Going to see a mental health professional for the first time (or at any time) can be a daunting and unnerving process. Most people don’t enjoy feeling like they need to seek out professional life coaches, therapists, behavior specialists, or psychiatric care services. Sometimes, however, being completely and unabashedly raw and emotionally vulnerable both with and around another human being with expertise in the field of helping micromanage individual being’s personal behavior while surveying their personality for common psychometric response indicators is both necessary and fundamentally helpful.
The article “What to expect from your mental health provider” by the Mayo Clinic points out some simple questions all people seeking guidance from a therapist, counselor, life coach, personal mentor/sponsor, or psychiatric professional should be prepared to ask themselves then share honestly right out of the gate to facilitate honest communication in such a way that counseling services will be the most effective and helpful.
The Mayo Clinic says, “The mental health provider is likely to ask you many questions to gain an understanding of your symptoms and how they’re affecting your life. He or she may ask…” the following questions. Please note that when dealing with Narcissistic Abuse issues specifically, one should consider the following amended list of questions when thinking about their own life (in terms of dishing out or being dealt a hand that includes or historically included years of exposure during childhood and beyond to toxic thinking or any form of traumatizing crime or domestic abuse).
When considering talking to a counselor, ALANON meeting sponsor, psychologist, marriage counselor, or life coach, consider providing them with clear, non-emotionally charged, objective responses to the following list of highly personal and subjective questions.
The following is a list of key questions to prepare to be asked about by any and all service-oriented professionals, noting if a person fails to ask for or consider these relevant and pertinent insights that chances are they are the wrong person to be giving anyone advice — let alone be paid for their wisdom to come in the form of counseling services:
- What are your symptoms? Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual, Financial, Career, Professional (workplace related), Romance, and/or comprehensively affecting your “Lifestyle”
- When do these symptoms occur, and how long do they last? Do you have excessive stress or do you suffer routinely with anxiety? Have you been experiencing signs of C-PTSD or “shame attacks”? Are such feelings timed appropriately in relation to witnessing or being a part of traumatic incidents or do they come out of the blue with no triggering stimulus?
- How do your symptoms affect your life, including school, work, and personal relationships? When such incidents happen, how long do you feel powerless or out of control of your emotions? A few minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years?
- How do you feel — and act — when others seem to criticize or reject you? How do you respond to a person interested in talking about your behavior impacts them? How do you respond when asked to introspect or accept constructive criticism? How do you tend to react when criticized unjustly or unfairly? How do you respond to outright slander, lies, or insults if you have been a person pervasively targeted for social and emotional abuse by negative peer groups or toxic family members? How do you feel about abandonment? How do you feel about being lied to or used, noting that to be disrespected by another human being is actually a complex form of both abandonment, betrayal, and rejection?
- Do you have any close personal relationships? If not, how do you explain that lack?
- What are your major accomplishments?
- What are your major goals for the future?
- How do you feel when someone needs your help?
- How do you feel when someone expresses difficult feelings, such as fear or sadness, to you?
- How would you describe your childhood, including your relationship with your parents? Did your parents exhibit any traits of misogynistic, racist, or entitlement thinking? Do any immediate family members or those who either resided in your childhood home or were caregivers exhibit traits and symptoms (in retrospect) of having had or been influenced by Cluster B personality disorders? What was your role in the family dynamic, historically? Do you or did you consider yourself the Golden Child, the Abuser, the Lost Child (exiled), a Rebel, or — more importantly — a Runner?
- Have any of your close relatives been diagnosed with a mental health problem, such as a personality disorder? What are your feelings or subjective emotional biases about people who seek mental health treatment services? How has your family and immediate peer group historically commented on or reacted to news about someone going to support meetings like A.A., N.A., Al-anon or entering therapy?
- Do you feel safe discussing your own mental health issues with family and friends? If so, with whom and why? If not — why not (asking yourself for the purpose of constructive and honest analysis)?
- What are YOUR experiences [historically] related to the pursuit of mental health and/or spirituality?
- How do you feel about people who have been historically labeled or stereotyped as being emotionally weak, needy, or “crazy“?
- Do you yourself have any fears about being stigmatized for seeking support and counseling services from an expert mentor or academically licensed mental health professional?
- Have you been treated for any other mental health problems?
- If yes, what treatments were most effective? Were you ever treated or mistreated for a condition you did not have due to parental dishonesty or familial manipulation?
- If not, what led to the abuse happening at the time and/or what led you to believe the people advising you were acting in such a way that reflected your own — rather than their — best interest?
- Do you use alcohol or illegal drugs? How often? What are your reasons for using mind-altering substances in general? Do you use drugs or alcohol respectfully or in a social environment? Who does your drug or alcohol use impact directly or primarily? Have people expressed to you with concern fears about your health or suggested you may be a drug addict or alcoholic — not in a shaming or blaming way, but out of true concern for your best interest?
- Are you currently being treated for any other medical conditions? What conditions do you have that appear to be chronic, ongoing, or have modified your lifestyle in any way over the years? Do you experience chronic fatigue, pain, or intermittent health problems that impact your quality of life? Do health related issues or emotional and/or mental fatigue play a part in the overall health of relationships? Are you able to work without health issues compromising your professional marketability? Does any physical handicap or limitation restrict your ability to engage in any hobby or activity you desire to participate in (including but not limited to sleep, exercise, playing sports, fine motor skill work, large muscle group motor skill development, or doing things like reading and writing?