You have questions? We have answers to the most common questions. Feel free to contact us if you have a burning question not covered here.
What will happen in the first session?
It’s perfectly normal and natural to feel nervous about your first counseling session, or your first session with a new therapist. We understand it takes a lot of courage to share your feelings and experiences with someone you just met. We will work together to identify and understand your concerns and develop a plan to make changes in your life. This process usually takes several sessions. We think of it as the “getting to know each other” stage of our new relationship. It’s a time for you to decide if the clinician is the right fit, and for the therapist to determine if they might be able to help you. This is a collaborative process, but ultimately you are in the driver’s seat.
Is this confidential?
Under Texas law, our conversations are confidential except under certain circumstances. We will discuss this at the outset of therapy, and we will make sure you understand the details of these exceptions in the first session before you begin counseling. It is often helpful to discuss your case with other professionals, and we may ask for your permission to do this.
How long will we be talking? How often?
Typically, a counseling session lasts 45 - 50 minutes. There may be exceptions to this, and we will make adjustments to meet your needs. We will decide together how often to meet. Usually, it’s best to meet weekly in the early stages. We like to transition our clients to biweekly and then monthly sessions as our work progresses.
How many sessions will I need?
The therapy process can range from one or two sessions to several months or longer, depending on the nature of the issues we are working to resolve. We do not set a minimum or maximum number of sessions and prefer to remain flexible based on your needs. You are the expert on you, and we believe you will know during the course of therapy when your issues are resolved or not. We will continually review your treatment goals and assess your progress to determine whether or not counseling should continue.
How will I know if we are a good fit?
We recommend that we give it at least two sessions to see if we mesh and if we both feel the therapist can help you. The first session is often focused on informed consents and other paperwork, and an initial understanding of what is happening in your life. From the second session onward we delve deeper into “the issues” and this is when we best know if we can work together. This is a collaborative process and we both need to feel comfortable proceeding. If not, we will be happy to discuss referral options to someone with whom you might feel more comfortable.
Does it really matter if my therapist is gay or gay-affirming?
Whether or not your therapist is gay or lesbian, if you are an LGBTQ individual seeking services it is extremely important to find a counselor who understands the issues you are facing. There are many "gay friendly" therapists who provide excellent care to LGBTQ clients. And some clients prefer to have a counselor who is themselves an actual member of the community. This is a deeply personal decision, and ultimately it is based on your level of comfort.
What are the WPATH Standards of Care?
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health has established internationally accepted Standards of Care (SOC) for the treatment of gender identity disorders and gender-related concerns. The overall goal of the SOC is to provide clinical guidance to assist transsexual, transgender, and gender nonconforming clients with safe and effective pathways to achieve lasting personal comfort with their gendered selves, in order to maximize their overall health, psychological well-being, and self-fulfillment. We strongly believe in WPATH, the SOC, and their ethical guidelines.
How do I get a letter for hormones or surgery?
We absolutely hate what is known as "toxic gatekeeping." We have no idea what "trans enough" looks like. None of our specialized training nor fancy office decor came with a yardstick by which to measure someone's lived experience to declare them "trans enough" to move forward with their transition. It is unfortunate that so many medical providers require letters for hormones. There are many informed-choice options available (Parkland Transgender Health Clinic, Planned Parenthood, Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Outreach Center (AOC), and number private clinics. We are more than happy to pass along those resources so you can avoid unnecessary treatment. When Wes does need to do an assessment for hormones or surgery, it can be done in one session. You may need to check with the surgeon to make sure an assessment is acceptable.
What about reparative therapy?
If you're considering coming out and/or accepting for yourself that you are LGBTQ, you likely have come across information regarding conversation or reparative therapy. This type of treatment, and we use that word loosely, continues to exist in the Metroplex. This is despite multiple lawsuits, claims of harm, and lack of success. This so-called treatment is based on research that is largely invalid. In fact, recent research shows that reparative therapy is extremely harmful and traumatic. If you are looking for a conversion or reparative therapist, we would strongly encourage you to at least meet with an LGBTQ-affirming therapist first so you can explore the benefits of living an authentic life and make an informed decision.
Do you prescribe medications?
No, medications are prescribed by medical doctors. We will help you monitor your medications to determine how well they are working. With your permission, we will work closely with your prescribing doctor to coordinate our treatment plans. As a best practice, medications for mental health reasons (“psychotropics”) are best prescribed by psychiatrists, as they have specialized and advanced training in medications that alter brain chemistry. In many cases, medications are also prescribed by general physicians, internists, and nurse practitioners. Regardless of who writes your script, we can work with you to coordinate treatment and monitor symptoms for maximum efficacy.
Can we do this over the phone? Skype?
In this digital age of too many commitments and not enough time, providing alternatives to in-person therapy can be crucial in delivering services. We are more than willing to discuss this on a case-by-case basis.
We know that the therapy process can be scary and uncertain. We are here to answer all of your questions and help you move on with your best life.