- Struggling because the way you feel inside doesn't match the body you are in?
- Or as you don't know where you sit on the gender spectrum?
- Or sure of your gender, but stressed and anxious from navigating a world that seems to constantly question your choice?
Gender identity and mental health
When we don’t know who we are we can struggle to be at ease around others, or keep making life decisions that don’t suit us. The end result can be loneliness, depression and anxiety.
And if our identity issue involves gender, it can feel even more complicated. Despite recent advances in gender education we can still face rejection and discrimination in our efforts to just be ourselves.
Benefits of gender identity counselling
Working with a mental health practitioner who specialises in gender support means:
- A non judgemental and confidential environment to discuss your thoughts, feelings, worries and fears.
- Developing coping strategies for stressful situations like discrimination.
- Learning communication skills for navigating difficult conversations with family, colleagues, friends and partners.
- Being supported with ‘coming out’, transitioning, and with medical interventions, should you choose that route.
- Help for connected mental health issues like anxiety, depression, addictions, and disordered eating.
- A safe space to explore private things like sex, relationship problems, body worries, and gender assignment surgery, as well as non gender-related issues.
Gender identity support at Harley Therapy™ in London
At Harley Therapy we connect you with highly experienced, warm, and welcoming mental health professionals that see you as an individual, not a label or diagnosis. Our therapists tailor their work to suit you, and are happy to use terms and descriptors that you are comfortable with.
As well as psychologists and psychotherapists, we also have psychiatrists on our team, should you need other support.
Gender identity issues
Your sex is assigned to you at birth, based on your genitals. Gender, on the other hand, is about how you are supposed to then act, given the expectations your society and culture places on each sex.
Not everyone is ‘binary’, fitting the idea that there are only two genders and that being born with female genitals makes you a ‘woman’, and male genitals a ‘man’. You could, for example, have female genitals and breasts but connect with the male gender, choosing to identify as ‘transgender’. Or you might feel that you are not one gender or the other, and identity as gender fluid, gender diverse, non binary, or pangender. Some people don't feel any gender, and use the term 'agender'.
Intersex and gender confusion
Sex isn’t always binary either, which can also affect your gender identity. Some children grow up knowing they are intersex, a natural biological variation which means you have mixed sexual and/or reproductive anatomy, or chromosomes that don’t make you one sex or the other. Others find out around adolescence, which is already a confusing time for many people.
What is gender dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria means that your struggles to understand your gender identity are causing you distress, and affecting your ability to cope.
It’s isn't a mental health disorder. If anything, it’s a reasonable response to a disordered world that can still be far from accepting and fair about gender choices.
But it is important to take gender dysphoria seriously as it can lead to other mental health issues, such as:
- anger issues
- anxiety and stress
- eating disorders
- low self-esteem
- suicidal thinking.
What is a session of gender identity counselling like?
During a first session, your therapist will ask about your life history, your mental health struggles, and the things you'd like some support with.
From there, individual sessions tend to involve your therapist listening carefully to you as you voice what you are struggling with, then posing just the right questions to help you find the ways you'd like to move forward. Depending on what therapeutic approach your therapist works with, your sessions can involve looking at past issues informing your present, or practical exercises to help you combat negative thinking and self-sabotaging behaviours.
Ready to be you?
Ready to understand yourself, and feel at more at ease with who you are? Or better navigate life's challenges?
Call us today or complete our online booking form for a confidential first session with one of our highly experienced gender counsellors in the City of London, Canary Wharf, Harley Street or London Bridge. We look forward to helping you.
Further reading on gender identity
- Gender Explorers (2020) by Juno Roche.
- Transgender History (2017) by Susan Stryker.
- Trans Teen Survival Guide (2018) by Owl and Fox Fisher.
- Trans Body, Trans Selves: a Resource for the Transgender Community (2014) edited by Laura Erickson Schroth.
- Beyond the Gender Binary (2020) by Alok Vaid Menon.
- What it's Like to be Intersex, video featuring Roshaante Andersen.
- What is gender dysphoria? article.
Issues suited to Gender Identity Support:
- confusion about gender
- coming out as non-binary or transgender
- feeling like you don't belong
- learning you are intersex
- dealing with unaccepting family and colleagues
- body image issues
- uncertainties about transitioning
- sexual anxiety or problems
- depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem
- relationship issues
- trauma from bullying, stigma, and transphobia
- addictions and substance abuse.
What is the best therapy for gender dysphoria?
The best therapy for gender dysphoria is initially talking therapy, during which you explore your feelings. You can decide with your therapist if hormone treatment and surgery is suitable.
Does psychotherapy help with gender dysphoria?
Psychotherapy can help with gender dysphoria by exploring your ideas and feelings about gender and your discomfort. It can also help you prepare to transition if that’s what you decide.
Is gender identity therapy available in London?
Gender identity therapy is available in London, from both NHS and private practices. Many people with gender dysphoria prefer to use private therapists to avoid lengthy NHS waiting lists.
Can a regular therapist diagnose gender dysphoria?
A general therapist can diagnose gender dysphoria, but the patient often knows they have it already. For the best results, a therapist who specialises in gender dysphoria is best.