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Thread: beginning counseling: what to expect?

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    Aspiring Member elizabethamy's Avatar
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    beginning counseling: what to expect?

    Hi everyone,

    I'm new to the board, have been dressing about 2 years, told my wife this week. She and I are on a counseling journey re our decision-making, planning, and other issues...but I have just arranged to start personal therapy about my situation as a late-emerging (50 years plus) cross dresser. I want to know where this came from and where it's going, what control I can and should have, what my wife should expect, and all that...as I look on the web, I see a lot of support -- understandably -- for males who are wanting to transition or change genders. I don't know, honestly, how far all this will go, but I hope that my therapist will not begin with a preconceived notion. Does anyone have any advice, or experience, in what happens in therapy? Is there a "push" toward becoming a woman? Is that, in fact, what deep down we all want? I don't know...

  2. #2
    Aspiring Artist Kelly DeWinter's Avatar
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    Therapy is not about pushing you to do anything, it's more about discovering what you want to accomplish and setting goals and methods for acieving that. If you desire to stop cding then you can discuss goals and methods for achieving that. Some people are successful some are not most end up finding a happy medium.
    Last edited by Kelly DeWinter; 11-13-2011 at 06:10 PM.
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    Aspiring Member elizabethamy's Avatar
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    thanks, Kelly! I think my challenge is how to know what I want...that's the help i hope to get...

    e

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    Isn't Life Grand? AllieSF's Avatar
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    I agree with Kelly and their job is to help you understand whatever is bothering you, why and to then help you decide how to deal with it, if there is a need to do so. I do recommend that you try to find someone with experience with transgender issues. I also recommend that you be completely honest and open. Please do not feel embarrassed to tell the therapist everything, even if it is embarrassing. They need the complete story to understand and not get a partial picture. I have only been to relationship therapy a long time ago and I believe that it can definitely help. One other thing is that if you do not feel comfortable with this therapist, do not hesitate to change and try another one. Other than that, I must congratulate you on coming out to your wife and your quick decision to get third party help. Keep up the good work and good luck.

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    Unless your therapist is a real incompetent, he/she will NOT start with ANY "preconceived notion". Therapy is to help YOU sort out your feelings and desires. Finding your own way and the expectations you should have or might have about your life and about your relationship with your wife.

    A good therapist is a wonderful addition to your life when you are questioning and confused.

    S

  6. #6
    Aspiring Member Alberta_Pat's Avatar
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    Your therapist should be looked upon as a guide. She or He will help you to deal with your concerns about life and how it affects you.

    As Allie said above, Be brutally honest. Without sharing every little detail, it is not going to work. You are trying to find out who you are, and the only way is by sharing your fears, your background and your life.

    What can you expect? Did you see Tony Soprano with his counseling? That was mild in relationship to what you will need to do to get to really know yourself.

    Scared yet? You should be. It will be the toughest thing you have ever done in your life. But, it will be worth it.
    Inside every good man, there is a good woman.

  7. #7
    Junior Member OKPink's Avatar
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    I am a licensed therapist. The advice to change counselors if you are not getting your needs was spot on. Many therapists are well meaning people, but many also bring biases and ignorance to the sessions. Do not be afraid to find a new counselor if at anytime you do not feel your best interest is at the heart of the sessions.
    You can also expect, that a poorly trained therapist will try to dwell on Frued, and figure out "why" you cross-dress.
    Any therapy that is focused on "why" and the past, is a modality that will not take you into the future. Older therapists still seem fixated on "the past" and resolving these "issues" even though research into change shows these old ideas are ineffective.
    Look for a therapist specifically with training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction or similar approaches. Look for a therapist, that is present focused rather than filling billable hours by re-living the past. Look for a therapist that understands "contextual psychology" and a therapist that is a teacher.
    If in the sessions with your wife, they stir up dissention rather than looking for common gound and building on strengths despite differences, move on.
    lastly, although all therapists are imperfect, look for one who appears to have something you want. This person will be a mentor to you in many ways, and so if you cannot percieve yourself as learning form the person- time to move on.
    A therapist who does not do therapy, and refers to medication as a first line intervention should be avioded. Medication does not "fix" crossdressing, after all, nothing is broken.
    I think therapy can be helfpul. But after 25 years of being in this profession, I also see it as filled with caution.
    Last edited by OKPink; 11-13-2011 at 07:22 PM. Reason: lousy typing

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    Member cdsara's Avatar
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    how do you find one that has experience in this without openly asking them over the phone? Or is that how it should be done? I am starting therapy soon and I am concerned that they may not have any experience! What should we ask?

