Yesterday my wife had her first session with the counselor at our local GP practice. She's been in the queue for a while, I guess it's a popular NHS service. What I'm about to say is second-hand through her, I believe it is worth relating here in case anyone else in a similar position to us is looking for a similar service.
The first thing my wife asked her was whether she had dealt with transgender issues before. It turned out that she had, though she didn't specify whether she'd previously had any patients who were married to one of us. Having read tales of people being sent to counselors with widely varying experience in the matter and even sometimes completely inappropriate specialties she wanted to be able to assess how useful the experience was likely to be.
As you might imagine the session was mostly spent going over my wife's background and the reasons for her seeking the counseling. My gender issues as they relate to her, and the aftermath of her recent cancer scare. Her life story, my life story, our relationship history. Probably pretty standard stuff for such a consultation. She tells me it was a very free flowing conversation rather than a structured question and answer session.
As a first appointment its purpose was explained by the counselor as mainly to help evaluate whether further counseling was appropriate or whether a referral to another therapy would be better. Again, it seems this is standard practice, she sees patients with a wide variety of issues.
The counselor seemed surprised by my wife's age, it seems her other trans patients have been older than us, and she spent a little too much time discussing sexuality for my wife's liking. If she returns to this theme my wife may have to gently put her right on the difference between gender and sexuality. My wife came away from the appointment feeling that it had been worth it. She has a course of further consultations lined up, I hope they will be of help to her.
As final point, you might ask where my counseling appointment had got to. It's true, there has been a marked contrast between the NHS reaction to me and to my wife, I've not been offered in-practice counseling. However I'd have to point out that though I've received a message of slight confusion at what to do with someone who wishes to avoid transition I am on a defined path and though it is a very slow one I would like to pursue it to its logical conclusion before I seek anything else.