Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




Brown, Jason


This qualitative research study investigated how psychotherapists understand trans-affirmative psychotherapies and apply them to transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) populations in their practice. Additionally, this study aimed to gain a better understanding of how psychotherapists who work with these populations work with microaggressions should they occur in session with a TGNC client. Five Canadian psychotherapists were interviewed in-depth about their experiences and a qualitative content analysis revealed 5 themes: (1) the person-centered nature of trans-affirmative psychotherapy, (2) accessing the ability to repair the therapeutic relationship post-microaggression, (3) the role of shame, (4) the universality of trans-affirmative therapy, and (5) therapist self-education. How trans-affirmative psychotherapy can be understood as a specific therapeutic modality is discussed, along with how therapists can work specifically with microaggressions is discussed. Implications for how graduate schools can best educate training psychotherapists in these areas is discussed.

Summary for Lay Audience

This qualitative study investigated how therapists incorporate trans-affirmative psychotherapy with clients who are transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC). Additionally, this study aimed to understand how therapists work with microaggressions when the occur in therapy with the TGNC population. From interviews with 5 Canadian psychotherapists emerged a variety of themes about both trans-affirmative psychotherapy and the role of microaggressions with this population including: (1) how trans-affirmative psychotherapy is influenced by humanistic psychotherapy, (2) how important it is for therapists to assess their ability to repair a relationship with a client should a microaggression occur in their work together, (3) how understanding shame plays a key role in the delivery of trans-affirmative psychotherapy, (4) how trans-affirmative psychotherapy should be a universal approach used even for clients who are not TGNC, and (5) the role that therapists play in educating themselves in trans-affirmative psychotherapy. How these findings can be incorporated into the understanding of how to work with TGNC clients in psychotherapy is discussed, along with how graduate programs that train psychotherapists can better educate their students to feel more prepared to work with this population.