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    Aspiring Member Alberta_Pat's Avatar
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    Sara, there is no reason you cannot ask over the phone. They will know who can deal with the situation best, and you may be directed to another office.

    Call anonymously, ask the question, and if the answer seems right to you, book an appointment.
    Inside every good man, there is a good woman.

  10. #10
    Isn't Life Grand? AllieSF's Avatar
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    TGSara. As said above, you should ask the questions before the first session. If you have a child that has a problem, you normally want one that handles a lot of children cases, and asking is the correct way to find one. The same applies for us. Another way of finding them is to contact local health services and ask for someone with TG therapy experience. There also in larger cities LGBT groups who probably have some members who are in therapy and have experience with local qualified therapists. Doing a search for members in your area on urnotalone.com could also bring up contact info for local support groups that would be able to make recommendations. Surprisingly there actually is a lot of qualified support out there if we can find it.

  11. #11
    Junior Member OKPink's Avatar
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    Counselors often have certain types of clients they prefer working with AND those they do not. Asking on the phone is the right thing to do, it will give an honest counselor a chance to refer you to someone who will work better with you. There are certain types of clients I always refer, and I have a network of people I know are better with some types of clients. You can also gauge response and acceptance by asking on the phone. Don't read too much into a phone response, since you are not seeing them eye-to0eye, but you will KNOW if it is not going to work by this phone call if they are not cd/ts "educated". Also, many counselors DO like working with these issues, a business card or website will often state they address these issues. Look for a therapist that advertises as such.
    Ask on the phone, counselors LIKE this.

  12. #12
    Swans have more fun! sandra-leigh's Avatar
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    I've been seeing a gender therapist for... gosh, two years?

    The extent to which my gender therapist has "pushed" me towards becoming a woman is this: she has recommended more than once that I override my wife's wishes and remove my facial hair, as it is her view that that is about the only thing that really "gives me away". I have not gone along with that recommendation: one makes compromises in a relationship. (Besides, I already know it isn't The Big Tell... far far far too many people have recognized me at a distance, in bad light, when I've been closely shaven and using foundation.)

    But that's it: laser is the only "push" she has given me. Other, that is, than to ask "How do you want to live?"

  13. #13
    Aspiring Artist Kelly DeWinter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tgsara View Post
    how do you find one that has experience in this without openly asking them over the phone? Or is that how it should be done? I am starting therapy soon and I am concerned that they may not have any experience! What should we ask?
    Transparency on your part is key to a sucessfull councieling or therapy. Think of it this way, when you take your car to a mechanic, do you only tell them half of the noises or problems your car has ? The more information you give the better the 'service' If it doesent work, you will never see them again anyway.
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  14. #14
    Loving my femme side tifftg's Avatar
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    I was fortunate to find a therapist who had a lot of experience with CD and TG issues. At first I took her acceptance as a push to dress more. It was not, rather it was an exploration of my real needs and desires. It was marvelously helpful and I owe her a lot in terms of my working through some challenging times. I checked out some of the local groups in my city and found her name. I went the first two sessions as a Jane Doe and then as I gained trust have shared everything. Good luck, enter this openly and you will be pleased.

  15. #15
    Crossdresser Taylor186's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elizabethamy View Post
    I want to know where this came from and where it's going
    From my personal experience with counselors--both gender savvy and not--these two answers you seek almost certainly will not be found through therapy.
    Last edited by Taylor186; 11-14-2011 at 08:33 AM.

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    Member cdsara's Avatar
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    Do you think it is usually easier to talk to a male or female counselor?

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    Crossdresser Taylor186's Avatar
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    I've seen only one gender therapist--a women--and she was great. That said, she really specialized in transitioners or questioning transitioners whereas I was a not-interested-in transitioning crossdresser and she was less savvy regarding my situation.

    [edit] Have you read, "the transgendered philosopher"? I have given this article to two non-gender counselors and they both admitted that they were enlightened by it. It's about crossdressing and can be found here: The Transgendered Philosopher
    Last edited by Taylor186; 11-14-2011 at 09:01 AM.

