I talk with a lot of people who call about services from our gender program, and many of them express annoyance that our program requires talking to a therapist before medically or surgically transitioning.
It is natural to question why programs like ours require this step. As the client, you ask yourself if the expenditure of time and money is worth it. What will time spent with a program psychotherapist provide for you that you don’t already have?
This is a serious question and deserves a serious response.
What Therapy Provides
Psychotherapy helps with many things, but one in particular is learning what is important
to you, and how to make decisions that follow and support your values. Could there be a more critical time than as you begin to transition to be making decisions based on values? I think not.
Who should you tell about your transition plans? Should you tell an employer before you take a job? Before or after a promotion? Should you tell extended family, children, neighbors?
How do you make those decisions if not from your values? For example, telling others of your transition…what is the impact on your partner or children? Jumping fully into living in your destination gender might sound like a great idea, but what will it do to your family? They are part of your life…do they deserve a vote on when and/or how you go about this process?
And what is your decision-making process? What kind of a communicator are you? Are you an extrovert (likely to think through decisions aloud with others) or an introvert (likely to consider possibilities quietly before involving others)? Are you someone who surrounds yourself with people who only agree with you, or do you welcome dissent? And if others disagree with your decisions, how do you go about resolving them?
Psychotherapy can help you to think through all of these questions.
The evaluation and assessment portion of our process helps you sort these things out…on-going work with your therapist will support you as you disclose to others and must deal with all of the consequences of those disclosures.
So yes, therapy matters in the process of transition. Therapy helps you know yourself. Therapy provides a place where you can consider all options with someone who supports you but is not vested in any particular outcome. Therapy is a safe, confidential, neutral time where you can explore your options before you make decisions.
And investing in you is always a good investment—not only for transition, but for life.