Counseling Transgender Trauma Survivors

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Despite historical milestones aimed toward increasing societal acceptance of oppressed populations, transgender persons continue to experience high degrees of marginalization in multiple facets of daily living (Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling [ALGBTIC], 2009; Patton & Reicherzer, 2010). The myriad life challenges that this community faces may appear overwhelming for counselors who support the human rights endeavors of gender identity and expression, but are uncertain of how to proceed in counseling practice with transgender persons (Carroll, Gilroy, & Ryan, 2002). In spite of the multiple lived challenges that members of this community may experience, transgender persons have expressed that their greatest desire in seeking counseling is simply to feel listened to and supported. Using a grounded theory design to examine transgender experiences in counseling, Reicherzer (2006) identified that this desire was found to be of greater significance than the counselor’s practice of a particular set of skills, techniques, or active interventions This practice based article will present the cases of “Nicole” and “Maricela” (aliases), who have graciously agreed to have their stories shared for the purpose of informing counseling practice. Two of the authors (Stacee and Jason) will describe their counseling journeys with these women, highlighting important lessons learned in responding to client stories of extreme opprobrium that are associated with social pain and trauma.