I am a retired therapist based in Portland, Oregon. During the course of my career, I worked with over 450 people asking, “How do I want to live my life?” in the context of gender identity. I received my M.A. in Counseling Psychology (specialization Transpersonal Psychology) from John F. Kennedy University’s Graduate School for Holistic Studies in 2001. My thesis topic, which I already had in mind prior to beginning my course of study, was Gender Dissonance: A New Paradigm, in which I presented a new way of conceptualizing therapy with transgendered clients, using a model of identity emergence rather than a medical model of psychological pathology. I utilized this model in my work with trans clients. I retired as a therapist in 2012, focusing now on writing, trainings and consultation around issues pertaining to transition and trans identity.
I am a member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (formerly Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, or HBIGDA), and the International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE).
I believe the therapist’s job is to facilitate a process of self-knowledge, as clients figure out who they are and who they want to become during the course of their life transformative process. The therapist is a witness to process, and an occasional guide along the way. It is the therapist’s job to help clients along their path, without determining for them what direction the journey may take. The question clients are trying to answer is, “How do I want to live my life?”
When a client’s path includes transition from one gender role/bodily sex to another, the therapist may also offer occasional observations from having witnessed other transition processes. While a therapist may make occasional observations to clients, there isn’t a “one size fits all” transition path, no right or wrong way to actualize core identity. Thus, if a client says something completely different from anything the therapist has experienced or heard before, the appropriate reaction isn’t to judge them wrong, but to thank them shedding new light on the process.
In working with all my clients, I followed these guidelines:
- Only my clients know who they are
- Only my clients can answer the question, “How do I want to live my life?
- Only my clients are qualified to decide what path is right for them, and how quickly or slowly they move along their path. I provide guidance in making decisions, answer questions as best I can, and help clients learn to trust their own intuition and self-knowledge.
My therapeutic approach is holistic in nature. Many people are familiar with the concept of holistic therapy within the context of non-western medical approaches such as acupuncture. What does ‘holistic psychotherapy’ mean? For more information, read About Holistic Psychotherapy.
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