How to Get the Most Out of Therapy
It’s finally reached that point. You’ve been struggling with mental health issues for a while and have been unable to deal with them on your own. So, the time has come. The time to finally see a therapist.
However, this can produce even more stress, worry, and anxiety. You don’t know what to expect. You’re not sure how to act, or if it will even work. And random thoughts begin zig-zagging through your head like, do I really have to lay down during therapy?
Seeing a therapist is a big decision. It’s also a significant investment in time and money, but also hope. You have questions. You have concerns. And maybe even a few preconceived notions, all of which could impact or stifle the treatment process.
In this article we’re going to explore seven ways that will help you get the most out of your therapy sessions. And that begins with …
Choose Your Therapist Carefully
Once you’ve decided on therapy, don’t be in a rush to select a therapist. Think of this as a process, and one that could have huge repercussions on your mental wellbeing. Picking a therapist isn’t like deciding where to eat lunch. It’s an important decision that deserves patience and prudence.
Fit is essential when selecting a therapist. Do your research, as there are different types of therapists and different approaches to treatment. Make sure to examine credentials and experience. However, the most important thing may be your comfort level with your therapist. If you don’t feel comfortable enough to open up and be honest, you’re not likely to see good results.
Once you’ve chosen a therapist, give it at least three sessions before evaluating whether the fit is good or not.
Be as Honest as Possible
This shouldn’t come as much of a shock. Getting the help you need will require you to be as forthright as you can. Therapists aren’t miracle workers and they’re not mind-readers.
Remember that your therapist isn’t here to judge you; this is what they do. Also, since they are bound by confidentiality, you don’t have to worry about your issues remaining private.
Be honest with your therapist about all your thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Brutal honesty is what you’re aiming for, because brutal honesty will contribute to faster results.
Set Counseling Goals
Setting goals is a great idea whenever you’re trying to achieve anything. After all, if you don’t know where you want to go, how do you expect to get there?
What areas of improvement are you most interested in – emotional health, relationships, behavioral issues? And within each area, what specifically do you hope to achieve? Get as detailed as you can.
Knowing your counseling goals will help your therapist decide on a course of action and what the focus of conversation should be during your sessions. Knowing your goals will also help you measure your progress.
Keep a Journal
During your therapy sessions, your therapist will ask you questions. You might not always have answers immediately, but sometimes those answers will come to you long after your session has ended. It’s important to bring those up next time, rather than ignoring them.
You’re likely going to have a lot of things come up in-between sessions that you feel is important. So, right those down, and address them with your therapist the next time you see him or her.
Keeping a journal is also a great tool for gauging your progress and keeping a record of your day-to-day emotions, problems, and triumphs.
Do Your Homework
Preparing for your sessions is important. Look through your journal and reflect on everything that’s occurred since your last session. Go over any questions you have or topics you’d like to explore. A focused counseling session is a good counseling session, and one that will likely contribute to the goals you’ve outlined for yourself.
Realize that it’s on You to Get Better
A therapist cannot “fix you” without your help and input. It’s important to remember that you are in control of the situation, otherwise you’ll be left feeling hopeless and frustrated.
Your therapist is there to guide you, but it’s on you to own your problems and situation. Reaching your counseling goals cannot happen without you. You must engage fully in the therapy process and buy-in completely.
Therapy is a collaboration between you and your therapist. They cannot solve your problems. Only you can, with their help.
Exercise Mental Health Prevention
You don’t have to wait for a crisis, or next crisis, before seeking help. And there are a number of different ways that you can help yourself.
It’s important to make therapy a part of your life, as most of the progress happens off the couch and away from the office. Take back control over your situation – adopt a meditation practice, eat better, exercise more. There are numerous ways you can improve your mental health. (link)
Remember that you get out of therapy what you put into it. If you work hard to get better and hold yourself accountable, you’ll reach your mental health goals. And once you do, remember that mental health prevention will be instrumental to remaining mentally and emotionally healthy in the future.