Welcome to Ansara Psychotherapy, the private psychotherapy, clinical education, and consulting practice established in 2016 by Dr Gávi Ansara. This psychotherapy practice is committed to Anti-Oppressive Clinical Practice. This means:
- non-pathologising: You are a person, not a bunch of disorder labels or a bundle of risks to be ‘managed’.
- cultural humility: There is always more for me to learn about you, because people grow and change constantly, you are unique, and you are the ‘expert’ on you.
- person-directed: I share clinical insights and recommendations about your options, then you decide from among these options how we work together. I adapt based on your feedback.
- polycultural: Your way of life guides me. “One size fits all” approaches don’t fit your needs or consider how, through a complex blend of cultural experiences, you have come to be who you are today. I care about meeting your cultural needs.
- informed by social justice principles: I care that something is unfair. We work together to do something about it.
I work with people, relationships, families, & community groups by phone, Zoom video worldwide, & in person in Narrm (the land known by the colonial name Melbourne), VIC. **I am currently working exclusively by distance instead of in person for the forseeable future due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.**
I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of Country and their enduring sovereignty of land, sea, sky, and community. I bear witness to their diversity and resilience, and honour the Elders past, present, and emerging. The land on which we live, love, and work in physical, digital, and other contexts is stolen land for which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ sovereignty was never ceded.
Are you tired of feeling misunderstood or judged by professionals and loved ones because of how you dress, how you feel, or what you want?
If so, then I can offer you a culturally safe, culturally humble, and therapeutic environment in which you are treated with respect, compassion, and celebration of who you are right now.
This includes but is not limited to people with strict and conservative religious observance, people with refugee status, non-binary people, goths, people involved in sex work, stressed out parents, Autistic/Aspie people of all ages, mixed neurostyle Autistic/Aspie and allistic (non-Autistic/non-Aspie) relationships, people in D/s and S/M relationships, and people in consensually non-monogamous and polyamorous/multi-partnered relationships and families.
I have over 15 years of experience and training that span a very diverse range of psychotherapy techniques and approaches. We can work together in the ways that work best for you.
If you are dealing with any challenging life experiences, I am here to provide you with sanctuary, a place to come when you feel you have no escape from the storm. Your fear, your anger, and how you actually feel beneath ‘the mask’ are all welcome: It’s okay to be you, in all of your beautiful complexity.
We can work together to make your life less stressful, more fulfilling, and more compassionate for you and your loved ones. I can help you to work through inner and interpersonal conflicts and to develop the skills you need to thrive. No matter how awful your life may seem now, we can work together to get you back on track again, whether that means returning to a familiar track or creating new paths.
As a therapist in private practice, I am unable to provide on-call crisis counselling. Please note that we are not a 24hr service. If you are in crisis, please contact 000 or click here for information about crisis support and suicide prevention services.
I am a Clinical Psychotherapist and a Relationship & Family Therapist with specialised training and experience in working with trauma, gender, sexuality, relationships, and bodies. I hold Full Clinical Registration with the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA Reg. Clinical) and am a Registered National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Provider who provides bulk billed services for NDIS Participants. I am accredited by the Australian Association of Family Therapy (AAFT) as a Clinical Family Therapist. I am also a Full Clinical Member of the Australian College of Relationship Counsellors (ACRC) and the PACFA College of Psychotherapy.
I am accredited by the International Association of Trauma Professionals (IATP) as a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional Level II: Complex Trauma & Dissociation (CCTP-II) and a Certified Family Trauma Professional (CFTP). I hold a PhD in Psychology (Surrey), MSc in Social Psychology (Surrey), Master of Counselling (Monash), and a BA in International & Cross-Cultural Health with concentrations in African Studies and Media Studies (Hamp). I have also completed an AAFT-accredited Advanced Clinical Training in Family Therapy (Gilead Downs Family Therapy Centre).
I am a trans-affirming, kink-knowledgeable, sex worker affirming, neurodiversity positive, anti-racist, anti-colonial, and polyamory positive therapist who works from a strengths-based perspective. As a reputable practitioner, I engage in ongoing professional development and receive regular clinical supervision with accredited supervisors, including an AAFT-accredited Senior Clinical Supervisor specialising in Integrative and Systemic Relationship & Family Therapy. I have delivered conference presentations and/or accredited clinical education for AAFT, the Australian Association for Transgender Health (AusPATH), the Australian Psychological Society (APS), and PACFA.
