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Relationships and romance, Sex and gender

Guidelines for Psychologists Working with Gender, Sexuality and Relationship Diversity

These guidelines relate to gender, sexuality and relationship diverse (GSRD) adults and young people (aged 18 years and over).

04 July 2019

BPS Guidance

By BPS Practice Board

These guidelines are currently undergoing a mid-term review.

The guidelines relate to gender, sexuality and relationship diverse (GSRD) adults and young people (aged 18 years and over).

That is, broadly people who do not identify as heterosexual, monogamous or cisgender.

This includes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people as well as people who identify as asexual (do not or rarely experience sexual attraction), are agender (have no gender), have a non-binary gender (have a gender other than male or female), are pansexual (have attraction irrespective of gender), and many other groups.

The guidelines do not, however, relate to anything non-consensual.

The identities and practices considered here are not in themselves pathological, and are part of human diversity.

These guidelines are aimed at applied psychologists working with mental distress, but may also be applied in associated psychological fields.

The principles they are based upon are derived from both the literature and best practice agreement of experts in the field and may also be applied to other disciplines, such as counselling, psychotherapy, psychiatry, medicine, nursing and social work.

Download the guidance

Statement on the assessment by psychologists of transgender or non-binary people seeking medicines or surgeries associated with gender

Psychologists are reminded that they must practice within their competency (HCPC, 2015; BPS 2017, 2018).

In order to protect the public, the BPS makes clear that in order to assess gender dysphoria or incongruence and make referral for hormonal treatments, anti-androgenic treatments, other medicines; or surgeries such as genital surgeries, chest surgeries, facial surgeries, surgeries which remove reproductive capacity, or other surgeries in this field, psychologists must be statutorily regulated by the HCPC and receive specific post-doctoral training.

This training must be significant formal training and supervision from someone with recognised expertise in the field who has considerable experience in making these referrals. At present this would be a consultant psychologist or consultant medical doctor at an NHS Gender Identity Clinic.

This must occur before they are able to make independent assessments and recommendations. Psychologists in this field must also be practising within a highly specialist multidisciplinary team and undertaking ongoing specialist CPD relevant to the field.