E&S: New Gender Team

E&S_7-9-14_webServices Expand to Support Trans Clients.

For staff at agencies like the Alliance Health Project, a commitment to serve the evolving needs of clients extends way beyond getting a license to practice therapy or nursing or psychiatry. It is a process of continual learning. Over the past year, a dedicated group of AHP staff have met monthly to enhance their awareness, knowledge, and skills regarding transgender mental health care. The “Gender Team” has increased AHP’s capacity to ensure transgender-affirming care beyond its original emphasis on HIV-related concerns.

“Excellent care requires a mix of curiosity and knowledge, commitment and capacity,” according to Gender Team co-leader Dan Karasic, MD, an internationally recognized expert in the field of transgender health. The team provides an array of services including individual therapy, substance use counseling, and psychiatry services. Co-leader Michelanne Baker, PsyD added, “This multidisciplinary approach, supported by cultural humility ensures the best possible care for our trans clients.”
One example of the team’s accomplishments has been the introduction of mental health support for trans clients considering gender-affirming surgery, which for some transgender people is a crucial part of their transition process. This service is particularly important in light of the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s pioneering Transgender Health Program, the first in the nation to provide transition-related surgeries to low-income uninsured and Medi-Cal recipients. Transition-related surgery requires two independent gender evaluations by trained mental health providers. To better serve community needs, AHP streamlined this assessment process as part of its effort to facilitate the emotional, physical, and practical preparation for surgery. AHP’s collaboration with trans clients seeks to achieve the best possible physical and psychological outcomes after surgery.
In addition to surgery-related assessment and psychoeducation, AHP staff provides supportive individual psychotherapy to clients exploring gender identity concerns, coming out to family and friends, and coping with gender-related discrimination as well as other transition-related issues. AHP also has a professionally-led Trans Support Group for those clients who are looking for ongoing peer support. And AHP strives to create a trans-affirmative environment for trans clients who seek emotional health and wellness services unrelated to gender concerns.
For more information about any of these services, please call 415-476-3902. Or drop by the clinic on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday between 9:00-11:00 to start the process of receiving one of our services.

This article is taken from AHP’s quarterly newsletter, Events & Services. Read more here:Events & Services, July–September, 2014