I finally took the plunge and created my first “Ask a Gender Therapist” YouTube video! Eventually it’ll have music, titling, and more editing. But for now, it’s actually not bad for being so “rough.”
Check out the video and let me know what you think. The transcript is right below it, if you’re more of a reader than a watcher.
Ask a Gender Therapist: Nervous About Meeting a New Therapist?
(Video Question Series)
Hello, my name is Dara Hoffman-Fox. I’m a gender therapist in Colorado and I write a blog called “Conversations with a Gender Therapist”. I have gotten a lot of questions from people because of having this blog. And I figured a lot of people are asking me very similar questions so, instead of responding individually to everyone’s emails, why not create a video series with a lot of these questions! That way it can help as many people as possible.
So, I’m going to go ahead and just jump right into the first question that I received. It came in a few months ago. I did end up answering this person’s question directly, but I thought this was a really good one to start off with because it’s one that a lot of people ask me.
“Hi Dara, I’m 17 and about to go to a therapist for the first time. I’m kind of nervous about it. Could you tell me what kind of questions they ask and/or what a session is like so I at least have some idea about what I’m going into?”
Okay, so here’s the first thing to keep in mind. Every therapist is different. Some therapists offer free consultation, some don’t. I think it’s really important to offer that free consultation. Mine’s a half hour long. That way you can go ahead and go in, be able to ask the therapist the questions that are on your mind and not feel pressured to have to pay for the session or to have to come back again. And, it gives you a chance to see how comfortable you are with the therapist. Hopefully the therapist you are going to visit does offer this free consultation. If they don’t I think it’s worth a try to ask and if they possibly would see you for free for even 15 minutes or so, just so you don’t have to feel that kind of pressure.
Wondering what types of questions the therapist asks…Right from the start we are curious about what brings you into our office. Honestly, because a lot of times I do work with clients who are transgender, usually someone will tell me that ahead of time through email or a phone call. They say right from the start, “Hey, I found your name on the internet because I’m looking for a gender therapist,” so I know going into it that is what they want to talk about.
But let’s say this isn’t something you have already brought up and the therapist says, “What brings you in today?” Go ahead and, as quickly as you can, get to the point of what you want to talk about. Go ahead and start feeling out the therapist to see if they are comfortable with what you are bringing up.
Bring in your questions that you know you want to make sure your therapist is able to answer. Do you want to make sure your therapist is comfortable writing hormone replacement letters and surgery letters? Do you want to know if they have contacts in the area for physicians, name change information, support group information, and those kinds of things?
The thing is, as you are asking your questions to the therapist and the therapist is asking you some questions too, it’s almost more about how do you feel with that therapist? Do you see yourself being able to open up to that person for however many sessions you end up seeing them? That’s the main thing to focus on, so even though your words are important, your questions are important, and their questions are important, you have to feel out how comfortable you are with that person. That’s the number one thing, in my opinion that I think makes for a good relationship between a client and a therapist.
In terms of what is it that you are getting into when you do go visit a therapist…Right from the start it’s important to know if you are going to be comfortable with that person or not. You can take a look and see what their office is like (gestures to office behind her), for instance you can see a little bit of what mine is.
But not everyone has the same style that I do. I find that it makes people pretty comfortable to see that it isn’t a typical sort of sterile environment. When I say “typical” I mean sometimes what hospitals can be like. Or sometimes in the movies or TV, people can get an impression about, “Ohh, that’s what it’s going to be like to see the therapist.” So if that doesn’t matter to you, then it doesn’t matter. But if it does, make sure you’re going to be very comfortable when you go to speak with that person.
So, in general, if you are seeking out a therapist to help you out with transitioning, make sure you also ask them how familiar they are with the WPATH Standards of Care. That’s because if you are interested in them writing you letters for either hormone therapy or for surgery, you need to make sure that your therapist is very familiar with the very newest Standards of Care, which came out in 2013. So that shows you have done your research and then you will know if the therapist is going to be the best person to help you out with this.
So, I hope that’s been of help to you and hopefully to others out there who would like to have that sort of information. Like I said, come visit me on my blog, it’s Conversations-with-a-Gender-Therapist.com. I hope to see you there and I’ll be back again with more questions.
If you do have a question you would like to ask me, please email it to DaraHoffmanFox@gmail.com. Take care, see ya!