A gender therapist counsels patients who have emotional, social, or psychological problems related to gender identity. These therapists frequently work with people who are considering or who are in the process of gender re-identification. Patients may use a gender therapist to talk through issues that are troubling them, to help determine the causes of and the solutions for mental health problems, such as depression, that are related to gender identity, or to get advice about how to talk to friends and loved ones about these issues. If a gender therapist is also a psychiatrist, he or she may also prescribe medications.
One of the main things a gender therapist does is to help a patient work through issues related to gender identity. Patients who identify as a member of the opposite gender commonly experience depression and anxiety. They may feel socially isolated and may have had negative experiences related to their gender identity. This type of therapist will often help a patient learn to manage the emotions in order to relieve stress and improve the patient's mood and outlook on life. If a patient is depressed or has other mental health issues, the therapist may also treat these disorders.
There are a number of levels of education that a therapist may have received. Social workers or people with some level of training in psychology often refer to themselves as therapists when they work as counselors. Psychologists and psychiatrists may also be called therapists. When a psychiatrist works in gender therapy, one part of the job may be prescribing medication to a patient. Common medications prescribed by gender therapists include antidepressants, mood enhancing drugs, and hormonal treatments to help a patient prepare for gender reassignment surgery.
Patients who have decided to pursue gender reassignment must undergo counseling. Before a patient can have such surgery, a gender therapist must diagnose them with gender identity disorder. After receiving this diagnosis, the therapist will discuss options with the patient and help him or her determine, over the course of at least two years, whether gender reassignment surgery is the best choice. One of the roles of this type of therapist working with one of these patients is to formally recommend the procedure on behalf of the patient. If the patient chooses to undergo the surgery, the therapist will continue to counsel the patient throughout the transition from one gender to another.