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10.30 AM - 12.00 PM 

When The Vulnerable Child is a Different Gender

by Xi Liu, and Ben Callegari


Transgender and gender nonconfirming (TGNC) individuals have a great need for affirmation of their gender identity from their family and peer groups, particular during early childhood where gender dysphoria is often first experienced. However, due to the significant level of societal stigma and and discrimination, a large proportion of TGNC experience verbal and physical violence by their family and peers due to their gender expression. Given this, it is expected that early maladaptive schemas are highly prevalent in this group, particularly in the disconnection/rejection domain. Limited Reparenting with this population must include affirmation of the client’s gender identity (which is incongruent with their sex assigned at birth) in order to provide a corrective emotional experience.

When engaging in any mode level interventions, the Child modes can be triggering for some TGNC clients as it is often expressed as the sex assigned at birth, rather than the gender identity of the client. Also, special care must be taken to identify unmet needs due to rejection, discrimination and abuse due to the client’s gender identity. Two case presentations with TGNC individuals will be used to explore some of the ways Schema Therapy can be respectfully adapted and how a strong therapeutic alliance can be formed.

Expected Points of Discussion:
1 How to use Imagery Rescripting respectfully with transgender and gender nonconfirming (TGNC) individuals
2  Mode work with TGNC individuals
3  Managing complex trauma with TGNC individuals
Understanding societal discrimination and family origins of early maladaptive schemas

Discussant 1

Name: Dr. Xi Liu

Discussant 2

Name: Ben Callegari

About the Presenters:

Xi Liu

Dr. Xi Liu is an advanced accredited ISST schema therapist and trainer/supervisor. She is a Sydney based Clinical Psychologist who delivers face to face therapy from her practice in Newtown, as well as working online with clients across five continents. She regularly provides therapy to staff deployed with Doctors without Borders (MSF) while on mission and around the world. She is the Chair of the Online Schema Therapy Special Interest Group and have presented at symposiums at the International Society for Schema Therapy Conference in Amsterdam and Rome on adapting Schema Therapy for Online Treatment. She has also presented on the topic of Digital Technologies in Mental Health at the Black Dog Institute in Australia. Xi specializes with creative, multicultural and LGBTQ clients on complex trauma, grief, personality disorders and Axis I mood disorders. In her previous working life, Xi has also worked in User Interface, Data Management and Website Design in the Corporate and Not for Profit Sector. 

Ben Callegari

Ben Callegari is a Clinical Psychologist based in Melbourne. He trained in Sydney, completing his post-graduate qualifications at the University of NSW. Ben started his career working primarily with adults suffering Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and complex PTSD. He continues to work in his private practice in Melbourne working extensively with clients presenting with complex comorbidities. He has received training in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR). He is also an accredited Schema Therapist with the International Society for Schema Therapy (ISST). Ben has a special interest in working with the LGBTIQ community, having actively worked with this group since moving to Melbourne in 2009. Ben was a contributing author of an Australian first online training program called “Mental Health Care for Trans, Gender Diverse, and Non-Binary People” developed in collaboration with the University of Melbourne. as well as clinical and consumer experts. Ben is a member of the Australian Professional Association for Transgender Health (AusPATH) and is one of the few Clinical Psychologists in Melbourne who assists transgender people to access medical interventions for physical gender transition. Ben has worked with hundreds of transgender clients over the past decade and is an active member of the transgender healthcare community in Melbourne. In addition to such services, Ben also specializes in applying and adapting evidence-based treatments for the LGBTIQ community, taking into consideration the specific needs of this client group.

Why Schema Therapy?

Schema therapy has been extensively researched to effectively treat a wide variety of typically treatment resistant conditions, including Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Read our summary of the latest research comparing the dramatic results of schema therapy compared to other standard models of psychotherapy.

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