Thursday, 26 August 2010

Counseling for my wife

    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.

7 comments:

  1. Jenny,
    I'm not a gender therapist, but I have slept in a Holiday Inn(an American joke :-)), and I say follow YOUR heart, because that's where you live. Never ever say never.

    Melissa XX

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  2. I'm very glad your wife felt it was worth it, and I do hope she benefits from the sessions on offer, even if she has to bring up that distinction between gender and sexuality... hmmm!!

    I'll post this here just in case anyone is seeking similar services. I know of a therapist in the Exeter, Devon area called Lynda Quick, who specializes in gender dysphoria. Here's the link:

    http://www.lyndaquickcounselling.co.uk/

    (disclosure: I'm not her client but I know of her in another capacity).

    It sounds like the NHS has, as ever, got some catching-up to do re. the choice to not transition, at least while you follow that choice. I'd be remiss if I didn't gently echo Melissa's comment about following your heart. Love to you.

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  3. Jenny I'm glad for you that your wife was able to see a therapist. I'm having a difficult time getting my wife to see someone. She has joined me on several visits but I think she needs her own therapist. The therapy does help.
    Hugs Elly

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  4. Jenny
    I got to catch up on your posts, it seems things have moved on for you, go for ir girl

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  5. @Lucy: I had better apologise for being prolific then.

    Good to see you back.

    @Melissa: I think my problem stems from the fact I *am* following my heart, and trying to ignore my head! :)

    It's not as simple as saying never, as I'm sure you'll appreciate. It's a downward slope, and at times someone's oiled it. If we are to hang in there for each other both Mrs. J and I have to make whatever efforts we can. We could easily have parted ways by now but neither of us wanted that.

    Mrs. J reads this blog and the comments made on it, I'm sure when she reads this she'll understand what I'm saying.

    @Josie: I think the therapist's previous trans patients might have introduced talk of sexuality, hence her bringing it up here. With luck she'll have moved on from that topic by the time Mrs. J sees her again.

    @Elly: I agree it's *so* important for the spouse of a trans person to see a therapist, no matter what the outcome. Sadly though it's the spouse's choice. I'm glad Mrs. J has gone for this.

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  6. You've mentioned before that you have a support group; do they have a group for spouses? The group I met with in Charlotte always had wives of some members at the meetings. My group in Virginia has a function every month just for spouses and significant others. Sometimes it helps to have others to talk to who are in similar circumstances, and that's as true for spouses as for us.

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  7. I fully agree, it's vitally important for our other 'arves to talk. It saddens me when I encounter wives who lock it out, I believe they could benefit from contact with others.

    Our support group is a little small to have a group specially for spouses, though there are several other spouses both male and female who attend. So Mrs. J certainly has the opportunity to talk should she need it.

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