Access for All

Access for All

Tackling Therapy’s Biggest Challenge

By Lauren Dockett

May/June 2021

Denise is slumped in her chair, declaring that she’s not a believer in therapy. A middle-aged, Indigenous, transgender woman, she’s heard too many bullshit lines from therapist-types who insist they understand her struggles. They claim they have all kinds of knowledge and training they can use to soothe her pain. But they never really can.

The camera captures Denise’s frustration, along with her striped tank top and puka necklace, and the stark waiting-room wall behind her, with its off-the-rack modern art hanging askew. She looks directly into the lens and ticks off on her fingers the many issues all those professionals can never seem to grasp. “Do you know anything about being trans? Do you know anything about being Indigenous? Do you know anything about being on the streets? Or on drugs? Or losing everybody you’ve ever loved?” she asks. “Honestly, how the fuck can you help me?”

A professional counselor who’s just watched recorded footage of Denise from her computer at home responds. She’s similar in age to Denise, with dark hair curled to her shoulders in neat rows. Her own camera is angled upward toward her face, and we see not only the sherbet orange of the walls behind her, but also the white triangulating tops of doorframes and a ceiling. Haltingly, she begins, “Well, those are very good questions to ask…

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