If you find yourself thinking - my last session was a bust! Here's some tips on what to do.
Updated: Nov 23, 2022
I feel like this is a question that may come up for anyone seeing a counsellor / psychologist / therapist / coach. It can be a difficult subject to broach for many reasons - perhaps you are not comfortable enough with your therapist, don't want to hurt their feelings, were offended by something they said, maybe you felt the last session wasn't quite what you had hoped for. While I do not speak for anyone else, my hope is that I create an environment where we can have these discussions. If you feel that I was ineffective last session, it could be relevant to your therapy to discuss it, or it could be a learning experience for me. We all should be willing to grow within therapy, this means that I will not take offence to our discussion, especially if you feel something was said. I make it a top priority to keep my own bias out of therapy, this is NOT my hour, it is yours. So, if you feel that my agenda entered into a session this should not have happened and I want to know about it so that I don't make that mistake again. I think that we can often work together to figure out what happened, why it was misunderstood, and often that was all it was, and clarification will help you to understand the point, but also help me to make it clearer. There are times, though that you shouldn't discuss the situation with the therapist - if you felt unsafe in the environment, I certainly am not suggesting you return to have a discussion about it. If you felt like you and the counsellor were not the right fit - as in you just didn't feel comfortable disclosing personal information, then this would also be a situation perhaps to move on to the next counsellor. I do not expect that I will be the right counsellor for everyone, and I do believe this is important to therapy
Prior to Approaching the therapist, is there anything I should do?
Yes! I would encourage you to replay the session in your head - were they asking me a question that made me feel a certain way? Was it my feelings that I am attaching to the question / statement? Why am I having this feeling? Did I try to get what I could out of the session? Was there something else I could have done differently in order to make the session more helpful? Was I really open about my feelings in this situation? Did I explain what I was feeling? I think it is always important to evaluate ourselves withing the therapeutic setting, this is sometimes where growth occurs. When you are at home and something from the session pops into your head - stop, think about why that happened, what your feelings are around it, and why now? If you are still feeling unresolved, please read the table below, it may help. If you don't find your specific situation, please feel free to reach out to me - email@example.com if you have a question, I hope I can answer it.
What Questions Should I ask / How should I approach the situation?
Things to Consider
My last session felt super uncomfortable. I had a hard time bringing subjects up, and when I did I felt like they were shot down.
If you had previously built a relationship with this therapist and this was a unique day / situation - then I would say mention it to the therapist in your next session.
Something like: last time we met I felt like we were on two different pages, did you notice that? Was there something I said that made you uncomfortable?
Likely there was a misunderstanding that required clarification, or your therapist wasn't aware that had happened and you can have an open conversation about what may have occurred which could deepen your connection and understanding of each other.
Same question, but if you hadn't built a therapeutic relationship previously. Maybe this was a first session!? My last session felt super uncomfortable. I had a hard time bringing subjects up, and when I did, I felt like they were shot down.
If you hadn't previously built a connection, perhaps you were not the right fit!? You could email or call the therapist if you feel like it and discuss it. Or you can try a different therapist.
This is a situation where you can choose. Option 1 - you reach out and mention the last session to work through it. Option 2 - you reach out to get help finding a new counsellor.
Benefits of getting help to find a new counsellor - we are trained to understand what might work better for you, and know some colleagues who may be better suited to what your needs are.
We were talking about something and the therapist berrated me for my beliefs.
First of all, this should NOT happen. You should never feel attacked in therapy, and you should never feel like we are judging your beliefs. I would be inclined to find a different provider; however, I encourage you to reach out and tell them of their bias, and that you felt it was inappropriate.
Like I said - I would encourage you to let that person know that you felt that they were judging your beliefs which made you feel like you could no longer have open dialogue. This is a legitimate reason to end that therapeutic relationship.
Why should you tell them? This should be brought to their attention so that it doesn't happen again, because our biases should not be part of therapy.
I didn't get enough tools from my last session, and was really hoping for some.
This would be a great conversation to have! Let's explore - tools for what exactly!? How can we help, while making these tools work for you!?
Last session was really helpful, but I was hoping for some more tools to help settle my anxiety when I feel triggered.
Prior to having this conversation, I would encourage you to replay the session in your head. Was there something that triggered my anxiety in the session? Why would it do that? How did we settle it? You may find your answer within these questions.
I felt like my therapist completely missed the mark on this comment (insert comment / question)
Again, this would be a great topic for discussion! It may open up a whole new insight that you both may have missed. I really encourage you to have this discussion with your counsellor.
This could look like: 'So, last session when we were speaking about X I don't feel like we got to my true feelings about it." Or, 'I really wish we could have talked more about this ___.' These are great topics to expand on within a therapy session! I know I love it when a client says they were thinking about the last session, and this came up. It provides so many insights for both of us.
The result of this will likely provide clarity for you because inevitably you and your therapist will talk about why this is an important topic, what feelings came up, etc. This will help steer this session, and hopefully you walk away feeling more satisfied and like you got what you needed.