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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » Therapy and Feminist Dating

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Author Topic: Therapy and Feminist Dating
MusicNerd
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So, this is a continuation of another thread Asking Someone Out.
quote:
Plus, if what she was saying was true for, say a dude you have interest in, why wouldn't it also be true for you?
That's what I was thinking, too! I mean, she also mentioned other stuff like biology being the basis of this kind of thinking (which internally made me roll my eyes) and how the guy needs to be super super special in my eyes in order for me to ask him out. But like... I'm confused as to how I'd know how "special" he is if we didn't hang out and get to know each other or go on a casual date. And also, no, her advice that was given in the other thread was not mentioned in regards to my dating interactions with women.

I've been thinking lately about going to someone else for therapy, but I'm wondering:
1. Is there any therapist that would give feminist, race-aware, queer-friendly dating advice and how would I find them? I ask this, because my current therapist has been really great about acknowledging racial dynamics I've encountered and being queer-friendly.
and
2. I made it clear to her that I can be quite blunt at times, and since I already made an appointment to see her again, it'd be kinda awkward if I just canceled which would pretty much send the message "jk, I don't actually wanna see you, and I'm not as straight-forward as you think, because if I were I would've told you that I didn't want to see you after our last session (even though, I wasn't quite sure if I did or didn't want to see her again, but I kinda thought at the time that I maybe did)".

(Edited: for typos and additional sentence added to question 1)

[ 07-05-2013, 05:39 PM: Message edited by: MusicNerd ]

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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Heather
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You know, "biology" actually doesn't tend to support gender essentialism like she was spouting. Biology also has nada to do with dating, or just asking someone to hang out. I find someone who is a qualified therapist calling these kinds of opinions biology disturbing (I'd expect a qualified therapist to know what "biology" means and encompasses), as well as sharing them with patients, personally.

You know, ultimately, "dating advice," like how to ask someone out isn't usually something a therapist will be doing with patients at all. Therapy, on the whole, is about someone helping a person to better understand themselves and cope with parts of their lives. general dating advice, on the whole, is by and large going to involve a lot of personal opinion from a therapist, and that's not how therapy is supposed to go.

So, a therapist might, for instance, help you figure out, as the person you are, how to do dating and relationships in ways that feel right for you. They might help you with what is and isn't healthy in relationship if you are having issues with that.

For example, if you said, "I feel shy about asking people out," a good therapists response might be something like, "Why do you think that is?" Or "How can I help you with that?" Or, "Should we talk together to help you come up with some strategies to express that kind of interest in others you DO feel comfortable with?"

Get the difference?

But something like telling you who they think should or shouldn't ask someone out, etc? That's really not the kind of work a therapist does with a patient.

Are there therapists who are feminist and queer-friendly? Absolutely. Sounds like you might not have found one of those, especially if she knows you're queer and is dishing out these kinds of ideas about gender. Per how to find them, I'd say these are things to bring up when screening them. make clear you're queer, you're feminist, you are looking for someone with some cultural understanding and sensitivity around race, etc. Then you see what the therapists you're screening with come back with when you bring that up.

But in terms of broad dating advice, per se, again, a therapist isn't likely going to spend their time doing that with you for the most part: they're going to want to help you dig a lot deeper than that. Get what I mean?

Really, that's more the area of sex and relationships educators, writers and coaches, not therapists.

[ 07-05-2013, 05:43 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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MusicNerd
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quote:
So, a therapist might, for instance, help you figure out, as the person you are, how to do dating and relationships in ways that feel right for you. They might help you with what is and isn't healthy in relationship if you are having issues with that.

For example, if you said, "I feel shy about asking people out," a good therapists response might be something like, "Why do you think that is?" Or "How can I help you with that?" Or, "Should we talk together to help you come up with some strategies to express that kind of interest in others you DO feel comfortable with?"

Get the difference?

Ah so, just to make sure I understand what you're saying (but correct me if I'm wrong), it's less about dating advice and more about helping a person find ways to deal with issues they're having (even if some of those issues are in dating)?

Okay, well since feminism doesn't seem to be very mainstream, I guess it's just gonna take me a little while to find a therapist who would be able to help. I'll just have to be outright with these things from the get-go though if I wanna make progress.

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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Heather
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Honestly, I actually wouldn't say that feminism isn't mainstream.

Or rather, that finding a therapist who may or may not be feminist, but who isn't going to be lobbing gender essentialism at you, and will support your feminism and ideas about gender equality, whether or not they share them, should be difficult.

Again, therapists really should be seriously limiting their own personal opinions and belief systems. So, if someone is qualified, in a lot of ways, whether they are all those things or not should be a non-issue. The issue is if, for instance, they serve queer patients per having that education and literacy. And the same with the other issues.

And yep: you've got it right per the issue with dating advice.

