Seattle Counseling Service records, 1963-2001

Overview of the Collection

Seattle Counseling Service
Seattle Counseling Service records
1963-2001 (inclusive)
2.31 cubic feet (4 boxes)
Collection Number
6391 (Accession No. 6391-001)
Records of an LGBT mental health counseling service in Seattle
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2065431929
Fax: 2065431931
Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access to textual materials. No user access copy is currently available for DVDs or VHS tape. Arrangements can be made to preview DVDs onsite in the Special Collections Reading Room by contacting Special Collections well in advance of your visit. Users may be able to obtain a reproduction of the material for a fee by contacting Special Collections.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Seattle Counseling Service (SCS) was the first mental health agency for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender persons in the United States. Started as part of the Dorian Society in Seattle, SCS later expanded in 1969 to become an independent organization. Dr. Robert Deisher founded the Seattle Counseling Service for Homosexuals in 1969 with a $3600 grant from the Erickson Foundation through the University of Washington. SCS shared a space with the Dorian Society on Malden Avenue East, and was staffed by volunteer psychiatrists and professional graduate students.

In 1973 the name was changed to Seattle Counseling Service for Sexual Minorities to reflect more diverse identities, and in 1974 it became a licensed mental health center. SCS expanded its services to include group therapy (1979), a support group for gay men of color (1980), the first same-sex domestic violence program (1983), an HIV antibody test counseling program (1985), and a harm reduction program in collaboration with ProjectNEON and the King County Health Department (2003). Marsha Botzer organized a transgender support group (1974) at SCS which eventually became the Ingersoll Gender Center (1977). SCS also was an original sponsor of Lambert House, an on-site organization for LGBTQ youth.

Seattle Counseling Service faced a number of funding challenges over the years, even as it gained support from King County Mental Health Services and United Way of King County. It moved locations several times, relocating to the Central District (1973), Capitol Hill (1977), Queen Anne (1990), Capitol Hill again (1995), and finally to Downtown Seattle (2020). In 2022, following the Covid-19 pandemic and continued financial difficulty, Seattle Counseling Service announced it would close its doors on May 6, 2022.

Source: Historical notes found in collection, "Dorian Columns" newsletters, Seattle Times,

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Annual reports, history, news clippings, Arlene Nelson's writings, photographs, DVDs of annual ICON fundraiser show, and ephemera related to the Seattle Counseling Service.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Creator's copyrights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Donated by Al Guerra, June 16, 2021.

Related Materials

Dorian Group records (coll. 5074) Charna Klein papers (coll. 5090)

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Container(s) Description Dates
1/1 Agency History
Compilations, documentation, Northwest Lesbian and Gay Museum Project (NWLGMP) interview, "Counseling Our Own"
1/2 Annual Reports
Missing 1990-1994
1/3 Annual Reports 2002-2013
1/4 Newsletters 1970-1994
1/5 Newsletters 2000-2011
1/6 Strategic Plan 1994
1/7 Staff Roster undated
1/8 Board of Directors Agendas, Financial Statement 1994, 1993
1/9 Seattle Counseling Service (SCS) Brochures, Publicity, Press Releases undated
1/10-11 Resources
Essays and articles for reference; coming out history
Collected by agency
1967-early 1990s
1/12 Northwest Lesbian and Gay History Museum Project (NWLGHMP)
Oral history, interviews, notes
1/13 Direct Mail Campaign 2005, 2007
1/14 Certificates and Recognition 1994, 1998, 2000
1/15 Events--Flyers and invitations
Includes Founders Day (2002), "Get on Board," 20th Anniversary, Linda Lake Reception, etc.
1/16 30th Anniversary
Includes planning information, photos from Anniversary Party
1/17 45h Anniversary Gala 2014
1/18 Arleen Nelson's Retirement Celebration
Includes invitation, photos from party
1/19 11th Annual International Parents FLAG Convention
Includes commemorative program, photos
1/20 Annual Board/Staff Retreat 1973, 1979-1980
1/21 "Herstorical" Contract: SISTER (Seattle Institute for Sex Therapy, Education and Research) 1975
1/22 Sexual Minority Training
Folder containing SCS's "Homophobia Matrix"; papers: "Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapy" by Dr. Haldeman, "The Connection Between Homophobia and Violence Against Women" by Suzanne Pharr, "Enhancing Services for Sexual-Minority Clients" By Rabin et al.
1/23 IRUO (Immigrant, Refugee, Undocumented Outreach) Project 2015
1/24 "Politics and Privacy" Workshop handouts
Sponsored by Professional Rights and Responsibilities Commission (Private Lives Issues Study Group)
1/25 "Making Schools Safe for Gay and Lesbian Youth" -- Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth 1993
1/26 "Examples from the Field: Programmatic Efforts to Improve Cultural Competence in Mental Health Services"
Prepared by: National Technical Assistance Center for State Mental Health Planning (NTAC)
1/27 "Partners" newsletters 1988-1990
1/28 Arleen Nelson--Writings
Includes Master's thesis, "Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Services in a Mental Health Agency," "Seattle Counseling Service for Sexual Minorities"
1975, 1990, 1993
1/29 "The Lost Blossom" by Kathleen Foudray
Handwritten note: "Chapter on Arleen"
1/30 NEON's "Amphetazine" 2005-2006
1/31 News clippings--SCS and staff approximately 2000-2014
2/4 News clippings--SCS and staff approximately 1969-1999
1/32 Miscellaneous
Includes SCS letterhead, obituaries, informal memos
1/33 Photo Negatives
Includes contact sheet
1/34 DVDs
7 DVDs
Includes DVDs of ICON III-V, 40th Anniversary Celebration, World AIDS Day 2009, poster designs
2/3 Photo Files: Corporate Management undated
3 Photo Files: Assorted photographs approximately 1984-2009
2/2 Photo Files: Assorted photographs approximately 2003-2005
2/5 Assorted Event Posters and SCS Signage undated, 2014
2/6 ICON: A Celebration of Drag, Art and Life!--I-XI
Posters, flyers, programs
4 Speed, Sex and Sanity
Posters, event information
approximately 2006-2007
2/7 Seattle Counseling Service Moving Signs and Information 2014
2/8 Floor Plans 2006
2/1 Ephemera
Pride pins, an event stamped balloon, postcard, banner
4 VHS: DSHS "Do Ask, Do Tell" Sexual Minority Training
1 VHS tape
4 Banner
"Seattle Counseling Service Proudly Serving Our LGBT Communities for 35 Years!"

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)