Australian mental health professionals’ competencies for working with trans clients: a comparative study

Damien Riggs, Clare Bartholomaeus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Growing numbers of trans people require access to mental health services; however, previous research suggests that many trans clients have negative experiences with mental health professionals. This paper reports on an Australian survey of 304 counsellors, mental health nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers with regard to their clinical knowledge, comfort and confidence in working with trans clients. The findings suggest that training and previous experience in working with trans clients are related to increased levels of accurate clinical knowledge and confidence; that psychiatrists had the lowest levels of accurate knowledge; that female participants had higher levels of accurate knowledge than did male participants; that counsellors had the highest levels of confidence and that there was a negative relationship between religiosity and comfort in working with trans clients. The paper concludes by advocating for the development of more nuanced measures to assess the attitudes and skillsets of mental health professionals in regards to working with trans clients and the need for further upskilling of the Australian mental health workforce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-238
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology and Sexuality
Issue number3
Early online date2016
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2016


  • competencies
  • knowledge
  • mental health professionals
  • training
  • transgender


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