Episode #66: 7 Questions to Ask Yourself After Your 1st Therapy Session

Dr. Connie Omari:

Hello, I’m Dr. Connie. Oh Mari. And I want to first congratulate you; you have had your first therapy session. And that is fantastic. It is really hard to do what you have just done. So I just want to make sure that you know that I’m taking time now to praise you for a job well done. Okay, good job. All right. So as we proceed, I want to make sure that you transition into your therapy practice feeling as good as possible. And to do that, you want to make sure you’ve got the right thing and that this is the right time for you to begin therapy. So I have seven questions.

Okay, I need you to ask yourself to confirm whether or not you’re doing what you need to do at this time. Question number one: Did I feel comfortable? How did you feel about your therapist? Do you know how important it is? To make sure that the feeling that you have, even if you were feeling sad, depressed, anxious, whatever it was that brought you to your therapy appointment, Even those ties were still present. But how? What does your gut tell you about the fit and your ability to be helped by your provider? That’s really important to ask yourself. Okay, so that’s question number one. Question number two: Did the therapist seem genuine? Okay. We’re trained in so many different approaches. And one of the biggest criticisms that I had in the therapy field is that a lot of times, people identify themselves as generalists.

And I don’t think that’s a horrible thing if you really are great. But sometimes, when we identify ourselves as generalists, we’re unable to work with people who have specific issues, and I think the more specific you can be, the better off you’ll be. You know, I wouldn’t want to go to a cardiologist for my annual pap smear, right? So you want to make sure that the therapist that you’ve worked with knows how to work with you. And that’s often going to be kind of day, through how genuine they express themselves about their abilities to be able to support you and you wanting to make sure that they’re there for the right motives? And not necessarily for a check or because they don’t have anything else to do, certainly not if they’re burnt out with their career. Okay. So did your therapist feel genuine? Was the therapist fully present? That’s question number three. That’s important, because, you know, let me tell you, I’m just going to spill the beans for the therapists who are listening to us; we have issues too. But there are certainly ways and strategies that we’re supposed to be presenting to the session that help us put those on the back burner so that we can be as present as possible for you. So you want to make sure that your therapist is not scrolling through Facebook. You know, sometimes she might have taken notes or something like that. But you want to make sure that their primary attention was on mute and that they weren’t distracted by other things going on.

Question number four: Was the therapist open to your questions? So hopefully, you did have questions for your therapist. If you didn’t, that’s okay. But you know what? Let me get back to that. Because even if you didn’t have maybe standardized formal questions, hopefully there was something that you felt was important to get a second opinion on or to discuss with your therapist in our first session. If it wasn’t, that might be a sign about your comfort level. Because at least you should have been able to bring some insight into even the very first point. So, you know, where’s the therapist open to the pair of therapists having the answer? And did the therapist guide the whole process because this is a team effort? So you should have had an opportunity to connect with your therapist and get insight from her while also expressing your concerns. Do the off-duty therapists offer unrealistic promises? That’s question number five; you know, nothing is 100%. Okay, even when you’re doing physical health practices, they’ll say, Like this study has, you know, been tested in this with 99% accuracy, or something like that, even the most positive intervention interventions are considered 99% effective. So I’m a big fan of therapy. I’ve been doing this for many, many years.

So I do think it is an effective form of treatment. But if anybody tells you that, oh, when you’re done, you’re going to be 100% cured or you’re never going to, you know, experience these symptoms, Again, I don’t think that’s very reliable. So you want to make sure that they set realistic expectations for you and that you feel comfortable with those expectations. Okay, quite. At number six, did I feel abnormally uncomfortable around this stranger? That’s important because you know we are complete strangers to you; chances are, you don’t know us from a canopy, and you’ve probably never even seen us before we began the therapeutic experience. So it will be a little bit unrealistic, but it’s okay to expect yourself to feel like you’re talking to a home girl or you know your best friend; you should have felt comfortable—I would say more comfortable than you would with the average stranger, certainly not less comfortable. Okay, no matter how difficult your issues are, you should have at the very least felt as comfortable with them as you do with most strangers. But hopefully, the goal is that you feel a little bit more comfortable because you’re going to be talking to therapists about some of the most personal things that you may or may not have even been able to share with anyone. Okay, so that’s important to take into consideration.

And last but certainly not least, ask yourself, Did I instinctively feel comfortable around your therapist? Your instinct is very important. And for people who have suffered from trauma, in general, we should learn how to work with our instincts. But trauma work is very, very important. A lot of people who come to our practice are there for that purpose. We want you to learn how to rely on your instincts if you don’t already, to give you the best indicators of danger, happiness, safety, and things like that. So that instinct is there for a reason. Hopefully, it led you to have positive feelings about your very first appointment with your therapist. If not, that’s something to look into. Alright, so these are seven questions that we hope can help guide you after your first therapy appointment. If you’d like to try it out and incorporate it into our practice, then we will be more than happy to invite you to come aboard when you’re done. Please ask yourself these questions. All right.