The first thing I did when my son came out to me as transgender was to Google Trans Affirming Psychologist near me. I was raised in an era where being gender diverse was considered a mental illness, so I automatically focused on that outdated belief. I quickly learned that not all councillors are created equal, and not everything can be “fixed” by a psychologist.

Your child may not need a psychologist

Sometimes, a transgender child does not need to see a psychologist. It is crucial to assess the child’s individual needs. Hard truth warning: If you hope that putting your child in therapy will remove the idea of gender diversity or help determine if your child is “really trans,” you are acting out of fear of what others will think and not out of the best interest of your child.

If a transgender child is generally doing well, can cope with the challenges they may face, and has a supportive network of family and friends, they may not need to see a psychologist. Remember, being gender diverse is not a mental illness in and of itself. However, you want to be attuned to your child’s needs and seek professional support if your child struggles with discrimination or social expectations.

Reasons your child would need a psychologist

A psychologist can help your trans child process their feelings about their gender identity and provide support as they navigate the challenges and changes that may come with transitioning. The reality is that trans children may face stigma and other stressors that can lead to mental health concerns such as anxiety or depression. A psychologist can help to address these concerns and provide support to improve overall mental health and well-being.

Therapy and counselling can also help navigate social and emotional issues that may arise as they transition, such as concerns about friendships, relationships, and self-esteem. It can also improve skills like communication and mindfullness.

How to determine if a therapist is affirming of gender diversity

Look for psychologists, social workers, or clinical councillors affiliated with professional organizations that support and advocate for the rights of transgender individuals, such as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) or the American Psychological Association (APA). Choose someone with knowledge and training in working with transgender individuals and who is committed to staying up-to-date on best practices and current research in this area. I would ask them outright how many trans youths they’ve worked with in the past five years.

Ensure that the psychologist respects your child’s gender identity and uses the pronouns and name your child has shared. While we as parents might struggle and mess up, the mental health professional cannot be allowed to misgender or deadname. They must be sensitive to the unique challenges that transgender children face and be committed to supporting your child’s well-being.

Questions to ask the reception

Here are some questions you may want to ask a psychologist’s receptionist before booking an appointment:

  • What are the psychologist’s qualifications and areas of expertise?
  • Does the psychologist have experience working with transgender children and adolescents?
  • Does the psychologist use evidence-based practices in their work?
  • What is the psychologist’s approach to treatment?
  • Are there any insurance plans that the psychologist accepts?
  • Is the psychologist available for phone or video appointments?
  • Is there a waiting list for appointments, and how long is the wait?

Overall, having your child do well in therapy will give you a sense of relief that your child is making progress and that their treatment is helping to address their needs and challenges. You might also get a sense of hope for the future and feel more optimistic about their prospects. Finding the right psychologist is worth the effort once you see your child thrive.

Download the ebook Defining Transgender here to stay in touch through my newsletter and don’t forget to grab your copy of Beyond Pronouns: The Essential Guide for Parents of Trans Children.