Therapy can be an effective way of finding out the core issues that are causing you to experience certain negative emotions, and can aid you on the way to fixing aspects of your life that seem out of balance. However, while your therapy sessions may be good, you may find it difficult to get the most out of your therapy, and therefore hinder your chances of solving your problems. This article will go through 10 different things that you can do to make sure that you get the most possible out of your therapy sessions.
1. Talk about how you are feeling in the moment, not just about the past
You cannot really change the past, but by identifying what you are feeling NOW – you can learn how to manage feelings in new and more successful ways. Receiving understanding from the therapist is one of the most important aspects of therapy – the more you can talk about how you are feeling in the moment – the more the therapist can understand and help.
2. Choose the best therapist for you
Selecting the correct individual or marriage therapist (or other type) will almost certainly take some time and effort, but its worth the energy.
3. A sense of safety
The first thing to seek is a sense of safety. If the therapist puts you at ease and helps you relax, it may be a good fit. If you feel more anxious when talking to the therapist it may be a poor match.
4. A sense of trust
Next, do you feel you trust the therapist? This may be conveyed in manner and a “gut” instinct. This is not about the credentials or recommendation of someone else – but how you feel when talking with the therapist.
5. Trust your feelings about tour therapist
Does the way the therapist talks about your concerns and how to change them “feel” right to you? If so it may be a good match. If the therapist sees things very differently from you – it may be very difficult to work together.
6. Ask about your therapist’s experience
Your therapist’s experience in general and in dealing with the issue you are struggling with may be important. However, safety, trust and feeling that the therapist understands your issue is often more important than experience alone.
7. Come in with an open mind
In order to get the most out of therapy, you need to be open minded about what kind of suggestions and advice you are receiving, whether you’re there for individual therapy, couples counseling, marriage therapy, or something else. If you are experiencing issues with the way that you are living, then you need to be open to the idea of changing how you think, and therefore how you live your everyday life. It might also be a good idea to forget what you may already think that you know about therapy, and what you need to do to get better. As it is not working for you now, it will likely not help you in the future either.
8. Manage your expectations
Don’t expect the therapist to tell you what to do. You and your therapist are associates in your treatment. Your therapist can help direct you and make suggestions for action, but only you can make the change you need to move on. This means that you and only you can help yourself, but your therapist has the intent to guide you on the right path, and to provide support and discussion about what may be best for you.
9. Actively participate in your therapy
Make a commitment to actively participate in the therapy process. Do not skip meetings, unless there is no other alternative. If your therapist gives you assignments, work hard to accomplish the tasks. If you find yourself skipping meetings or are unwilling to go, ask yourself why and discuss your reluctance with the therapist. Therapy is often hard work and brings up difficult feelings – and your therapist can only help if they are aware of what is happening for you.
10. Be patient with yourself and with the process
Occasionally therapy can be fairly quick – if you simply need help making a decision, for example. But if you are deeply troubled by what you think, feel or how you act – therapy may take several months to be helpful in a deep and lasting way. Do not try to force change, but allow yourself to be open to your therapist’s perspective. Check in as often as needed to ensure that your goals and the therapist’s are aligned.
Most people do benefit from therapy. Following the steps outlined here may make your experience even more positive.
Michael Winters is a Psychologist in Houston focusing on marriage counseling and therapy. Michael received his PhD from the University of Memphis and has been practicing since 1991.