Have you ever wondered if it’s okay to ask your therapist about their life? Do you hold back in therapy because you’re not sure if you can ask a certain question? Are you stuck feeling uncertain about how you’re doing in therapy?
In this episode, Nathan and Aaron answer all these questions and more as they share how they handle these as therapists.
In This Episode
- Questions you wish you could ask your therapist
- What you wish you could say to your therapist (but don’t know how)
- Practical therapy process Q&A
Questions you wish you could ask your therapist
- Can I ask about you or how you’re doing? Why did you go into this field?
- Of course! These are good questions to find out from your therapist and aren’t too personal
- Am I annoying to you? Do you get frustrated with me? Are you secretly judging me over there?
- Most people are looking for feedback about themselves, so this can be a great opportunity for open conversation
- Sometimes it’s not about you but just about the fit between therapist and client
- Do you like me as a person?
- We are all looking for acceptance, especially from a therapist with whom we share vulnerable things with. This is a great question!
- Am I just paying you to care? Do you really care?
- You’re paying for competent treatment for an issue. Caring and patience and empathy are bonuses that each therapist brings to the relationship, and is more a reflection of our heart and why we do what we do for a career.
- Am I a good client?
- Another great question to ask to open up a dialogue about what this means to you (to be a “good” client)!
- What do you write down?
- This is a very common question. We’re writing down what is happening in the session, often actual quotes you say, so we can refer back to them in context and track where we’re going.
- Do you struggle with this same issue?
- People often ask this question to find out if we’re human just like you are. We are. Therapists will answer depending on how comfortable they are sharing about themselves, which can be helpful to normalize an issue or give you an idea of how someone else (a therapist) handles it.
- I’m afraid of getting too attached to you and needing you. Is this normal?
- I’m afraid if I get too attached, I could get hurt. Is this normal?
- This, and the previous question, are connected. Becoming attached to your therapist is normal and can help you become more open in session. The therapist’s goal, however, is to help you grow and develop skills to be able to manage issues on your own so that you don’t need our help anymore.
- It’s also normal to feel afraid of getting hurt when you are connected to someone with such vulnerability.
- Why do you ask “how can I help you today”?
- It’s important for you to think through and determine what your needs are. If you aren’t sure, that’s okay. Start a conversation with your therapist about it so you can work together to identify what you need or what would be helpful for you.
What you wish you could say to your therapist (but don’t know how)
- I don’t really like it when you____.
- This is challenging to do because it feels like confronting your therapist about something about him/her. It can also feel like you’re challenging their authority.
- It’s important to say these kinds of things to your therapist, respectfully and with openness, because you are expressing what you don’t like or clarifying what you need. This can improve the effectiveness, collaboration, and relationship in therapy.
- I wish you would _____ more. That would be really helpful to me.
- Similar to the previous statement, this one expresses a need or a request of your therapist in order to better meet your needs. This is important in guiding your therapist to make the process better for you.
- Something you said last session really upset/hurt/offended me.
- This is so hard to do but so helpful! Therapists are people, too, and sometimes don’t realize when they’ve said something hurtful or when they’ve misunderstood or misjudged you. Giving this feedback clarifies who you are and are not, so that your therapist can make an adjustment and see you more accurately.
- It can also be a moment of conflict, which becomes an opportunity for growth and deeper connection between you two.
Practical therapy process Q&A
- What are you supposed to do each session? Are you supposed to have an agenda or know what to talk about?
- Some people do come in with an agenda, others just share what’s been going on that week. Both are helpful, and a good therapist knows how to use both approaches to work toward your goals. The important part is to know which is more helpful for you, the client.
- What do you do between sessions? How do you prepare? Should you?
- It’s always good to think about what was discussed in session during the week or to practice skills you learned outside of session. This helps you gain a deeper understanding of an issue, your struggle with it, or where you might be needing more guidance.
- How do you know if you’re making progress in therapy?
- Ask your therapist! He or she can give you feedback on where you started, what you’ve worked on, and what improvements you’ve made.
- You can also ask your therapist to define goals or milestones more clearly so you have a better understanding of what you’re working on and what it would look like to achieve those goals.
- Sign up for our free email course, 9 Ways To Overcome Fear & Self-Doubt, that will guide you through our process of facing fears and insecurities so that you can feel more comfortable in your own skin
- Aaron also wrote a two-part blog series on the Q&A topics recently. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 on his website.
Thanks for Listening!
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Meet Nathan & Aaron
Nathan Hawkins and Aaron Potratz are both licensed therapists and clinical supervisors in the state of Oregon. They each own their own private group counseling practices and co-own a third group practice together. Nathan and Aaron have been in the field since 2004 and 2007, respectively, and have over 100,000 hours of therapy experience each. On their show, they discuss facing fears and common challenges from a therapist’s point of view, imparting wisdom and humanity to their viewers. Along the way, they hope to not only share their insights but bring some light-hearted entertainment to make the journey easier.