Explorative therapist for gender dysphoria?

I’m looking for a therapist who uses the exploratory model, to help support my child with gender dysphoria (transgender identification). That is, someone using supportive psychotherapeutic exploration (of the kind used in this book and this  short summary article).  Their model notes: “We have observed that the desire to transition is often connected to an attempt to distance the person from the psychic pain related to internal and/or external traumatic experiences.” It seems relevant for my young person, as it has occurred when there are mental health issues like being on the spectrum, not “fitting in”, being depressed, anxious, having trauma.  It has been seen to help people recover from gender dysphoria (examples are in this study, these cases, these cases).  

I’m only finding Bay Area therapists who use the affirmation model (e.g., Ehrensaft) which is based on assuming most mental health issues come from cultural reactions to gender dysphoria, rather than sometimes causing it. It doesn’t seem to include exploring and treating first the mental health issues which sometimes cause gender dysphoria. (I’m also leery of having my young mentally distressed person castrated by medical transition, especially if transition is not what is needed.) 

Again, given the mental issues present and the possibility they are causing my young person's gender dysphoria, I’d be grateful for pointers to therapists who use an approach which explores for and then treats, if appropriate, this possibility.  Thank you.

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

Following this. Also interested in finding a similar therapist. I don't see responses, but there must be someone out there. Not interested in having my child sterilized when he's so young (<16) and too mentally unstable to give anything near informed consent, but he needs help with his distress and he needs to be in a better place in order to prepare for the changes he'll go through if he transitions.

Omg very much following this. My own teen sounds very much like yours. Hugs to you 

Also interested in seeing responses to this. My former son just came out to us today as a trans girl. We want to be completely supportive and are using preferred pronouns and name, but I’m worried about moving too quickly into puberty blockers, which I understand do have serious side effects. I want her to be sure this is what she really needs rather than her not addressing other problems—she is going to be tested for ADD and learning differences but she’s been struggling with anxiety for a long time. In many ways, her coming out is a huge relief—last year was a nightmare for us as she was clearly going through something but couldn’t communicate what it was. I just want to be sure, since she showed no signs through eighth grade that she was unhappy being a boy. She came to this conclusion over the course of the past year, which was disastrous and traumatic in so many ways for so many kids. Thanks for any help and take care, parents who are going through similar times! It’s been incredibly difficult for everyone.

Following and plus one on all your comments!

Here's a link to a new organization which may eventually have links to therapists--https://genderexploratory.com/

There may be some other useful resources at genspect.org (an organization for parents of gender -questioning kids)

I have also been seeking a local therapist who can help my trans-identified teen who also has some other mental health concerns-- I have stopped seeking a 'gender therapist' though, as I came to realize that moniker usually indicates an enthusiastic and unquestioning embrace of the gender affirmative approach, regardless of individual circumstances. I have decided instead to look for a therapist who might be skilled with treating my child's other issues and screen the person ahead of time to see what their thoughts on gender are-- many therapists I have talked to don't even seem to realize there IS an alternative approach to automatic gender affirmation. I don't necessarily want someone to talk my child out of their feelings, just someone with an open mind and a warm heart to hold the space and ask good questions while my teen struggles with these existential questions over time (as opposed to rapid referral for hormone therapy). I kinda thought that is what therapy is about, but this has been surprisingly hard to find. So for now, I'm just trying to find a reasonable person to teach my child some useful skills to deal with emotional regulation, etc. 

Good luck to you and your child. 

Find out all you can about blockers and focus on the other other mental health conditions. Blockers really increased the distress for my kid, not the opposite. I have huge regret about agreeing to them. Line up a good therapist first so your kid can get a good handle on what’s going on before going down what is ALWAYS a one-way path, but not necessarily the only one or the right one for all kids. Sweden and Finland have already stopped these treatments for most teens for good reason.

I do have several referrals of therapist who works with gender exploration and will support many young people who are now detransitioning. Please PM me for referrals. 

Also check out this group focused on appropriate gender care. https://www.gccan.org/


Original poster here, thank you for the leads. 

I went to Genspect.org and found they have guidelines for therapists at https://genspect.org/guidance/
although they don't have a list of names.  As I didn't receive names, and several of us seem to be asking,  I wanted to mention that I am now going to try instead to share these guidelines with a therapist who "holds the space" and who "asks good questions", as one of you suggested.

Thank you.