Cape Town – In an effort to ensure that gender-diverse clients receive the best care from psychologists, the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA) will launch the first-ever South African practice guidelines for psychology professionals working with sexually and gender-diverse people in Cape Town.
The organisation will launch the guidelines in Cape Town next week following a successful national launch.
Co-author of the guidelines and research professor at Unisa Juan Nel said: “The guidelines provide an accessible tool for those in the helping professions to equip themselves and grow their confidence in working with sexual and gender diversity in an affirmative and relevant way.
“People had to rely on international guidelines. With this African first, we hope that the utility of it in terms of working with gender-diverse people will be enhanced. Historically, psychology was part of the problem and not the solution, and we want to change that.”
Nel said the guidelines offered a blueprint for mental health service providers to respond to the well-being and human rights of all sexually and gender-diverse people.
“We see the importance of the space that needs to be created in the psychotherapeutic environment.
“Within PsySSA there was overwhelming support for the development, and we are proud of it. We found that other healthcare providers have also welcomed it. We have done training for social workers and plan to do more.”
Dr Peace Kiguwa, chairperson of the sexuality and gender division of PsySSA, said: “Psychologists play a powerful role in a society such as ours which is characterised by histories of oppression and inequality, including against people who are sexually and gender diverse.
“It behoves psychologists to expand their own knowledge and practice in ways that support and affirm the needs and experiences of sexual and gender-diverse persons. The guidelines provide a tool for just that”.
Triangle Project health and support services manager Sharon Cox said: “We know over many years that damage has been done by this field in the treatment of LGBTI people, because of prejudice The guidelines can change that.”