Using Emotion to Foster Acceptance: A Treatment Approach for Family Therapists Working with Transgender Adolescents and Their Families

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone Project

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Shelly Smith-Acuna

Second Advisor

Janet Shriberg

Third Advisor

Rachael St. Claire


Case study, Family therapy, Transgender, Adolescents, Family therapy treatment


Currently, there is limited research and clinical focus on family therapy with transgender adolescents. When an adolescent discloses his/her transgender identity to his/her family, the family can experience an array of emotions, such as fear, distrust, anger, and sadness, along with confusion and invalidating behavior that can threaten secure attachment among family members. The purpose of this paper is to present a family therapy treatment approach for therapists working with transgender adolescents that is both culturally sensitive to the needs of these families as well as based on a systemic family therapy model. Emotionally Focused Family Therapy (EFFT) is a systemic model that is grounded in attachment theory and focuses on using emotion as a key tool in restructuring problematic relational patterns and fostering more secure family bonds. Through the use of a hypothetical case study, this paper aims at illustrating how EFFT can help family members process feelings related to the transgender identity of an adolescent family member and restore their attachment in a manner that strengthens family relationships and bonds.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


43 pages

This document is currently not available here.