Hi there. I am a genderqueer person in graduate school for mental health to become an LCPC. I am worried that having a gender identity that is incoherent to most others will lessen my ability to build a therapeutic alliance with a wide range of clients. I am worried I will not be effective outside of a very narrow community. I have thought about trying to live as more clearly female or male, but this idea is uncomfortable to me. I feel the answer I keep getting is that I have to be myself to create an authentic relationship, but I think that answer ignores the reality that expressing a genderqueer sense of self often confuses most people and impedes building relationships very often. Yikes. What do you think???Genderqueer Aspiring LCPC
Genderqueer Aspiring LCPC
One of the many challenges of being an effective therapist is the task of relating to many, many kinds of people. Those who come to see us for help are of numerous cultural, sexual, racial and economic groups/identities. And yet — one of the fascinating things about the human condition is that we have much in common in spite of our differences.
I’ve been working as an advice columnist for over 10 years. I’m regularly struck by how little it matters if someone is writing from Dubai or Hong Kong or Australia or anywhere in Europe or the U.S. The problems people bring to us at the “Ask the Therapist” column are often very much the same.
As therapists we can’t be limited in our capacity to relate and be empathetic with only people who share our own identities. Instead, we reach to the shared experience of being human in both our joys and our pains. Rather than concerning yourself with how your clients will relate to you, your job is to work on how you will relate to your clients. Your clients will not be concerned about how you generally live your life. Indeed, they won’t and shouldn’t know much about it. They will be concerned about how present you can be for them in the hour you share. Focus on developing your skills so you can use that hour well.
I wish you well.