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Is Your Therapist Qualified?

Carolyn Marie

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We all tend to believe that if someone hangs a sign over their door saying "Doctor Whatever" they must be qualified, right?  Not necessarily. There have been disgruntled members here who were anything but satisfied with their therapist. Some were rude, some unfamiliar with TG issues, some just unqualified.

How can you avoid similar problems? You need to ask questions and when in doubt, ask for documentation.


I know, you think its not cool to ask, or the therapist won't like you or won't take you as a client.  If they said or did that, you don't want them as your therapist. You have the right to know they're qualified. After all, you're paying them hard earned cash, plus your future is at stake. So how do you go about it? Here are several tips:


1. Check out the list of gender therapists on this site. Use this link. http://www.lauras-playground.com/gender_therapists.htm  To get on Laura's list, the therapist has to certify that they follow the WPATH Standards of Care, and have some special training in gender issues, but you still should follow the other guidelines I suggest below.


2 Once you locate a therapist, ask them some basic questions before you make your first appointment. Ask them where they got their degree, what kind of degree is it? What kind of training or education did they receive to allow them to consider themselves a gender therapist? How many TG patients have they treated over what period of time? If you are FtM, Androgynous, or have other less common gender issues, ask if they have experience with those kind of clients. If you plan on transitioning or think it may be in your future, ask if they

have seen clients who have successfully transitioned. Ask what professional associations they belong to.


3. Don't be afraid to ask about fees. Do they take insurance, what kinds? Do they charge different fees to insurance companies than they do for cash clients. Do they have a sliding scale for clients who cannot afford the standard fee? Is there an option for being seen less often?


4. When you get to their office, and you are still not sure about their qualifications, ask to see their diploma. You have the right to check with their college or university to make sure the diploma is legitimate.


5. If they are not a gender specialist, ask what they know about TG issues or how they would go about obtaining the necessary information. Ask if they are comfortable seeing a TG client, or if they are not comfortable with the idea of transition, if that is your goal. Ask them if they know of the WPATH SOC and

can follow it.


6. Last, but maybe the most important, ask around about a particular therapist, or for a good therapist in your town. Post a question in this forum.  If anyone has had experience with that G.T., I'm sure they will be happy to respond.


This may not be an exhaustive list. If I've left something out, please add to it. I hope this is helpful. Good luck!


Carolyn Marie

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Guest Joanna Phipps

This is ok and is good if you are in an area where you have choices. In some of the smaller centers you may have to be content with one of two things:

  • a long drive to a gender therapist
  • working with a regular therapist who is willing to learn on the job

My therapist falls into the second category and is doing a wonderful job of helping me. She has done her homework, knows the issues, and is compassioate enough to help with all of it. Id not trade her for all of the tea in China, I think the lesson here is just because you dont have access to a 'qualified' GT dont think that a regular therapist cant help you, of course all of the normal caveats apply.

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Guest Donna Jean
This is ok and is good if you are in an area where you have choices. In some of the smaller centers you may have to be content with one of two things:

  • a long drive to a gender therapist
  • working with a regular therapist who is willing to learn on the job

And don't discount that there are reputable "Online" therapists which is a viable option for those in the boonies or have conflicts with work or just aren't good at face-to-face!

Very good stuff, Carolyn...that is a very helpful post....Thanks, Honey!


Donna Jean

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Very Good Topic!

Covered very well and something that our members searching for a therapist should keep in mind.

It is not rude to ask questions about qualifications - you are hiring someone to help you - they have to pass the job interview.

You don't get insulted when a prospective employer ask to know about your qualifications, neither will they.

Remember they will be working for you to help you so if they don't know or care about your issues - do not hire them.

Those who are interested and willing to learn along the way can be very good but the key is how willing are they - it is a lot of work.

A good therapist quite often becomes a best friend - I wish that I could just go visit mine every couple of days or so just to sit around and chat over a nice cup of tea.

Love ya,


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This info is just in time. I'm waiting for a call back from the therapist, and I was so nervous cause I didn't know what to say or I didn't know what to ask. But these questions give me some really good structure and framing, so that way I don't rush into someone that's not going to help me the way I need.

Good stuff.

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My therapist is not a GT but he works in an office with 6 other therapists, 3 of which are GT who follow the SOC and have helped a large number transition, He asked me early on if i wanted to switch to one of the other 3 that are GT and i said i trust him and do not really want to switch, so we agreed to learn together, the 3 that are GT help him when he has questions and so far my transition has gone really good. He is also part of the gender team i will need to go before when it comes time to get the letters for srs. The best thing is talking to him is like talking to an old friend not a gatekeeper.