I mean, ultimately, I'd say a good therapist would NOT be going to "Here's how you get the guy" stuff. Again: ethics. See also: boundaries. That's simply not within a therapists job description, and I'd also say that'd be a serious waste of money when it comes to paying for therapy. A therapists primary job is listening, and guiding a patient to talk about their feelings, ideas and thoughts, not dispensing advice.

Can I ask what you are looking for in therapy? If you want help figuring what you need -- and don't -- in a therapist, or what's something a therapist does vs. someone else, it would help to know that.

[ 07-05-2013, 06:10 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Molias
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I have NO information about this group other than a quick web search for "queer friendly therapy" but there's a search engine here for specifically for LGBTQ-friendly therapists. You could also do a general web search for "feminist therapy," "queer-friendly therapist," etc. with your area added to find possible folks to contact.

I did a similar web search for my city the last time I wanted to find a therapist, and the one I found did a phone interview before the first session. I specifically said on the phone "I need you to be ok with queer/trans people and poly relationships, and to not pin any of my issues on those things. Is that ok?" And based on her response I felt comfortable going in to see her.

Also, while I got along fine with that therapist, there was a point at which I felt like I had solved my immediate issue and was ready to wrap up our sessions. But I felt so awkward telling her I wanted to quit! I went a few more times before she actually asked me "how are you feeling about therapy? How well is it meeting your needs right now?" and we were able to have a conversation about it and that turned out to be our last session. She went out of her way to be really clear that it was ok for me to make my own decisions about continuing or not continuing therapy in general, or with her in particular. It really is your decision, and I don't think a decent therapist will say "oh man that person was LYING about their bluntness since they cancelled this appointment!!" if you choose to do so.
Or if they do, that's on them, not you. =)

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MusicNerd
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Ah, I see what you're saying now.

Well, I guess what I'm looking for in therapy is a way to learn how to deal with my anxiety and depression and negative self-talk (especially regarding body image and dating/non-platonic scenarios), learning how to build my self-esteem, how to combat self-doubt (especially since lately I've been finding myself in situations where I second-guess my intuition and people-perception skills a lot), how to deal with fears I have of relationships, how to deal with my over-protective parents, and I guess ways of dealing with vulnerability (since I tend to like avoiding it as much as possible, though I know that's probably not a good thing).

Sorry if that just seemed like a load of word-vomit, especially with all the parentheses.

Thanks Molias for your suggestion about the search engine! Once I get to a computer, I"ll check it out (my phone is weird sometimes). Also your humorous last paragraph makes me feel a bit more comfortable with the whole cancelling appointment thing, so thanks for that. [Smile]

[ 07-05-2013, 06:39 PM: Message edited by: MusicNerd ]

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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Heather
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That's okay.

But even with that list, you can probably clearly see that THAT stuff most certainly is within what a therapist works with, and is qualified to help you with.

Too, while this is somewhat subjective, I think it's also fair to say that stuff is a lot bigger, deeper and richer than "Do I ask X out or wait for him to ask me?" In other words, that stuff is worth exploring with a therapist for the kind of hourly fee they charge. What you can get for free from qualified sex and relationships educators, or from books -- both good ones and crappy ones? Total dating 101 stuff? Not so much.

(P.S. You know you're already at a place where we can advise you around these things, for free, no less, and it is what we actually do and are educated and experienced with doing, right? [Razz] )

Especially when what's being offered in that department isn't about helping you with YOUR stuff, very uniquely, and helping you to navigate this yourself, rather than telling you THEIR idea of how to do this, probably mostly based on what they do and think for themselves.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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MusicNerd
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I get what you're saying there. I really liked what you said about how therapists are supposed to be "helping you to navigate this rather than telling you THEIR idea of how to do this, probably mostly based on what they do and think for themselves".

And yes, I am well-aware that I'm in a place where I can find educated and experienced advice about these kinds of things. hahaha [Wink]

Thanks so much, Heather. I feel like I now have a bit of a better idea about what to look for in a therapist.

[ 07-05-2013, 06:57 PM: Message edited by: MusicNerd ]

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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Heather
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I'm also happy to suggest some books, if you like, with some feminist dating advice. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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MusicNerd
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Yes, please! That would be wonderful. In addition to being a music nerd, I'm also a book nerd. [Smile]

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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Heather
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So, I can think of a three-fer that would probably cover all of this really well for you, and where all of it is written for women of all orientations.

That'd be:
• Jaclyn Friedman's What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl's Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety
• Samhita Mukhopadhyay's Outdated: Why Dating Is Ruining Your Love Life
• And my book, S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College

(Not trying to shill for myself or my friends here, I just think our three books go very well together in this department.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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MusicNerd
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Yay!! Thank you so much! [Smile]

(Don't worry, I didn't think you were just trying to shill for you and your friends. [Big Grin] )

--------------------
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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