A gender therapist helps individuals and families deal with gender-related issues, including gender changes. Becoming a gender therapist requires you to spend a considerable amount of time in school. You will usually have to spend four years earning a bachelor's degree and learning some basics about mental health and sexuality before you go on to earn a master's or doctoral degree in preparation for this career. In many cases, the level of responsibility you will have is related to the level of education you complete. You may also need additional training to prepare, and many jurisdictions will require you to take licensing or certification exams to become a gender therapist.
The first step you'll likely take to become a gender therapist will be enrolling in college. Typically, this career requires an advanced degree, and earning a bachelor's degree is a necessary stepping stone toward the credential you need. Majors in science, health, or mental health may provide particularly good preparation for this career. No matter which major you choose, however, you may benefit from taking undergraduate courses in such subjects as human sexuality, gender issues, and reproduction — relationship- and counseling-related courses may also help prepare you. It is possible to gain admission to a graduate-level program without taking such courses, but they can provide knowledge you can build on later and might make you a more attractive graduate school candidate.
Most graduate schools will not have a course of study or a degree specifically for gender matters. Instead, you will usually need to earn a graduate degree in a mental health field and then take elective courses that help prepare you to become a gender therapist. A master's degree is often the minimum you will need to pursue this type of career, but a doctoral degree will likely improve your job prospects and allow you to take on positions of greater responsibility. For example, you may need a doctoral degree to become a licensed psychologist in most jurisdictions.
If you want to offer gender therapy as a psychiatrist, you will still need an advanced degree but will typically attend a different type of institution to earn it. In most places, becoming a psychiatrist means enrolling in medical school and studying for four years. This course of study will usually include not only traditional classes, but also an internship in which you'll have the opportunity to interact with patient's as you learn. Upon successful completion of this type of program, you will earn the medical degree necessary for becoming a psychiatrist.
In most cases, you will also need specialized training to become a gender therapist. Before you can become a licensed or certified therapist, for example, you will often need to complete clinical training under the supervision of a licensed professional and pass a licensing or certification exam. To practice as a psychiatrist, you will usually have to complete a residency program and then take and pass your jurisdiction's physician licensing exam. You can also seek additional training, such as through seminars, continuing-education classes, and self-study to prepare for a gender therapy career.