Gender Sensitivity

Berlin and especially Neukölln are places of diverse identity-related characteristics. This pluralism offers opportunities for encounter, development, and challenges. Questions of identity often play a significant role in psychotherapy and counseling, particularly in this location and at this time. Identity characteristics can profoundly influence how we perceive ourselves and others, as well as how we are seen and treated in the world. I strive to integrate the often complex influences of such characteristics into therapeutic work to understand and validate individual experiences. Current studies and contemporary discourses demonstrate the positive therapeutic effects that can arise from gender sensitivity. Therapeutic institutions and literature now explicitly advocate for proactively addressing and integrating sexual identity into treatment.

My Position

Here, I aim to provide a condensed view of what gender-sensitive psychotherapy could entail.

I continuously strive to further my education and engage with current discourses to critically reflect on and enhance my work. I benefit from exchanging ideas with my private and professional community, including a gender-sensitive counseling and therapy working group which I founded and lead since 2023 (www.agbt.work).

While I understand the reasons for private or political interest in disclosing my sexual identity, I choose to provide such information only in my private life and on a voluntary basis.

How do I understand gender? Who is gender-sensitive psychotherapy intended for, and who can benefit from it?

I view gender and sexuality as a spectrum of many "normal" variations and advocate for their equal recognition and appreciation. I support the concept of "doing gender" and see gender as socially constructed, performative, multifactorial, and fluid. I believe that only the individuals themselves can provide information about their sexual identity and that it cannot and should not be determined externally. I question the "gendering" of bodily characteristics, emotions, and behaviors. As they represent a limitation of natural ways of expression and processing, I consider them unethical and potentially harmful.

Who is gender-sensitive psychotherapy intended for, and who can benefit from it?

Marginalized individuals (or groups) such as LGBTQIA* are particularly vulnerable in terms of mental health, and from my perspective, gender-sensitive therapy is essential for them. However, I am convinced that even individuals with traditional/normative sexual identities can benefit from the diversity of perspectives available in today's discourse.

Example scenarios or topics

General

  • Struggling with self-identification and positioning oneself
  • Having difficulties with how one´s sexual identity is (in)accurately perceived by others (e.g. stereotypes) 
    • For example, feeling shame for privileges as a man/male-passing individual; reluctance to be associated with threats
    • For example, being sexualized or pushed into submissive roles as a woman/female-passing individual
  • Processing biographical shame, grief, fear, and anger related to sexual identity
  • Processing experiences of discrimination, gender-specific traumas, and experiences of violence

Cis-/Heterosexual individuals with non-conforming gender expression

  • Identifying as a gentle/emotional man or as a lustful/strong woman
  • as a woman: choosing not to have children or to live non-monogamously
  • as a woman: experiencing intimidation, disadvantage, or (sexualized) violence
  • as a man; suppress experiencing fear or tears, not being allowed to ask for help
  • as a man; having to appear strong and assertive or provide orgasms

LSBTQIA*/GSM (gender and sexual minorities)

  • Exploring one's own sexual identity and preferences
  • Reflecting on inviting-in/coming-out within the family or workplace
  • Experimenting with "gender-specific new" experiences and behaviors (e.g., a man trying makeup for the first time, a trans* person dating for the first time)
  • Supporting transition processes (including hormone therapy, gender affirmative surgery), possibly indication letters
  • Improving body image/experience
  • Learning self-care, emotion regulation strategies, and promoting self-worth