I am internationally recognised for my work, as a past recipient of
- The American Psychological Association (APA) Transgender Research Award for making a significant and original research contribution about young people
- The UK Higher Education Academy National Psychology Postgraduate Teaching Award for excellence in teaching and making a positive impact on the community
- The University of Surrey Vice Chancellor’s Alumni Achievement Award for outstanding contributions to standards and policies in international human rights and social justice
Statement of Anti-Oppressive Practice
Evidence documents that human rights violations by medical and mental health professionals against intersex people and people of trans and/or non-binary experience or identity are widespread. Due to my commitment to anti-oppressive practice as part of professional ethics, I have a long-standing policy of not holding formal membership in any transgender-specific or intersex-specific professional organisation unless it has explicit policies to prohibit members from participating in non-consensual ‘normalising’ medical or mental health interventions; conversion therapy to change or restrict people’s human right to gender autonomy; and all practices that pathologise or invalidate people’s own understanding of their genders and bodies. Unfortunately, at this time, there are no professional associations that meet this criterion. Feel free to contact me to notify me if this changes.
Q: Which issues can we work on together?
My practice focuses on supporting people of all ages, cultures, faith/beliefs, and backgrounds with a range of concerns across your life.
In particular, I provide respectful & knowledgeable care for people, partners, & families with:
- Asexual/Ace spectrum & aromantic experiences
- Asylum, migrant, &/or refugee experience
- Autistic/Aspie (Aspergers) neurodiversity
- BDSM/consensual kink
- Bereavement, death, & dying
- Bisexual/queer/pan identity, exclusion, & invisibility
- Chronic pain, complex health conditions, & long-term illness
- Conservative faith/belief traditions & strict religious observance
- Disability labels and/or impairments
- Eating & food issues
- Experience of homelessness, poverty, rough sleeping, &/or having ‘no fixed address’
- Intersex embodiment
- Otherkin/Therian selves & experiences
- Polyamory/consensual non-monogamies
- Sadness, loss, & grief
- Sex work experiences
- Spiritual & metaphysical experiences (including African-Caribbean belief systems)
- Substance addiction, recovery,lapse/relapse prevention, & post-re/lapse recovery
- Surgical decision-making & psychosocial after-care plans
- Trans and/or non-binary experience or identity (including support letters for HRT & surgeries)
- Trauma (including assault, complex and developmental trauma, intergenerational trauma, medical abuse, neglect, partner/family violence, & torture)
- Voice hearing
- BDSM/consensual kink practitioners
- people involved in both context-specific and 24/7 D/s and S/M relationships
- Mixed Autistic/Aspie & allistic (non-Aspie) partners
- Mixed mono & polyamorous/multi-partnered partners
- Polyamorous &/or consensually non-monogamous/multi-partnered
- Religiously observant &/or living in strict religious/faith communities
- Same-gender (LGBQ) partners
As a professional, I am:
- Knowledgeable about asexual (ace) spectrum experiences, intersex embodiment, trans and/or non-binary experience or identity, disability, fursonas, LGBQ sexualities, same-gender relationships, D/s relationships, consensually non-monogamous & polyamorous/multi-partnered relationships and families, BDSM and consensual power exchange, autistic neurodiversity and relational styles, sex work, and Otherkin/Therian lives & experiences.
(Based on classification system of friendly, aware, and knowledgeable based on definitions provided by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom).
I am widely published in peer-reviewed, scientific journals for scholarship in the fields of psychology, trans studies, and cisgenderism studies. You can read my article, Trauma psychotherapy with people involved in BDSM/kink: Five common misconceptions and five essential clinical skills, in the Special Issue on Working with Trauma in the peer-reviewed Psychotherapy & Counselling Journal of Australia (PACJA). My widely cited research findings have also been credited as the key influence that initiated changes to the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) language policy. I have delivered advanced clinical education on affirming therapeutic work with people of trans and/or non-binary experience to professionals and professional bodies around the world, including to the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and the Australian Professional Association for Transgender Health (AusPATH).
I have testified for an Australian Senate Committee hearing on the involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people and authored numerous health policy documents informed by running national policy consultations on the needs of intersex people and people of trans and/or non-binary experience or identity.
Q: What makes your practice different?
“we must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.”
