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Title: An exploration of the experiences of transgender clients in talking therapies
Author: Applegarth, Gemma
Awarding Body: University of Wales
Current Institution: Regent's University London
Date of Award: 2012
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This study is placed within a changing historical, social and clinical context. In recent times the psychological profession has moved towards an affirming and positive understanding of transgender people (Raj, 2002). Theories which argue transgender identities are to be nurtured and valued have emerged (Lev, 2004). The psychological profession has responded with the creation of guidelines which urge practitioners to adopt an affirmative approach to the individual’s experience of gender (British Psychological Society, 2012; World Professional Association for Transgender Health, 2012). Despite an increase in availability of specific training (Pink Therapy, 2012) and a movement towards affirmative therapies the phenomenological experience of transgender people in talking therapies has received little research attention. Bess and Stab (2009) looked at how transsexual clients in therapy interpreted the relationship they had with the practitioner. They found that the participants were enjoying supportive and affirmative relationships with the practitioner, although many reported previous negative therapeutic experiences. However, understanding the experience of transgender clients in therapy from a phenomenological stance has received little academic attention. The present study fills this shortfall and looks at how being in therapy is experienced by transgender people in the UK. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith et al, 2009) revealed four dominant themes of the experiences of six transgender adults who had attended a talking therapy. These are ‘a fearful time’, ‘becoming comfortable with their personal gender’, ‘the importance of the relationship with the practitioner’ and a sense of ‘moving beyond therapy’. Themes are discussed in the light of the literature creating valuable understandings for counselling psychologists and other therapeutic practitioners working with transgender clients. The implications of these findings on psychological theory, therapeutic practice and policy making are discussed and recommendations are made for future research.
Supervisor: Nuttall, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available