Do Psychologists who Help Transgender People Need Special Qualifications?

As transgender rights and issues become more widely understood and accepted across the country, many wonder if the psychologists who help transgender people require special training or certification before they can properly understand these issues and help transgender people through them. Though it might seem that this unique issue does merit extra education, there currently is no separate educational requirement for psychologists who work with members of the growing transgender community. That’s not necessarily a problem, since many existing psychological concepts can be used in these settings as well.

For psychologists who do wish to further their understanding, however, certifications and new degree programs will certainly help them gain a better understanding this unique set of issues.

Certifications and New Degrees: Options for Psychologists

One of the great things about psychology is that it continues to grow by leaps and bounds in terms of understanding of human behavior and current issues. That’s certainly true with the issues faced by today’s transgender community, where researchers have been intensely focused over the past several decades. In recent years, the body of research compiled on transgender issues has been turned into a wide variety of educational opportunities for new and existing psychologists. One of the best options for practicing psychologists is a post-graduate certification in this area. Many of the best and biggest psychology schools offer certifications in transgender issues, LGBT issues, and in treatment of groups that face high levels of bias and discrimination.

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Some universities have actually been hard at work on academic concentrations within their psychology degree programs that discuss transgender issues. These concentrations often combine transgender issues with the broader LGBT community’s unique psychological needs, preparing graduates to handle any number of serious psychological problems that might arise from members of these crucial minority groups. This is a great way to combine broad psychological knowledge with an understanding of bias and discrimination issues facing this emerging group nationwide.

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No Qualifications Required: Broad Psychological Principles Work, Too

While it might be a good idea for psychologists to educate themselves in transgender issues, this is not the only way to help members of this community through their various personal problems. In fact, psychologists working with the transgender community can apply broad psychological principles and theories to help and treat these individuals just like a member of any other minority group. Psychological disorders and problems affect all people equally and in much the same way, and this creates a real area of opportunity for psychologists who are willing to apply tested principles, learn a bit about their transgender clients, and work alongside them to secure a better future.

Best Practices: Keep an “Open Door” Policy for All Patients

Finally, it’s important for all psychologists to remember the importance of an open-door policy that welcomes patients of all kinds. The hard work of psychology depends on an open mind that can listen to clients from all backgrounds, diagnose and discuss issues that may be affecting each client, and learn from their background while helping them through various challenges in their lives. Transgender people, as psychologists should be aware, are merely patients like all of their other patients. With an open mind and the willingness to see patients from all backgrounds, psychologists who help transgender people will broaden their horizons and learn new ways to work within today’s LGBT community