By Megan Smith
Dr. Colt Keo-Meier, Houston-based psychologist and out transgender man, will launch Reclaiming Our Worth, the first-ever formal transgender therapy group focusing on processing experiences of trauma and discrimination, at his private practice in October.
Numerous peer-support groups exist for transgender people, Keo-Meier explains, but are facilitated by “wonderful, everyday people giving their hearts out to the community,” rather than licensed therapists. “These groups are really great and needed, but there hasn’t really been a focused therapy group where the same members come every week for a period of time,” he says.
Reclaiming Our Worth will be a 10-session group co-facilitated by Keo-Meier and Dr. Jana Tran, a cisgender ally and psychologist trained in trauma. “This will be a unique group, because it will have one therapist who is transgender and one who is trained in trauma,” Keo-Meier says.
Keo-Meier and Tran previously worked together on a successful group for LGBT veterans, which sparked the idea for the new transgender group. “We realized that we have something really important that we can give to people, so we needed to figure out a way to do that for trans people in the community,” Keo-Meier says. The pair then spent the next year and a half planning the Reclaiming Our Worth group.
Unlike individualized therapy, group therapy reduces isolation, normalizes experiences, and allows group members to benefit by working through personal issues in a supportive, confidential atmosphere while helping others to work through their own challenges. Ideal candidates for Reclaiming Our Worth are transgender and non-binary adults, “who are really ready to address some challenges in their lives in a setting where everyone understands what you’re going through as a transgender person, and who are also ready to listen to others and to gain deeper connections with others,” Keo-Meier says. “No one is going to have to explain their identity or fight to be who they are [in this setting]. We can just get into the real work.”
Issues discussed in the group will depend on the unique challenges faced by each of the group’s members, Keo-Meier explains, and notes that not all issues will directly relate to gender identity. “Our population is really, really at risk of hating themselves,” he says. “We didn’t come into this world not liking ourselves—we learned that. So we’re going to talk about that and do some interpersonal education, mental-health work, and learn coping skills.”
Keo-Meier and Tran will be offering this group one-time only. While this may be the end-point in some group members’ therapy journey, others may seek continued support. According to Keo-Meier, the Montrose Center is currently developing an ongoing group with a similar structure to Reclaiming Our Worth that may be beneficial to those wanting to further their therapy.
“So many trans people work so hard to take care of other people—this will be a chance for them to take care of themselves,” Keo-Meier says. “And it is so needed. It’s revolutionary to take care of yourself as a trans person when the world says, ‘Oh, we don’t care about you, so why should you care about yourself?’ This group is empowering, and we’re pushing back against a bunch of negative messages, and we’re doing it all together.”
Reclaiming Our Worth will be offered from October to December 2015 on Thursday evenings from 6 until 7:30 p.m. There are 10 spots available in the group. If interested, visit coltmeier.com/contact to sign up for a 10-to-15-minute phone screening to see if the group is a good fit. Group cost is $70 per session. Therapists do not take insurance, although clients can file independently with their own insurance. Limited sliding scale opportunities are available.