Transgender and transsexual people may seek counselling or therapy specifically because of their feelings about gender, or for another issue. Sometimes they will attend with a presenting issue that masks the gender issue, and while wanting to bring it up, may feel unable to. A trans client may attend for an entirely unrelated issue and be sensitive to the counsellor’s reaction to their trans status, and fear being pathologised because they are trans. This training helps counsellors and therapists to become conversant with the many variations in gender identity, with the history and experiences of trans people, with the possible variety of aetiology, and in particular highlights the importance of working with transference and countertransference.
Since gender variant people in our society have grown up without validation for their feelings and sense of self, and in a society largely hostile to them, the training also focusses on the internalised processes that this engenders. It provides counsellors and therapists with a wider understanding and appreciation of gender variance and an opportunity to look at their own feelings about gender. It also gives factual and practical information about the realities of gender transition and gender identity. As the media continues to cover gender variance in a more neutral way, and the internet provides instant information, more people are feeling able to seek help and advice, and counsellors and therapists are becoming increasingly likely to be approached by this client group.