First Person


How Humor Helps This Therapist Relate to His Clients

Omar is an openly gay New York based Therapist living a normal life in NYC. He demystifies the counseling experience and breaks down the conceptual and systematic forces that many of his patients bring up, all the while reminding us that humor and self-worth can be our best tools in navigating the world.

AIRED: June 26, 2018 | 0:06:50

My mom basically told me that I was gay. And it was a really great conversation we were just

chatting one day about life and she asked me if I was dating anyone and at

the time I was dating my very first boyfriend and so in my head I was

thinking okay this is it like this she's asking me okay this is it and so she was

like aren't you dating anyone and I said yes actually I am

and before I could follow that up with like "and his name is..." she just goes "well

you can bring him over any time you want." and that was it!

I knew I wanted to be a therapist since I was about five so whenever my mom would take

me to school she would you know ask me the very stereotypical like "well what do

you want to be when you grow up?" and I was always "I want to be a psychologist"

oh yeah there I am stuffing my face as usual. With fast food no less.

I like to incorporate humor into my sessions I think laughter is really really

important some folks they get suspicious when it comes to humor especially in

session because it can be used as an avoidance tactic or a coping mechanism

but I also think that humor when used effectively can help with healing and

can help with processing difficult information especially I don't think I

started feeling like gonna do until I was 30

Then I was like oh I feel like a grownup sort of I definitely like my hair better now.

My desire to help definitely came from a place of on the surface it came from a

place of I want to help people and I want to affect change and you know and

I'm really interested in human behavior but I think underneath all of that

unbeknownst to me at the time it was also there was also a part of me that

just wanted to know myself more and that wanted to work through my own struggles

especially in terms of identity and I knew that the path to becoming a

therapist would help me figure that out and this comes with little sayings I

didn't even know back it says love your soul no I love your soul I knew that I

was staring more at like the leading man in a movie or something like that and I

didn't have language for it I didn't know what it was but I knew that it was

there and I also knew that it was something that I needed to hide it was

something that I told myself like I can't you know share this with anyone I

work primarily with the LGBTQ population not because that was necessarily the

only population I wanted to work with it just sort of naturally happened that way

most of my clients are gay men and you know most of the individuals that reach

out to me want a clinician that can sort of relate to some of their experiences

and they also want a clinician that they don't have to sort of teach right so

when a client comes in and they say like "So I bottomed last night" they don't,

I'm not like, "what's that like tell me what-" right, so they you know these a lot

of these clients like to be able to just sort of like talk freely about stuff

without having to pause and say that's what this means and that's what that

means so you know lots of folks come in with issues around depression anxiety

trauma so everyone comes in with sort of an idea of what's going on and what they

want to talk about but ultimately it the conversation all the conversations sort

of end up in the same place which is how do you see yourself and how do you want

others to see you where have you been what's your history like and where do

you want to go and those conversations revolve a lot around you know sense of

self sense them self-worth and you can't talk about you know your own self-worth

without talking about identity so those conversations typically come up the most

for me in session.

it's my favorite part

and I care about people too, haha not just my hair

when talking about self-care I like to ask the client what is what does it look

like for them what is self-care mean to you when you think of self-care what

comes up for you what images come up for you what thoughts come up for you and

then that's sort of how I tailor self-care practices to the client and it

can look you know it can take many many different forms from you know giving

yourself a time out you know throughout the day like 15 minutes to just sort of

check out or you know again take a walk meditating it can be going to the gym it

can be something creative writing painting sculpting and and or it can be

something as seemingly simple as taking your lunch break that is you know that

that's self-care and it's shocking how many people don't take their lunch

breaks I'm not too sure when I would have started my own therapy had it not

been for me wanting to become a therapist I think therapy is so

important and it doesn't have to look the way it might look on TV right it

doesn't have to be you laying down on a couch and sharing you know painful

experiences therapy can also be a place for you to ask questions so I started my

own therapy and like six years ago and it wasn't until my own therapy that I

talked about how being a Latin male influences my experiences as being gay

and that was again really really eye-opening kind of relieving to cuz it

felt like ah I can talk about this with someone that isn't going to be afraid of

having this conversation and it felt kind of great and it helped me feel not

so alone also it also opened my eyes to the fact that intersectionality is so

important and that it plays a role in how I see the world and in how the world

sees me- all right I'll see you Tuesday at 3:00 okay, bye.

my clients serve as a constant reminder that we are resilient that we are

resourceful that even when you're feeling at your lowest that we're gonna

be okay and they remind me every day they remind me of just like how strong

they are and that you know that I can get through you know whatever bad crappy

day that I have that I will be just fine


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