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Sexuality and Gender for Mental Health Professionals

Sexuality and Gender for Mental Health Professionals
A Practical Guide

October 2013 | 256 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Questions of sexuality and gender affect everyone and therefore have an inevitable relevance in the consulting room. Yet with interpretations and manifestations of both varying greatly from person to person, understanding the inherent complexities of sexuality and gender can be a daunting task for the health professional. Breaking down these complexities this practical guide familiarises the reader with all of the common and many of the less common sexualities, genders and relationship forms, and explains experiences and issues relating to each. The book contains:


-Explanations of various forms of sexuality, gender and relationship structures

-Common concerns relating to specific groups

-Key practises relating to specific groups

-The treatment of specific groups in contemporary Western society

-Details of some rules and ideals that are commonly found within specific groups

-Suggestions for professional practice with these groups


Ideal for all members of the multidisciplinary team, this accessible book is relevant to practitioners across theoretical backgrounds. Whether you are a trainee or qualified psychotherapist, counsellor, nurse, medic, psychiatrist, social worker or applied psychologist, this is a vital text for your professional practice.

CHRISTINA RICHARDS is Senior Specialist Psychology Associate at the West London Mental Health NHS Trust (Charing Cross) Gender Identity Clinic.

MEG BARKER is a senior lecturer in psychology at the Open University and a sex and relationship therapist.


Transgender (Trans) - Living a different gender from that assigned at birth
Intersex / Diversity of Sexual Development (DSD)
Cisgender - Living in the gender assigned at birth
Further Genders
Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, and Sadomasochism (BDSM) / Kink
Lesbian and Gay sexuality
Further Sexualities

A cogent, carefully crafted and comprehensive introduction to the complexities of genders, sexualities and relationships which challenges our assumptions about normality and difference, refreshingly including heterosexuality, asexuality and BDSM alongside LGB and T*.

Dominic Davies
Founder of Pink Therapy

I would urge any training organisation in counselling and psychotherapy to make this book compulsory reading for all their students and I would extend this invitation to anyone working with sexuality in their clinical practice. This is a timely and much needed exploration of sexuality, gender and relationship and their intersections.

Olivier Cormier-Otaño
Therapy Today

Filling an enormous void in the literature, this book teaches health professionals the essentials of cultural sensitivity when working with issues of sexuality and gender.

Charles Moser, PhD,MD.
Fellow of the European Committee of Sexual Medicine and Professor and Chair of the Department of Sexual Medicine at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality

A lucidly written "one stop shop" counselling primer on transgender, transvestism, intersex, gay and lesbian, bisexuality, asexuality, bondage, adult/baby role play, monogamy yes/no, and even heterosexuality. Although limited to 220 pages, it manages to convey a learned, sensible, empathic, client-oriented perspective for each group.

Richard Green MD JD FRCPsych
Retired Consultant Psychiatrist, Gender Identity Clinic, Charing Cross Hospital, London; Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles

This book gives even-handed, clear-eyed and above all thoroughly practical advice to anyone seeking to better understand these client groups.

Dr James Barrett
Consultant Psychiatrist and Lead Clinician, West London Mental Health NHS Trust

Richards and Barker provide a very readable and practitioner-friendly overview of practices and identities related to gender and sexuality. They also offer a separate section on relationship structures that includes monogamy and non-monogamy. By taking us through the key terms, common practices, major concerns, group norms and situating groups within a wider social context, each chapter offers a wealth of knowledge for the novice psychologist, the seasoned therapist, and the many of us in between. The book not only offers insights, reflection points and guidelines related to working therapeutically with sexual and gender minority clients, but also provides us with the contemporary language of gender and sexuality (and a wholesome glossary, from 24/7 to yiff!).

Rashan das Nair
Co-editor of Intersectionality, sexuality and psychological therapies: Working with lesbian, gay and bisexual diversity (Wiley-Blackwell) & Consultant Clinical Psychologist (Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust)

This book is a courageous attempt at setting out a rational, sane, informative and reflective discourse in the otherwise highly charged and heated debates occupying gender and sexual minority patients, their communities, and the professionals working with them... It is to their credit that the authors have taken a bold step in the literature to update the field and to attempt a normalization of variant genders and sexualities, greying what was previously pathological pink or ragingly red protest.

Previn Karian
Independent psychotherapist and trainer

Christina Richards and Meg Barker's book Sexuality and Gender is more than just an excellent practical guide, it is a social document of its time and as such its appeal will easily extend beyond the target audience of mental health professionals into other disciplines such as Sociology and Cultural studies along with those areas of therapeutic practice that may be resistant to the label of Mental Health Professional. Even if you are unlikely to have an LBGT client I would encourage all therapists or people in helping professions to read this book as it raises so many interesting questions about sexuality, gender and relationship structures in general that makes you realise that nothing can be taken for granted and if nothing else you will be able to re-examine the notion of heterosexuality as a spectrum of possibilities in ways you probably hadn’t thought of yet.

Paul Smith Pickard
The Society for Existential Analysis

The book is written by Christina Richards and Meg Parker, both authors with solid and broad knowledge in the field. The book addresses a variety of professionals who come into contact with issues of sexuality, gender and identity in their practice as therapists, counselors or psychologists. However, they mention strangely not the book as a possible pedagogical element or for educators as a target audience. But it is with these eyes I mainly read it. And I rejoiced many times! The book is really an addition and fills a void in basic knowledge and not at least in the attitude within the profession at large... I came back several times to the realization that the book could (should) be used in so many different ways and at different levels, from elementary education, early psychology programs, to more advanced and applied level, to training for working professionals. One can find different aspects for different purposes, and read the book with new insights, Which is a strength. In short, a book that i will use, as an educator!

Ingela Steij Stålbrand, PhD and senior lecturer in Psychology (sexology and gerontology), Lund University, Sweden
Swedish Association for Sexology

Recommended to our students on the diversity and inclusivity course for its applicability to practice.

Dr Helen Nicholas
Institute of Health & Society, Worcester University
July 29, 2016

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