Unable To Identify The Issue Is Not About Identity

, , , | Healthy | May 22, 2019

(I am at a therapist’s office for my first appointment with her. She is not my first therapist, so I have a fairly good idea of what to look for. My name has a very common nickname — I’ll pretend it’s Katelyn and Kate — and people will often start using the nickname without thinking. I am called back to meet with her.)

Therapist: “So, Katelyn, do you prefer Katelyn or Kate?”

Me: “I don’t care; either is fine.”

Therapist: “But which one do you prefer?”

Me: “I mean, when I’m in a situation where there’s someone whose actual name is Kate, I prefer to use Katelyn so people don’t get confused. But other than that, I really don’t care.”

Therapist: “Your name is an important part of your self-identity. I want to respect that. Which name do you want me to use?”

Me: *quite frustrated by now* “I don’t care! Either one is fine! You can call me Kate, you can call me Katelyn, or you can switch back and forth; it doesn’t matter!

(She still didn’t get it. Somehow I made it through the rest of the appointment, but I never went back there. As a therapist, listening is a hugely important part of your job. If you won’t listen to me about something as simple as my name, I’m not going to trust you to listen to me at all.)

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