What Does the Psychotherapeutic Literature Reveal About Therapist's Experiential Responses to Working in Psychotherapy With Trans- Clients?

Thomson, Sally-Anne
Collens, Paula
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Master of Psychotherapy
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Auckland University of Technology

“Transgender is a phenomenon that remains misunderstood, controversial, and anxiety-provoking in the culture at large, especially in the field of psychoanalysis” (Pula, 2015, p. 809)

The aim of this research is to search for understanding to support clinicians who might be grappling with the complexity of working therapeutically with trans- clients. Using a hermeneutic methodology this dissertation seeks to uncover what the psychotherapeutic literature reveals about therapists’ experiential responses when working with trans- clients.

A hermeneutic review of the literature explores authors’ qualitative observations and conceptual reflections on the nature of the experience of clinicians working with trans- clients. The research reveals the dearth of material that describes the experiential response of the therapist working with this client group. This study identifies a strong argument for further research which encourages participation from trans- clinicians and trans- clients, and the increasing need for trans-affirmative training for clinicians.

The literature revealed an intersubjective world of experiencing which is deeply complex and interwoven between therapist and client. The literature foregrounds the perplexing and disturbing space in which the therapists find themselves. The troubling role of the gatekeeper is identified and thought is given to the way in which this role may impact on the experiential responses of the therapist. The importance of the therapist’s somatic responses in the work is considered. A key theme identified across the literature is the imperative for therapists to hold a responsive, reflective space in which to process their troubling and disorientating experiential responses in their therapeutic work with trans-clients.

Trans- , Therapists , Experiential responses , Psychotherapy
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