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Guest ChloëC

I really like all the posts so far. Only problem I see is that the general forum this is under is a little specialized. I hope that more than just ts people glance in here, because I think this can be an issue that affects a much wider community. This has been one of the concerns I have living in a relatively small town about seeing a therapist. Do they have the experience to understand what I'm saying.

I went in to see a doctor a few years ago regarding a physical problem and after jumping all over a totally unrelated problem that wasn't a problem, he finally got around to asking me to explain the symptoms and then disappeared for about 10 minutes and returned to basically reiterate to me what I had already discovered on the internet. I was not amused, because it was not help. The MRI was no help, and he finally gave up, while I am still experiencing the symptoms even at this moment.


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I just got my first call back from a therapist, and thanks to your questions and structure I was able to actually speak instead of stammer and studdered over what I wanted to ask.

Because of all the questions, she actually referred me to what she considers "experts" on the subject, and still offered that if they didn't work out she would try her best to help me out. Cool right? Honesty is the greatest thing ever.

I'm sure I've said this like 500 times, but thanks Carolyn Marie you're the best.

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  • Admin
I just got my first call back from a therapist, and thanks to your questions and structure I was able to actually speak instead of stammer and studdered over what I wanted to ask.

Because of all the questions, she actually referred me to what she considers "experts" on the subject, and still offered that if they didn't work out she would try her best to help me out. Cool right? Honesty is the greatest thing ever.

I'm sure I've said this like 500 times, but thanks Carolyn Marie you're the best.

You're most welcome, CJ. I'm glad it helped. :)

I hope it turns out well. Keep us posted, OK?

Carolyn Marie

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  • 1 year later...
Guest Lacey Lynne

Awesome thread, hon. Awesome advice too.

Though I completed my sessions with my Gender Therapist nearly a year ago, I love my therapist. Browse around her website and see what a renowned practioner is all about. She has a nationwide reputation as a specialist in transgendered counseling and research. I was VERY lucky to find her.


Dr. Farrell will be retiring from active practice in 4 months, having turned her practice over to a transman who is an excellent counselor himself, and she will becoming to the Great Pacific Northwest in semi-retirement to do research on things transgendered and to enjoy her life. She's The Bomb.

May you find a good gender therapist yourself if you are seeking one. They are out there. The people in the posts above told you all you need to know to find a good one.

Good luck to you! ;) Lacey

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  • 4 months later...
Guest AlexForever

A good cue on wheter the therapist that treats you is a decent one is hirs respect of your chosen pronouns. If hir refuses to do so, then you'd better walk away ASAP.

This might seem a no-brainer...but not all therapist unfortunately know much of LGBT issues, expecially trangender issues, sometimes even the "specialized" ones.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest StacyBeaumont

My therapist is awesome and she is a W-PATH member and she would like to have her information posted in the resourcces section of the site. How does she get her information on the site?

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  • Root Admin

The best way would be for her to contact Laura via email at [email protected] . We can always use another GT on board.


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  • 6 months later...
Guest Kael147

Hey all,

You know u've never thought to ask about my gt's qualifications. She is the only psychologist who works with trans identified people in my province. She does the assessments for the clinic that is funded by the government, so I just assumed. I don't suppose it matters since she is one of the gatekeepers to having srs paid for by the province. I guess I'll ask her next Friday when I do my gid assessment.

Thanks for the food for thought!


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Guest Amanda Whyte

The therapist I am hoping to see is on your list so that makes me happy. I have found another practice that says they work with gender issues. Is there a way I can ask them if they help people with gender issues, or try to "fix" them and lock them in their current sex? I dont mean I want a therapist who is not going to make sure I am doing the right thing, just dont want a therapist that only tryies to make the person stay the way they are. I had a general men's therapist that when I started discussing this just kept working on getting me to stop thinking that way and to read the Bible and pray. It was because my dad was a cross country trucker and never home and I was raised by my mom and sister. I stopped going to him but that stopped me for a couple of years now. It is hard to jump from one counselor to another.

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  • Admin

Amanda, if you are considering paying someone for their professional services, you are entitled to ask them any of the questions I suggested in this thread, or any other questions you want to ask. If they give you a hard time about it, then I would consider going elsewhere if I were you.


Carolyn Marie

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  • 6 months later...
Guest Chrissy6455

I did alot of research in finding my GT tbh, I think I found a good one. GT is all she does, and she was even on Dr Phil a few times supposidly so we will see ....

