Tuesday, September 6, 2011


For the past few weeks, I have been trying to write a suitable introductory post and mission statement. And it seemed easy enough: just write my goals for the blog. Writing goals? So easy! I want to write shorter posts. I want to focus upon counseling/psychotherapy specific topics. I want to make the blog palatable to a larger audience, which I thought I could do by limiting my emotional introspection and instead focusing upon theories and ideas with greater appeal and wider relevance. Who could ask for anything more?

So I started writing trial content. And although I made progress towards most of my goals, every post was still riddled with personal information. I tried to orient myself towards external postulation, but I invariably reverted to introspection. And the more I chastised myself for writing about "yet another facet of my depression," the more I realized: that is exactly what I should be writing about.

It is who I am. It is what I do. And to try to hide or mitigate it is as counterproductive as it is futile.

I started my Counseling Psychology program three weeks ago. And I, in typical form, did not try to censor or hide parts of myself in the process. I used a syringe for my "get to know me" item (symbolizing not just my gender transition, but that pain and sacrifice in the name of greater progress is a core part of my identity). I said, "I am angry, irritable, and not the person I feel I want to be" for my first weekly check-in. Without blinking in groups of almost-strangers, I talked about being trans, being suicidal, coming from an arguably abusive home, being anorexic, being depressed, etc etc.

And I worried about it. I talked to my therapist about feeling alienated, feeling as if I was over-exposing myself, revealing too much, making others needlessly uncomfortable. And she, playing devil's advocate, asked me: Well, why do I do it?

I do it because what kind of therapist would I be, what kind of world would I promote if I succumb to the societal mental illness stigmas, the transphobia, the emotional repressions I will urge my clients time and time again to subvert and defy? I will tell my clients that their depression is nothing to be ashamed of. But how can I ethically do that when I am ashamed of my own depression? I will tell my clients that their gender identity is what they identify as, regardless of how they're read. So how can I then unquestioningly persist in  defining myself based upon how others read me? I will tell me clients that all people have value. But what impact can that statement have when I feel I, personally have none.

How can I? I can't. Or, at least, I shouldn't if I'm going to be the best psychotherapist and social justice advocate that I can be. And although I should not expect myself to transform overnight (the same patience I should show my clients), I should not, would not ever accept stagnation and preventative fear as alternatives to growth.

So. What *will* you find in this blog? Certainly, I will try to write more focused posts. I will engage in perpetual discussions about the ethics and practice of psychotherapy. I will strive for accessibility to larger audiences.

But you'll also find a lot of unhealthy and problematic cognitions and behaviors. You'll find unrelenting "overshares," incessant challenging of the notion of "overshare," and emotional/philosophical morasses. You'll find not just my ideas, not just my feelings, not just my changes but my ever-evolving perpetually flawed self.

In short, you'll find a transparent personal blog about and by a damaged but empathetic budding counseling psychologist. And perhaps you'll find a bit of yourself too.

And that's what empathy's all about, right?

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