Psychotherapeutic Work with Trans*People

Experience, Support, Hope

Author: Mari Günther


In this article I would like to share my experiences as a therapist and counselor working primarily with people who are uncertain concerning their gender identity. It is im- portant to me to suggest possibilities for therapeutic work with trans* people and dealing respectfully with questions regarding gender identity, and also as to how one can develop and realise a supportive position in relation to trans* people.

I have gathered experience on this topic in many different contexts. Together with a colleague, I have moderated a self-help group for trans* people and their families for over six years; parallel to this involvement, I have built up a social service project in Berlin through which trans* and queer children, youth, and adults receive long-term psycho-social support. Frequently these clients are trying to access sex-confirmation surgeries or treatments, reintegrate into school, training programs, and careers, or reintegrate socially after a period in a psychiatric treatment facility. Currently around 20 colleagues engaged in this project provide support for about 70 people and families. Within this framework, I conducted 300 to 350 counseling sessions per year with trans* people and their relatives, and, as part of my current position as manager of a counseling center for inter* and trans* people, am able to continue providing this service. I engage in intensive therapeutic work, both within in this context, as well as in my own practice.

On another level of engagement, chiefly through my co-founding of a round table, participation in an interdisciplinary quality management circle, collaborative work on various advisory boards, and conducting training programs, I have contact with many people who are concerned with the topic of trans* without being personally involved. On the one hand, I learn of many biographies, characterized by both desperation and success, and on the other hand experience both much skepticism and much understanding. Often I see it as my role to mediate in both directions. It has been significant for me to experience how difficult it is for non-trans* people to become conscious of the powerful, privileged vantage point from which they are making their observations, and that trans* people in turn underestimate the dynamics of a self-definition as “outsider” or “victim”. A queer position helps me ascertain the meanings of categories and boundaries and not lose sight of power politics. This also holds true for therapeutic work.

Keywords: Trans* identity, psychotherapy, counseling, therapeutic relationship, transition


Günther, M. (2015). Psychotherapeutische und beratende Arbeit mit Trans*Menschen – Erfahrung, Haltung, Hoffnung [Psychotherapeutic Work with Trans*People: Experience, Support, Hope]. Verhaltenstherapie & psychosoziale Praxis, 47, 113-124. doi: [Download]

Last updated: 08/09/2020 - 16:43

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