-Jewish scholar and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel זצ״ל
I understand that who you are contains too many stories and life experiences to be reduced to being solely an identity label or psychiatric diagnosis. I believe that working with you to tell your story in your own way and to set your own paths in life is a form of social justice. My approach combines a dual emphasis on building a safe and open therapeutic relationship and providing the structure and guidance you need to achieve your goals.
Q: How do you apply that understanding in your practice?
My work extends beyond the therapy room into advocacy and support services that respond to your needs in the relationships, systems, and communities in your life. This might include activities such as facilitating a conflict resolution session with your loved one, attending your medical appointment as your patient advocate, or writing a letter to your school, university, or employer on your behalf.
Q: Given that your psychotherapy approach does not involve psychiatric diagnoses, how do you relate to medical professionals?
My work often involves collaborating with medical professionals as part of the team working toward your health and wellbeing. I experience science, intuition, and empathy as complementary. Physicians and psychotherapists each possess some knowledge and skills to help you with different aspects of working through challenging life experiences and health issues.
Q: Which values have the most influence on your practice?
My psychotherapy work is fundamentally about ḥesed (kindness), guiding you to know and accept your needs, desires, fears, and secrets with tenderness, and to find safe and caring ways to express your being and improve your relationships. I value and celebrate many different ways of living, loving, and being in the world.
Q: What’s different about your approach to psychotherapy?
As an Anti-Oppressive Clinical Psychotherapist, my work applies a non-pathologising, person-directed, and polycultural approach to psychotherapy informed by social justice principles.
Q: What do you mean by ‘non-pathologising’?
Although psychiatric labels can sometimes be comforting for people, many people experience these labels as unhelpful and culturally inappropriate, as I discovered while working as a bilingual psychiatric rehabilitation caseworker. I am skilled in using evidence-based psychotherapy methods and professional advocacy skills to achieve your goals without diagnostic colonising of your spirituality, sexuality, gender, culture, or way of life. I have referral pathways with health professionals who can assist with specific aspects of your care, only where you give informed consent on your own behalf and where you and I both agree that medication and/or diagnoses will actually be helpful. If you are experiencing health concerns such as dementia, suicidal thoughts, and safety issues, I will work with you to develop a comprehensive advance care plan that meets your needs and respects your freedom to the greatest extent possible.
Q: What do you mean by ‘person-directed’?
I mean that you, the person seeking psychotherapy, will decide what we do, how we work together, which options you are willing to consider, and what you want and need in your life. Decisions made in therapeutic ‘partnerships’ affect the lives of people seeking therapy far more than they affect therapists. Being aware of this power dynamic is essential to ethical practice. Although I have psychotherapy and professional advocacy skills to guide your journey and may have more knowledge and experience regarding how to deal with the particular issues you are facing, you are the expert on yourself.
Q: What do you mean by ‘polycultural’?
I grew up speaking multiple languages in multiple cultures on multiple continents. Growing up in a strictly observant Jewish environment in Australia and in rural and urban China, I have always enjoyed experiencing the world in multiple languages and perspectives. My passion for polycultural experience has led me to do paid and volunteer work of various kinds with people in England, Pakistan, Poland, Scotland, and elsewhere.
Although some people can identify a single culture that has shaped their life experience, many of us are a fusion of cultures and influences. Many of us grew up speaking one language at home and another in school. Many of us grew up being able to speak the language of the dominant culture around us, while feeling that we never quite fit in because we talked with our hands or explained ourselves in terms of images and rituals from another culture.
My practice is also influenced by over a decade of having provided professional support and advocacy for people seeking asylum, people living in communities where their cultures are ignored or misunderstood, and others who have felt like outsiders and exiles. I use psychotherapy techniques from around the world, not only those developed by English-speaking people and/or people living in Europe, Australia, and the United States.
Q: What do you mean by ‘social justice principles’?
Some social justice principles relevant to psychotherapy and professional advocacy services include but are not limited to:
- Access: working to make sure that you have equal access to goods and services
- Equity: overcoming unfairness caused by unequal access to economic resources and public life
- Autonomy: protecting your right to make decisions that govern your own life whenever possible
- Advocacy: working beyond the psychotherapy room to address systemic barriers and oppression you experience in your everyday life
- Awareness: awareness of the social relations of power and privilege
- Action & Accountability: Not just recognising and validating oppression, but initiating action to anticipate, prevent, and challenge it.
- Reparations: Commitment to identifying and repairing the effects of past oppressive experiences you may have had in therapy.
To find out more about my practice, visit this FAQ page.