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Navigating Gender Questioning: How Therapy Can Help

Susan Halsey - Writer for Top10
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A same sex couple getting answers from a therapist.
Have you ever felt like you’re trying to solve a puzzle about yourself, but the pieces don’t seem to fit? What if there was a place where you could explore your true self without judgment?

Questioning your gender identity can feel like a complex maze of uncertainties and societal pressures. Both in-person and online therapy services offer support for those figuring out their gender identity. Counselors can provide guidance and understanding during this time of self-discovery.

As a clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience, I've helped many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) clients examine their thoughts and feelings freely.

Embracing who you truly are can be as daunting as it's liberating. Through this guide, I'll show you how therapy can help you navigate gender questioning.

» Do you have questions about your gender? Try these online therapy services for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Gender Questioning Challenges and the Need for Therapy

Sex is defined by biological attributes in humans and animals, distinguishing male and female. The term gender encompasses socially constructed roles, behaviors, and identities, including those who identify as "gender diverse." Gender questioning involves uncertainty about your sexual orientation or gender identity.

LGBTQIA+ individuals often face mental health problems like depression and anxiety due to societal discrimination, pressure to conform to rigid gender norms, and systemic oppression. This external non-acceptance and comparison can lead to feelings of isolation and trauma.

Therapy and online chat services can help you:

  • Deal with any confusion and challenges
  • Accept yourself amidst societal pressures
  • Explore the reasons behind gender questioning
  • Understand the potential consequences of being gender diverse
  • Manage related challenges in a non-judgmental setting
  • Articulate your thoughts, feelings, and fears about your gender identity
  • Build a support network by connecting you with friends, family members, and communities
  • Find accredited apps that provide guided meditations, mindfulness exercises, and physical activities to help you connect with your body and manage stress

Therapeutic Techniques for Navigating Gender Questioning

Therapists use various techniques to help individuals manage emotions, negative thought patterns, and social situations related to gender questioning. Some methods you may encounter in therapy include:

  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): This type of talking therapy teaches skills to handle stress, manage emotions, and improve relationships.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT modifies dysfunctional thoughts and encourages changing destructive behavior patterns.
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT): MBCT aims to prevent depression relapse through psychological treatment.
  • Exposure therapy: This method helps you confront and overcome your fears through exposure.
  • Art therapy: This creative process aids you in exploring self-expression and, in doing so, identifying new ways to cope with and heal from various challenges.
  • Relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery can help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Journaling: Writing about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences helps document your journey and serves as a therapeutic tool. Counselors may provide self-help exercises or recommend workbooks and worksheets to aid gender exploration between sessions.
  • Role-playing: This allows you to safely explore different aspects of your gender identity in a supportive environment.

Online vs. In-Person Therapy for Gender Questioning

Consider the pros and cons of online vs. in-person therapy to know what to expect. Online therapy providers like Pride Counseling and Calmerry are accessible and convenient for those unable to attend in-person sessions due to geographical or physical limitations. They also expand your choice of therapists beyond your local area.

However, online therapy may limit non-verbal cues that are more apparent in face-to-face sessions. Also, consider your internet connectivity and level of technology competency when deciding. Additionally, details about the costs of online therapy vs. in-person sessions should also impact your decision.

Still, telehealth interventions can assist at-risk groups like LGBTQIA+ individuals in managing stressful situations and accessing vital support from affirming communities, especially when they cannot change their existing offline surroundings. Other advantages include:

  • Flexible scheduling: Online therapy presents appointments at times that suit you best.
  • Diverse communication options: 24/7 messaging, live chat, phone, and video sessions are available, depending on the platform you use.
  • Comfort of familiar surroundings: You can conduct sessions in your preferred environment, which can help you feel more at ease.
  • Anonymity: Online therapy offers a degree of anonymity, which may be beneficial if you're not ready to openly discuss your gender questions.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Services like Cerebral and similar alternatives often cost less than in-person sessions, as there are no added office space expenses.

» Familiarize yourself with these 10 tips before starting online therapy.

Embrace Your Gender Identity With Online Therapy

Therapy offers a secure place for you to explore your gender identity. Online counseling, in particular, lets you comfortably express your feelings and concerns about your gender without worry of being judged.

These platforms and their counselors can help you handle emotions and give you anger management techniques. They're there to support you, providing resources and helping you on your journey toward self-discovery and self-acceptance.

» Find out how affirmative therapy helps LGBTQIA+ members accept themselves.

Susan Halsey - Writer for Top10
With 20+ years of experience as a licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Susan Halsey specializes in anxiety, mood disorders, ADHD, relationships, and sports psychology. She's a certified soccer coach and champions mental wellness through exercise and support networks.

The author of this article has been paid by Natural Intelligence to write this article. Neither the author nor Natural Intelligence provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or your local emergency number immediately.