Guidelines for Therapists Working With Transgender Clients

Guidelines for Therapists Working With Transgender Clients

Arlene Istar Lev
[Abstract] Full Text [PDF]

Therapists working with transgender clients must have a thorough understanding of gender identity issues, including information on the differences between gender and sexual identity, and the social construction of gender dimorphism. Therapists must be knowledgeable about the current DSM diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder, and the most recent Standards of Care developed by the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association.

Therapists must be aware of the issues being raised within the Transgender Liberation movement regarding the socio-political forces in the construction of gender identity and the limitations of a bipolar gender system, as well as the diversity of gender expressions.

Therapists must have a general knowledge of mental health issues and training in eclectic psychotherapeutic techniques.

Therapists must be able to assess for mental illness, as well as addictions and trauma related symptomology.

Therapists must be cognizant of the impact of stress on gender dysphoria and not pathologize the clients’ stress related symptoms. Therapists must have a humanistic perspective that supports the empowerment of client self-identification.

Therapists should be knowledgeable about issues related to gender identity, sexuality, sexual identity and gender role development, and be comfortable talking about these issues.

Therapists should be sensitive to the impact of family systems concerns including family of origin, and current partners and children, and able to provide services or referrals for family members.

Therapists should have resources available for clients, including referrals to endocrinologists and/or psychiatrists, gender clinics, and support groups, as well as recommendations for bibliotherapy and Internet sites.

Copyright ©1998, Arlene Istar Lev
Arlene Istar Lev CSW-R, CASAC is a family therapist who specializes in working with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities. She is the founder and Clinical Director of Choices Counseling & Consulting, and adjuncts at SUNY Albany, and Vermont College of Norwich University. She can be reached at 321 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12206. 518-463-9152.


Citation: An article published on the Internet by Arlene Istar Lev <>