What should I have prepared going into my first counselling session where I'll be talking about gender dysphoria?

Questions and discussions about gender, gender roles and identity.
CodingSocks
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What should I have prepared going into my first counselling session where I'll be talking about gender dysphoria?

Unread post by CodingSocks »

Hello!

First post here :] !

As the title implies, I'm unsure what I might be walking into. Is there any way I can prepare to have a productive first session, or should I just wait and see?

Cheers,
Socks
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Re: What should I have prepared going into my first counselling session where I'll be talking about gender dysphoria?

Unread post by Mo »

Hi CodingSocks, and welcome to Scarleteen.

I think a lot of this will depend on the practitioner you're seeing, and their general approach to any sort of gender-affirming care, but my general advice is to do some brainstorming beforehand and set out whatever narrative feels most comprehensive and comfortable for you to share. It can be easy for people to want to downplay the impact of dysphoria on their lives (that was the case for me at least, the first time I talked to a healthcare provider about it), but I encourage you to be as candid as you can about the impact it's had on you.

If the doctor or clinic you're going to have information online about the services they provide, some of the language there might have some clues about the kind of approach that might be the most useful. I think you'll probably have the best sense once you get there, though.
CodingSocks
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Re: What should I have prepared going into my first counselling session where I'll be talking about gender dysphoria?

Unread post by CodingSocks »

Thanks for the reply Mo!

I appreciate your advice. I'll try and do some brainstorming regarding some of the major sticking points I've noticed through the years as to clearly articulate my experiences with dysphoria.

... regarding "clearly articulating", I've also been feeling a lot of tension/stress regarding the appointment. The idea of sitting down for the video call feels incredibly "real". It's a similar feeling to stage freight I'd say.

To avoid feeling the burden of considering the possibility of bringing up everything in one meeting with a stranger, could it be a good strategy to try and estimate how many sessions deep I might want to talk about something, and set boundaries during my sessions regarding that?

So:
Session 1: Topics A, B, C
Session 2: Topic D
Sessions 4+: Topics F, G, H
...

I don't want to fumble how I word a sensitive topic that could be easily misconstrued, but I also don't want to put up too many barriers around myself and deny myself the opportunity to explore these concepts in an environment that is likely to be very understanding.

This stress/tension could also be related to certain toxically masculine traits I may have unconsciously system regarding talking about one's own feelings too? Might be a topic for a different thread though ;].

Thank you for your time,
Socks
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Re: What should I have prepared going into my first counselling session where I'll be talking about gender dysphoria?

Unread post by Michaela »

Hi Socks,

Sitting down with a stranger to tell them about your struggles and feelings is an extremely vulnerable position so it makes sense that you are feeling some stress around the appointment. But, it also takes a lot of courage and that should not go unmentioned. Since it sounds like this will be a virtual appointment you can be in control of your environment to add some comfort. For example, things I have done during virtual therapy are having a cup of tea with me, my cat on my lap, a hot compress over my shoulder (where I hold some tension), chocolate nearby, and also scheduling some buffer time before and after (time to decompress before I'm around others). Do any of those things sound like they may aid you or are there some other things that bring you comfort that you could have around you?

From the way you described it, if that strategy brings you a feeling of security from the control then I would definitely bring it up with your therapist. These appointments are for you so you get to be the boss. They may talk to you about those boundaries to better understand them but it starts off a great conversation about what you are or are not comfortable talking about yet.

Finally, It can take some time and practice to try and untangle what you are feeling and describe it to someone else but therapists understand that. However, you could always attempt to journal about a topic or think about it beforehand to get a better grasp over it if that will make you feel more confident speaking about it with someone else. Hopefully, your therapist will help to show you that it is a safe space to fumble around words but it's ok to start things off slower in the beginning.

To the last thing you mentioned, a huge part of therapy does involve talking about emotions so feel free to use this space to tell us a little more about your relationship with engaging with that side.

I hope some of this helps and I am wishing you luck on your appointment!
CodingSocks
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Re: What should I have prepared going into my first counselling session where I'll be talking about gender dysphoria?

Unread post by CodingSocks »

Very thoughtful reply Michaela!

I'll think more about some of the creature comforts I could provide myself for the appointment. I can already think of a few good ideas (Chocolate, avoid caffeine for the day, a different location than what I had in mind).

I have availed of the services offered at this clinic before, where they were luckily able to see me on a walk-in for an acute problem. Then, I really did not know what to expect, but was very pleased with the sense of agency that I walked away with. As you said, I was the boss.


Finally, It can take some time and practice to try and untangle what you are feeling and describe it to someone else but therapists understand that.
Yeah, that makes sense :0. I don't have to feel like I need to walk on eggshells and say everything correctly the first time. It is okay if I become flustered. It's flustering stuff lol.

That being said, I will still try to identify the boundaries I would desire. The exact way I'll go about this, I'll workshop. I'm the boss after all ;p.


To the last thing you mentioned, a huge part of therapy does involve talking about emotions so feel free to use this space to tell us a little more about your relationship with engaging with that side.
Maybe I was giving myself a bit of a hard time on my comment above regarding that specific topic. I do have a good reason to be uncomfortable talking about these topics with a stranger, but that also doesn't mean that I have to buckle-down/buckle-in for a psychosocial meat grinder like I might have been framing it in my mind before. I can take steps to increase my comfort; if I understand your sentiment correctly?


... so feel free to use this space to tell us a little more about your relationship with engaging with that side.
I do appreciate you inviting me to explore that idea more here, which I might in a different form.


I appreciate your word on this,
Socks
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Re: What should I have prepared going into my first counselling session where I'll be talking about gender dysphoria?

Unread post by nicole »

Hi CodingSocks,

I'm glad that Michaela's response has been resonating with you. I'm also happy to see that you've been identifying topics and issues to discuss and look into. As for your comment about opening up about your emotions, most counselors will completely understand that it takes some time for a client to feel comfortable enough to share their innermost feelings, so please take it easy! I wish you the best of luck in your appointment and please let us know if you have any more questions or concerns!
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