fbpx Finding a gender therapist

 

HOW TO FIND A GENDER THERAPIST

Most therapists are not specialized in, or even adequately educated about, how to provide counseling and support for gender identity concerns. Unfortunately, many therapists will naively accept clients who are dealing with gender conflicts, believing that traditional counseling techniques will be sufficient. Seeing an unskilled therapist can greatly delay your journey toward peace with gender.

 

Complete the GENDER INQUIRY FORM to Determine How Many Sessions You will Need for a Letter of Referral

A SKILLED GENDER THERAPIST WILL…

 

* Clarify the issues through an efficient diagnosis (which should take no more than a session or two) to distinguish whether or not you are experiencing gender dysphoria according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual DSM-V 

 

* Provide accurate information about gender dysphoria, the continuum of gender expression from FTM to non-conforming to non-binary, to gender fluid, to MTF and everything in between.

 

* Clearly communicate the steps involved, and the related requirements of, a gender transition. This involves a clear understanding of how to clarify the difference between a gender-related fetish, a cross-dressing expression of gender that is not an identity, as well as what it looks like to have a strong and enduring sense of misalignment with one’s core gender.

 

* A skilled gender therapist can direct you toward important resources to assist in whatever transition process you have chosen. This includes common issues involved in a transition such as name-change process, coming out at home and work, peer support, hair removal option, physician referrals for HRT, surgery, and all other resources related to a gender transition.

 

* Assist individuals in exploring realistic alternatives to gender transition*. The best decision for dealing with a gender conflict is different for each client. A skilled gender therapist will offer creativity, flexibility, and the capacity to envision resolution when there seems to be none.

 

* Provide marital and family counseling services, or connect you to a friendly provider through professional associates to help your spouse, parents, children and other family members deal with the changes that are occurring or will occur.

 

* Be of help with workplace and professional issues, offering guidance to clients about how to decide if and how to transition to your current job.

 

* Offer gender-specific therapy and support groups (not mixed-groups with multiple issues – such as sexual orientation as that is a different focus altogether) that are effective resources in your individuals refine your social skills and become comfortable in their new gender expression.

 

* Have a deep sense of appreciation, not pity, for transgendered people. Using appropriate and respectful language to refer to persons with non-conforming gender experiences and feelings.

* A skilled therapist will not assume the gender pronouns and name you prefer to go by, they will ask, and then consistently and appropriately use these.

 

* Be familiar with and able to apply the Standards for Care (SOC’s) of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). 

 

* Be able to answer the following questions to your satisfaction:

– Are you a member of World Professional Association for Transgender Health?

– Do you follow the Standards of Care?

– How many letters of referral have you written and for what services? (HRT, Surgeries, etc).

– How many sessions does it usually take for you to complete an assessment and referral for HRT (or whatever service you desire)?

– What is required to qualify for a letter of referral?

 

For a person struggling with gender issues counseling can be a very overwhelming, and in some cases, a very ineffective experience. If you have been seeing a gender therapist, or perhaps just a therapist, for over a year, and you find yourself writing an online advice column for answers about why you haven’t moved toward your goals, it might be time for a change! If nothing else, it is imperative after a year of counseling that you understand where you are headed and how you are working together to get there!

Unfortunately, most therapists, psychiatrists, counselors and other mental health providers, are not adequately trained through formal education to address the needs of gender-variant clients. To become prepared, a clinician, like myself, must pursue ongoing education through workshop attendance, staying current with relevant reading and research, membership in professional organizations such as WPATH, and gaining real experience working with this population. Many therapists will naively accept clients who are dealing with gender conflicts, assuming that by attempting to apply basic counseling techniques they will benefit the client. Unfortunately, this is often not true, and can inadvertently cause delay in getting the assistance needed.

Ideally, a gender therapist should…

1) Clarify the issues through a quick diagnosis (which should take no more than a few sessions at best) to distinguish between transgender and a mental disorder that appears to be transgender, but is actually not.

2) Assist the transgendered person in considering the implication of a gender transition – neither encouraging, nor discouraging, the person as they make their decision. Provide accurate information about the requirements of a transition, the common pitfalls and challenges. The counselor must also be comfortable assisting individuals with complicated, and at times, disturbing, life decisions.

3) Assist the individual in finding other resources that will assist in whatever transition process the client has chosen. This includes common issues involved in a transition such as, name-change process, hair removal option, physician referrals, and all other resources related to a gender transition.

4) Assist individuals in exploring realistic alternatives to gender transition. The best decision for dealing with a gender conflict is different for each client. A skilled gender therapist will offer creativity, flexibility, and the capacity to envision resolution when there seems to be none.

5) Provide marital and family counseling services, or connect them to a friendly provider through professional associates to help spouse, parents, children and other family members deal with the changes that are occurring or will occur.

6) Be of help with workplace and professional issues, offering guidance to clients about how to decide if and how to transition on their current job.

7) Offer gender-specific therapy and support groups (not mixed-groups with multiple issues – such as sexual orientation as that is a different focus all together) that are effective resources in helping individuals refine their social skills and become comfortable in their new gender expression.

8) Have a deep sense of appreciation, not pity, for transgendered people.

9) Be familiar with and able to apply the Standards of Care (SOC’s) of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association. These standards should be applied with fairness and integrity.

10) Outline the specific requirements that the therapist will expect of the client in order to fulfill the SOC’s . This should be done in a way that both client and therapist will be able to agree when these requirements are met. Clients should always ask and expect an answer to the question, “What will I need to accomplish before you will write a letter of recommendation for hormone (or surgical) treatment.