Narratives of Mental Health Professionals Supporting Trans, Gender Diverse and Gender Questioning Adults
Trans, gender diverse and gender questioning people appear at a high risk of suffering from mental health difficulties, but often describe having negative experiences accessing both physical and mental healthcare in the UK. At the same time, health professionals have described feeling deskilled, and lacking confidence in their ability to support gender diverse people. There has been limited research exploring the experiences of mental health professionals who provide care for gender diverse people in mainstream mental health services, and even less in the UK. In this study, 7 mental health professionals from a range of disciplines took part in semi-structured narrative interviews via Skype, telephone, or in person. Accounts were analysed using Constructionist Narrative Analysis, to better understand the types of stories told, the positions taken by the participants, and the local, social and historical contexts of the narratives’ construction. The clinicians’ narratives were infused with wider societal narratives, which were drawn on and resisted in their stories. These included narratives of feeling deskilled, standing up to higher powers, separating different parts of a person, risk from men, and transwomen as dangerous. Implications for clinical practice have been suggested, such as providing open and non-judgmental space for discussion when training mental health professionals in gender diversity, and holding in mind the influence of powerful narratives when designing policies and making decisions about mental healthcare for gender diverse individuals.
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