About Dr. Erhardt
I am a Licensed
Clinical Psychologist (Georgia license #1818), with
a Ph.D. from Georgia State University. I am a member of AASECT, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, and WPATH, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. I have presented at many conferences, including the 2005 Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Symposium in Bologna, Italy, and the 2007 WPATH Symposium in Chicago.
I was born in New York, and after leaving there in
1960, lived in various parts of the country, on both
coasts. I lived in the Atlanta area from 1977 until July of 1999.
I have offered psychological services in diverse
settings, including the Emory University Counseling
Center, Ridgeview Institute, the Atlanta Veterans
Administration Hospital, and Shepherd Spinal Center.
In 1992, I opened my private practice, which became
full time in 1994.
In addition to Clinical Hypnosis (I am certified through the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis), the focus of my private practice is individual, couples,
and sex therapy. My training as a sex therapist included
study and supervision with Drs. Mark Ackerman, Steve
Sloan, the Talmadges, David Schnarch, and Jeanne Shaw.
My specialized training and experience in the field of
sex and gender goes beyond traditional sex therapy. It
includes work with those dealing with chronic illness and
disability, and work with people with issues
regarding their sexual orientation, gender identity,
and erotic orientation.
How I happened to become a gender specialist.
I will tell you a bit about how this specialty evolved.
In 1994, I had one session with a heterosexual crossdresser.
He wanted to know whether I could make his desire to
crossdress go away, and with it, the eroticism that
accompanied it. I said that I did not think it possible to
do so and encouraged him to disclose to his wife and
incorporate his crossdressing into their erotic life. That
was the last I saw of him, but he left me a message some
months later, thanking me for my suggestion and reporting
that his wife had accepted his crossdressing more readily
than he had dared to hope was possible.
Then in 1995, an MtF (Male-to-Female) transsexual came to see me. I was
very interested in working with this person, but decided
that my open-mindedness and the little I'd read about
gender issues were not enough to serve the needs of gender
variant clients. At a local meeting of members of SSSS (The
Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality) I asked about
resources, and was directed to Ms. Dallas Denny, M.A., founder
of AGE (Atlanta Gender Explorations Support Group) and AEGIS (American Educational Gender Information Service) which merged with It's Time America to form GEA - Gender Education and Advocacy.
Dallas was very helpful, sending me literature and telling
me about the Southern Comfort Conference. I read everything
I could get my hands on and got together with transgendered
people (including Dallas herself) who were willing to share
their own personal experiences with me. The more I learned,
the more I wanted to learn.
In 1996, I attended the Southern Comfort Conference. The
gender community welcomed me with open arms, and in 1997
& 1998, I was part of the committee (with Dallas Denny,
Erin Swenson, Jack Boyan, and Jan Heckler) that planned and
presented the first Professional Training offering Continuing
Education credits at a gender conference. I have also presented
on gender issues to the Georgia Psychological Association and
the Georgia Bar (offering continuing education for attorneys).
When, after many years of leading the AGE (Atlanta Gender Explorations) Support Group one
Saturday evening a month, Jack Boyan was ready to take a break,
I was approached about stepping in. From late 1998 until the
end of 1999, I facilitated the Group.
Meanwhile, I was seeing an increasing number of transgender
clients. This has been the most rewarding work I have ever done.
I particularly enjoy it when someone comes to me early on in his
or her gender exploration, but I'm also impressed by how much
many people know, and how well they have informed themselves
about gender issues. The Internet certainly has been a godsend.
At first I worked with more MtFs, but in more recent years, I have seen an increasing number of FtMs. My clients' ages have ranged from 4 to 74, and I work with the parents of gender-variant children, helping them to provide an accepting environment.
I see the WPATH Standards of Care as guidelines rather than rules.
I struggle with being seen as a gatekeeper, and try to communicate
to my clients that I am available to assist them with any
exploration in which they want to engage; I am there to work with
them on the myriad issues that accompany the decision process
and, if they so choose, transition to whatever point they find
comfortable; I will not insist upon psychotherapy, per se, if a
person does not want it. For some clients, the process involves
simply ruling out alternative possibilities that might make
transition inadvisable, and assuring that the person is sufficiently
knowledgeable and capable of giving informed consent.