside sexual activity. Division 44 Newsletter, 22(3), 23-24. American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.

His research activities involve same-sex couple romantic relationships and sexual behaviors, attachment, and child development.  His most recent work investigated parenting capabilities, partner relationship quality, and child outcomes in adoptive gay, lesbian and bisexual parented families. "Toddlers and Preschoolers Parenting Study" looked at adopted toddlers and pre-school age children raised by gay male, lesbian, and heterosexual parents. There were no differences in child outcomes or family variables based on couple type (opposite sex, same-sex male, same-sex female).

The "Male Couples Relationships Study" examined how male couples of varying sexual openness types (sexually open, closed or “monogamous”, and “no agreement” about sexual exclusivity) compared in the quality of their relationships, psychological adjustment, communication about outside sex, and HIV prevention practices. Results indicated that couples with higher levels of communication about their sexual relationship, including outside sexual activity, showed better couple adjustment and lower levels of jealousy.  Open couples showed lower levels of jealousy than closed couples.

Dr. Forssell also designs program evaluations for the Human Services Administration, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and for private agencies including the National Minority AIDS Council and the AIDS Alliance. 

PSYD 6202: Our Psychology, Ourselves: LGBT Mental Health
PSYD 6221: LGBT Youth and Adolescence
PSYC 3150: Psychology of Sex Differences
PSYC 1001: Introduction to Psychology
HONR 2047: Introduction to Psychology: A Perspectives Approach


Course Offerings

Dr. Forssell received a B.A. in Psychology (with Highest Honors) from the University of Virginia (1998). He received his Masters (2002) and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Denver (2004). He is a graduate of the Kinsey Summer Institutes on High-Risk Sexual Behavior at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction.