Religion and spirituality offer positive coping methods and protective factors for managing adversity and a framework to create meaning and purpose in life. Trans and gender diverse people are known to use spiritual and religious coping to maintain and regain psychological functioning. Religion and spirituality may also have negative impact on trans and gender diverse people.
This lecture provides information for clinicians to incorporate a client’s positive religious coping in a way that supports psychological health and empowerment. The lecture starts with an overview of religion and spirituality and the role they play in individual’s lives. The lecture identifies helpful and problematic religious coping and significance when working with trans and gender diverse clients.
Primary areas covered include a review of the general effects of religion and spirituality on resilience with a deeper explanation of how positive religious coping methods act as protective factors against the impact of adversity. The lecture outlines how religious and spiritual beliefs may affect gender identity development through internalization of negative self-image and bias. The lecture discusses common responses to religious and spiritual discrimination and transphobia that clinicians may witness in trans and gender diverse clients they serve and the impact on hopelessness and self-agency.
The lecture concludes with recommendations and cautions for the mental health professional wishing to integrate a client’s religious and spiritual beliefs and practices into therapy as a resource for growth. Relevant references, educational, and community resources are provided.
Ruben (he/him) is a licensed health services psychologist with over 15 years’ experience working with and for the trans and gender diverse communities in clinical work and through professional education and training of medical and mental health professionals. He is the Founder and Director of the Cambridge, Massachusetts firm, Hopwood Counseling & Consulting, LLC, a Nationally Certified LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE), as well as a Visiting Researcher at The Danielsen Institute at Boston University. He is the former manager of the Fenway Health Trans Health Program (2007-2019) in Boston, MA. Dr. Hopwood is a nationally known speaker, consultant, and a published author of many peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters on mental health and medical care of gender diverse people, aging and gender diversity, and on spirituality integrative psychotherapy (ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0050-4279). He has identified as part of the LGBTQ+ communities for more than 40 years. He holds a doctorate in counseling psychology, a Master of Divinity in Christian theology, and a certificate in spiritual direction and companioning. Dr. Hopwood has been a WPATH member since 2006, a Global Education Initiative Mentor and a Certified Member. He can be reached at info@RubenHopwood.com
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