The gender-affirmative life span approach: A developmental model for clinical work with transgender and gender-diverse children, adolescents, and adults.

Katherine G. Spencer, Dianne R. Berg, Nova Bradford, Jennifer A Vencill, Ghazel Tellawi, G. Nic Rider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The gender-affirmative life span approach (GALA) is an innovative therapeutic framework for promoting the mental health of transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) clients of all ages. Based in interdisciplinary philosophical foundations, GALA proposes that TGD clients can be supported in psychotherapy through (a) developing gender literacy, (b) building resiliency, (c) moving beyond the binary, (d) exploring pleasure-oriented sexuality, and (e) making connections to medical interventions. Psychotherapy incorporating these 5 core components is developmentally tailored for children, adolescents, young adults, or older adults. Developing gender literacy is the process of understanding how sex assigned at birth, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation are distinct but interconnected concepts, as well as learning to identify oppressive practices in TGD people's lives. Building resiliency involves learning how to overcome adversity and effectively cope with challenging situations in life. Resiliency-building also involves having social support networks to share these difficulties and gain support. Gender and sexual binaries pathologize nonconformity and limit the full range of healthy gender and sexual expression. Moving beyond the binary to a spectrum approach allows for the inclusion and affirmation of all gender identities and expressions. Unfortunately, research and practice have largely focused on negative sexual outcomes for TGD people. Thus, age-appropriate psychotherapy aimed at developing sex-positive pleasure and satisfaction is critical. Lastly, gender-competent mental health practitioners need to have knowledge about, and skills to refer for, medical interventions, when appropriate. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-49
Number of pages13
JournalPsychotherapy
Volume58
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Psychological Association

Keywords

  • affirmative psychotherapy
  • gender development
  • psychotherapy model
  • trans-affirmative
  • transgender health

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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