  18. #18
    Aspiring Member elizabethamy's Avatar
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    Taylor, thank you for the reading recommendation...one concern my wife and I have is finding good things to read. She's a little freaked by the pornish nature of much of what one finds when one googles for crossdressers, etc.

    I have had therapists before, for several different issues, though I've never broached (and only recently understood) the gender issues I have. But I have found that male therapists seem more inclined to tell you what to do and to focus on topics that are of interest to them more than on what you want discussed. So this time I have asked a woman therapist to work with me, and we shall see! It has been a very interesting two years of secrecy, followed by an unbelievable four days of being open with my wife. now awaiting the therapists' call, and also the auto repair shop...

    elizabethamy

    elizabethamy

  19. #19
    Swans have more fun! sandra-leigh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor186 View Post
    From my personal experience with counselors--both gender savvy and not--these two answers you seek almost certainly will not be found through therapy.
    I agree with Taylor that "where it came from" will probably never be known. In a small portion of cases, there is a link to sexual or psychological abuse as a child, and it might be possible to trace back to something like that, but watch out for "false memory syndrome".

    A fair number of people here have posted about how it started "because" an aunt didn't have clean male clothes available, or "because" their sister used to dress them up, or similar events. Some people manage to trace back to "the first time", but what is missing in such traces is Why did you like it?. What "caused" you to be the kind of person who enjoys cross-dressing? And that has no known answers.

    If your dressing is not an outcome of childhood abuse, then, really, it is not productive to try to figure out "why". Your enjoyment of dressing now is a fact, and the big question is "What do you want to do about it?". Even if you did, after a number of sessions, somehow manage to figure out "why" (e.g., you took an FMRI test and determined that your brain is physically different), the big question would be exactly the same, "What do you want to do about it?".

    I should not, however, be too fast to totally dismiss the "why": in particular, if you are seeing physical changes in yourself, such as breast development, then it is a good idea to get such things checked out: it might be due to one of the "known unknowns" (a minimum of 25% of males develop some amount of gynecomastia as they get older, and no-one knows why), or it might be due to a real physical problem that should be treated, such as some kinds of cancer. Getting your liver and kidney and hormone levels checked, and perhaps PSA as well, would be a generally good idea.

    The internal pressure to know "Why?!?" can be quite strong: moving on from that to "Okay, what now?" can be a very important step in therapy.

    "Where is it going?": therapy can help resolving that, to at least get you comfortable for a time. But cross-dressing does have a way of "building up", and one might think that one understands it for a few decades, only to suddenly one day discover that It's Back And It Wants More Of You.

    Some of the members here have sworn that they are only "at home" cross-dressers, and never ever even want to go out... and then have suddenly "cracked" and gone out in public just a few days later and afterwards say "I was wrong about never going out, and what took me so long to realize it??"

    "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future." -- Niels Bohr
    Last edited by sandra-leigh; 11-15-2011 at 08:02 PM. Reason: typos

  20. #20
    Aspiring Member elizabethamy's Avatar
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    Well, the first therapy session has come and gone. Thanks for all your advice, which helped a lot. Connections were made between other aspects of my life and the CD desires...she posed the question of what would happen if somehow I took Testosterone and, theoretically, it made the desire go away...would you really want that? she asked. She's smart...knows that what we are doing is trying to figure out what the unconscious wants to tell me, and then we'll figure out what to do about it. I feel really good about this path. She promised not to lay any preconceived agendas on me (stop, take hormones, transition, etc) and I promised (based on your advice) to be completely honest with her. It's a great start, with your help.

  21. #21
    Aspiring Member Pamela Kay's Avatar
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    My situation is very similar to yours, I have a cousin who worked in the mental health field for many years and she is setting me up with a gender therapist she knows (a woman). I told her I would prefer a woman since my doctor and other health care providers are women and I feel more comfortable with women in general. I have been on testosterone injections for low T for several years. It may have reduced the feeling for awhile but didn't stop it. I am waiting for her to call me back when she has the appointment set up and I will see what happens. I have not told my wife since I am still mostly in the closet and don't know where this path is leading and I don't know how to explain to her what I can't explain to myself.
    Last edited by Pamela Kay; 11-15-2011 at 07:19 PM.
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