7 Ways to get the Most out of Therapy
So you’re considering starting or have already decided to start therapy. First of all, that’s awesome! The ability to seek and accept help (whether it be from a friend, family member, or professional), is not always easy. It means having to step outside of your comfort zone. In having to acknowledge to yourself and to someone else that you can’t do something on your own, feelings of vulnerability or weakness may surface. Quite contrary to those feelings, though, the opposite is true. The ability to ask for help is a strength. The inability or refusal to ask for help is only a function of fear that prevents us from moving forward.
So whether you’ve already started therapy, or are just about to get started, here are some things you can do to make the most of it.
1. Make sure your therapist is the right fit. More important than a therapist’s approach or therapeutic style, is the ability to “click” or connect with them. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not looking for a friend, but you want to work with someone who gets you – someone you’re comfortable opening up to. You should be able to figure this out pretty quickly.
2. Be willing to open up. It might take some time to get comfortable, but a key component of therapy is talk! Opening up allows us to process thoughts/feelings, gain insight, and to face and overcome the things you may have previously felt more comfortable keeping to yourself. Therapy is a confidential process that allows you open up in a safe place free from judgment.
3. Be an active participant. Therapy should be a collaborative process. Although your therapist will likely be more than happy to guide the process and provide you with skills/knowledge, you’re the expert of your life. A good therapist will help YOU find the answers and won’t give you the answers. Therapy is not a place to get advice, but a place for self-exploration, gaining insight, and finding the answers from within.
4. Be willing to commit. To get the most out of therapy, it’s most beneficial to commit to the process and to see it through. Work with your therapist to develop a schedule for regular sessions. Establish clear and specific goals for the process so that progress can be measured and so you know when it’s time to terminate the counseling process. The ultimate goal of therapy is to finish therapy. This means completing therapeutic goals/objectives designed to either resolve the presenting problem or to eliminate or decrease symptoms associated with it. A solid commitment to the process allows for the best possible outcome.
5. Do work between sessions. Often times a therapist will assign “homework” between sessions. Homework is work that your therapist thinks will help you make progress towards your desired outcome between sessions. Therapy is usually only about an hour per week, after all, so a lot of the work happens outside of your therapist’s office. Homework might involve applying learned skills/concepts to your life, journaling, trying new things, taking in new information, or just reflecting on conversations that took place during session.
6. Be honest and show the real you. Being honest with your therapist is really about being honest with yourself. Withholding information or being dishonest will only act as a barrier to progress. If you’re having difficulty with this, tell your therapist as this is something that can be worked through as well.
7. Ask questions and speak up. Don’t be afraid to ask your therapist questions or to speak up if you have any concerns. If you want to shift the direction or focus of therapy, let that be known. Therapy is YOUR time!
Joel Schmidt, MA, LMHC
For a free “Float on Counseling” consultation, call 727-258-5231 or click here to send a message.