Mental Health Track

Thursday September 17,2020

Counseling and Psychotherapy for Transgender Clients: Why? When? How?  According to WPATH

Presenter: Jim Lopresti, PhD, LMHC with Cole Timonere, JD, MS


The World Professional Association for Transgender Health includes sections addressing the role of counselors and psychotherapist in its Standards of Care (7th edition), both in Chapter VII “Mental Health” and in various references in other chapters. In this session we will unpack the language of the Standards of Care and apply WPATH’s guidance to real experiences of clients and their counselors as they are manifested in the counseling room.

James Lopresti, PhD, LMHC, currently supervises clinicians at SunServe who provide mental health care for transgender and gender non-conforming adults and adolescents. He has provided direct trans care both at Washington DC's Whitman Walker Heath and as the founder of mental health services at SunServe. He has presented workshops throughout the US on LGBTQ care and has held full time and/or adjunct faculty positions at various graduate schools including Johns Hopkins, Loyola Univ. of Chicago and Barry University.  He also serves on the board of Directors of the South Florida Transgender Medical Consortium.


Report on Photo Voice Project: Trans and Gender Non-Binary Youth Use Pictures to Tell Medical Providers About Their Lives and Their Needs (2020 Photo Voice research project of American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation)

Presenter: Eric Ardman, MD and project participants

Through PhotoVoice, a methodology of community-based participatory research, 5 transgender and gender creative (non-binary) participants, ages 15-17 years old, were recruited in early 2020 to take pictures of their daily lives relating to their gender identity and what they considered to be important for inclusion in conversations with healthcare providers regarding their transitioning process. The project was developed under the auspices of The American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation and administered at the youth case management and mental health program offices at SunServe in Fort Lauderdale. The pictures and themes which emerged related to transitioning as understood from their unique perspectives and directed toward medical providers will be shared and discussed by the project’s team leader.

Eric Ardman, MD, is a 2020 graduate of UM’s Miller School of Medicine and currently in his internship year in Portland, OR, is 1 of 10 scholarship winners in the “Philanthropic & Mission-Driven Leadership” track of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation’s 2019 Family Medicine Leads Emerging Leader Institute. His first research project took him to Thailand where he engaged with family practice physicians. For his second project he chose to focus on transgender care and approached the leadership at SunServe in the summer of 2019. He will report on the Photo Voice Community Participatory Research project he led in early 2020 with trans and gender creative youth accessing services at the agency. His published report on the project will be available to participants in this session


Transgender Teens on the Autism Spectrum

Presented by : Presenter: David B. Wohlsifer, PhD, LCSW

Florida Atlantic University- FAU

This workshop explores people on the autistic spectrum have been noted to have a higher rate of gender variance when compared to those who are not on the autistic spectrum. Broadening the dominant neurotypical (aka not on the autism spectrum) hold on thinking about aspects of gender identity this workshop will be serve as an opportunity to examine the intersectionality of gender identity and autism. Special attention will be paid to the lived experience of people who have been diagnosed as being on the autism disorder spectrum (ASD) and identify as transgender, gender fluid, and/or gender non-binary. Suggestions will be made for best practices when working with this population and their families.

David B. Wohlsifer, PhD, LCSW, is a Clinical Instructor on the full-time faculty at Florida Atlantic University, Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work, as well as the co-owner and co-founder of the Boca Raton Center for Psychotherapy. He is an LCSW (FL & PA), FL certified sex therapist, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, Florida Certified Clinical Supervisor, Diplomate of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, and has over 25 years of experience in clinical practice. He  works extensively with transgender/gender variant youth and their families as well as people on the ASD spectrum.  His practice also focuses on couple and family, sex therapy, and CBT


Teen Trans Identity: The Young Search for Identity Beyond the Binary

Presenter: Michael Alexander-Luz, LCSW , Staff

and Youth Mental Health Services, SunServe


Like any other self-identified group in modern life, the transgender community is evolving as new experiences and new viewpoints emerge into public conversation. Not too many years ago any conversation about gender identity would have considered only two alternatives, transitioning from male to female or vice versa. Today’s evolving gender consciousness is far richer and more complex. While hormonal and surgical interventions for transitioning FTM or MTF are still the self- identified needs of a large percentage of the trans community, others have blurred the binary and embrace unique gender identities that therapist need to be able to understand to be prepared for whoever walks into the counseling rooms. Learn from therapists who work almost exclusively with transgender youth about what their search for identity looks like and how they are to be heard and understood now and in the future.

Michael Alexander-Luz, LCSW, is the lead therapist in SunServe’s Youth Services program. He supervises a team of five full time therapists whose case load is nearly 90% trans, gender expansive, or gender identity questioning youth and their families. The team works closely with a group of life coaches in the department who provide intensive case management for at risk LGBTQ+ youth. He also leads the facilitation for the Different Drummer Group, the monthly gathering of parents of young gender expansive children (ages 3 -11). The group includes time for these young children to gather with each other in professionally facilitated sessions. 

Mental Health Track

Friday  September 18 , 2020


The “Letters” for HRT and Surgery: Why Write them? When and How to Write Them –

a Client Centered Approach

Presenter: Cole Timonere, JD, MS with Jim Lopresti, PhD, LMHC


Many transgender and gender expansive clients connect with therapists because they have been told by their physician or by others in the community that they need to have a letter from a therapist before a medical provider will offer specific medical interventions. In this session we will examine what WPATH has established as a standard of care concerning such a letter and then discuss the varying levels of necessity for the letter and for therapy sessions related to the letter. We will examine that from all three perspectives: the client's, the therapist's and the providers of various medical interventions. And we will consider the challenges that initiating request sets up for the counseling room and ways to meet that challenge that are arise from a "client-centered" rather than a "gate keeping" mind-set.

Cole Timonere, JD, MA is a current PhD student at Barry University pursing his studies in counselor education and supervision. Cole identifies as a transgender man and brings a unique set of skills to the profession, given his past career as a licensed attorney. Cole is a master’s level clinician and specializes in working with the transgender and gender expansive community. He has experience in counseling, case management, crisis intervention, human behavior, and therapeutic relationships, and has developed training materials that improve the treatment and support of transgender and marginalized populations.  


Essentials of Case Management and Peer Support for a Transitioning Client

Presenter : Misty Eyez and

SunServe Case Management Staff, 

Most cisgender persons of privilege seldom have reason to think twice about many of the circumstances of day to day life that are often traumatic and sometimes even physically dangerous for transgender persons. That includes such regular activities as: Producing legal documents for all kinds of reasons in public life; Making an application for housing or a job, or keeping one once their true gender identity becomes known or outwardly visible; Seeking regular or emergency medical care in a doctor’s office or a hospital E.R.; Getting a driver’s license or any other form of official I.D.; Demanding constitutional protections when challenged by public officials or officers of the law or the courts. Transgender persons need to be vigilant and prepared for challenges, rejection, hostility and possible physical harm in many of those settings while managing the personal, familial, social and cultural demands of the process of becoming visible as who they really are in their day to day world. Counselors and therapists need to be keenly aware of these foundational matters in the hierarchy of human needs if they are to be effective care team members for their transgender clients. Hear from a team of case manages working with the trans community about the challenges and the solutions

Misty Eyez  navigates the complexities of life in the larger community as a trans person a highly sought-after trainer in South Florida, has shared her personal and professional perspective on a host of issues impacting the trans community with many police departments, government officials, school, medical and social service agency personnel as well as with leaders in the corporate world of work. She currently leads the Transgender Services Departments at SunServe where she supervises a team of case managers who assist clients