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  • 4 years later...

Some very good info in this thread!

I hope to add to it soon.  My situation is not 100% unique, but it is a little rare.  I am an American, living in Germany.  My German-language speaking/understanding is nowhere near 100%.  I can carry on a conversation, but there are often awkward misunderstandings and difficulties.  Not something I would want to work through in something as delicate and nuanced as my personal feelings on my Gender Dysphoria :)

So, I NEED a therapist that speaks English, but is available to me in my area of Germany.  There are several in the larger cities...  Berlin especially, Frankfurt, Munich, even Hamburg.  The closest of those places is three hours away.  I work full-time, so that would be very problematic.

It seems online therapy may be the ONLY way for me.  Thanks to Jani, I have found a couple of possible choices.  I have my first appointment next week.  I've e-mailed her a few times, to express my concerns, and state what I am looking for in therapy.  She is NOT particularly experienced in TG issues, but is well-trained and experienced overall, and is willing to help.  I've checked her qualifications and reputation, and she seems 100% legit.

For obvious reasons, I am a little paranoid.  I don't want to go to a therapist and have them try to "cure" my GD, or negate my feelings, I want them to help me treat it.  If I get that feeling (that she is not pointing me in the direction I want to go), I'll seek another therapist.  I'm purposefully NOT mentioning names.  When I have some actual EXPERIENCE with her, I'll relay them on this forum.

Even though I've not actually "spoken" to her yet, there is already a cautious sense of relief...  I'm taking the plunge.  I've made my decision.   It's "cautious", because I'm still apprehensive.  I don't want this initial meeting to go badly.  I've never said ANY of these things that I am about to say to ANYONE.  I don't know what her reaction will be.  I don't want to screw it up!



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  • 7 months later...

I had to add something here. I'd been seeing a therapist for several years but knew she was not be the one I wanted to explore gender issues with. I just had this feeling that I couldn't be open and honest with her with such delicate personal info. So I found someone new who turned out to be excellent. A warm, non-judgemental clinician who played an active role in our sessions and steered me along. THEN I began wondering if I should seek out a gender therapist, but realized I didn't want to go through the whole process again with someone new. It was too hard the first time. And my current therapist can give me a referral for HRT if/when I need it anyway. I've been fortunate.

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  • 1 month later...
  • Admin
2 hours ago, Jennifer W said:

How many sessions are usually needed for an hrt referral?


Jennifer, I know this is a cliche', but it depends on the therapist.  Some will provide a letter in 1-2 sessions, some more.  HRT for many physicians is now a matter of "informed consent" and won't ask for a letter at all.  Many therapists have doctors that they work with regularly.  You can ask your therapist what they need for HRT and they should be able to tell you.


Carolyn Marie

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  • Admin

In the 9 years since this thread was first pinned up here, the "gate keeping" function of therapists has seen significant change for the better.  Even in this short a time, people coming to the Gender Therapists whom I know in person, come with more information about themselves, and less fear of what is going on in their personal lives, also a better understanding of what life will be like if, when, and what they will do.  Some therapists I know have even seen a need for "Post Surgical Depression" therapy, since there has been some growth in that condition, which in some cases is just a "garden variety" of stress related depression from issues that existed before the GD Monster attacked the person and took their mind off of those stressors for a period.  A year ago at this time, I was personally experiencing that type of depression and my HMO was able to find a Therapist for me that knew of my general problem area, and who accepted me as I was and did not need to re-explore my Gender issues.  That to me is some wonderful progress.,

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  • 1 year later...

It really depends on a lot of circumstances how long you have to see a therapist prior to getting HRT.  I started with estrogen about a month prior to seeing a therapist, but I am a medical professional.  I discussed it with my internist, and we came to the conclusion to go ahead with it.  It was way harder to find an endocrinologist who knew what to do with transgender people.  Most of them can deal with diabetes and similar conditions, but have no clue what is required for a trans person.  For the time being, I was basically self prescribing, by telling my internist what I need for my transition.

I am now a patient of a specialist for transgender issues, and found out that i was exactly correct with my dosing!


But psychologists knowing about transgender stuff are as hard to find.  I was first with one who knew less than I did about trans things.


I got my knowledge by reading through forums like this and through literature (I am pretty good with surgery stuff, but not with trans things), and one should expect that those, who claim to be specialist in all trans related subjects, would do the same due diligence I did, and educate themselves on the subject!.

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