If you’re ready to explore therapy, congratulations! This is a powerful way to prioritize your needs and build the life you want. You may feel apprehensive about the process, but remember, you’re not handing over control. In fact, you have more input on how therapy will work for you than you may realize.
When you choose to invest your time and effort into therapy, you want to get the most benefit possible. Fortunately, there are things you can do to maximize your results. Here are nine tips to help you get the most out of therapy.
1. Give details about the reasons you’re seeking therapy during the scheduling process.
When you first contact the office to set up an appointment, let the admin team know why you’re interested in starting therapy. This doesn’t mean you have to go into deep details about the issues you’re dealing with, but the more information you can provide, the easier it will be for them to match you with the right therapist.
Each therapist has different areas of expertise, so let them know what you’re looking for. This can be a simple statement, such as “I’m experiencing anxiety after a traumatic event.” It will probably be helpful to spend some time planning how you want to explain your reasons before you call, so you don’t feel put on the spot.
2. Choose the best format for you.
Some people prefer to meet in person, while others feel more comfortable opting for online therapy. Feeling at ease is important during therapy, so if you can manage either option, pick the format that you feel the most comfortable with.
However, some people have complicated schedules, making online therapy the only reasonable option. It’s important to know that both formats have been shown to be effective. If scheduling issues make online therapy the best option, you can be confident that you’re still getting all the benefits of a face-to-face session.
3. Time your sessions thoughtfully.
The work of therapy can be exhausting, both mentally and emotionally. Some downtime after a session is helpful, so try to schedule your appointments for a time that gives you space to process the experience afterwards. If you can allow some time before your session, to gather your thoughts and set the details of the day aside, that can also be helpful.
4. Collaborate with your therapist.
Your time together will be focused on you, your feelings, and your goals. But at the same time, you will be working as a team. Your therapist isn’t in control of the work you’ll do together; they’re there to act as a guide and give you support.
To benefit most from the experience, view it as a collaboration. Your therapist has the expertise and insight to help you on this journey. At the same time, you are the expert on your own life. Paying attention to what they say as well as what’s true for you is a balancing act that will provide the best results.
5. Don’t filter yourself.
We’ve all been taught that there are things that we shouldn’t talk about, and that includes intense emotions and long-held secrets. That’s great advice for a dinner party, but in therapy, it’s important to be open about anything that’s troubling you. It’s natural for people to want to dodge subjects that upset them. But therapy is the safe place to open up about these things, no matter how scary or shameful they may feel.
Your therapist is not there to judge you, but to help you find clarity and healing. Give yourself the gift of being completely honest with them.
6. Be protective about your therapy.
People in your life may expect you to share what you discuss in therapy. This is usually because they care about you, but it’s important to know that you have no obligation to discuss any of it. This work is profoundly personal, and you have every right to keep it private. You’re not being selfish or secretive, you’re respecting yourself and the process.
7. Truly be yourself.
If there are any parts of your identity, such as sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion, that you are afraid to disclose, therapy is a safe place to share this. It would be unethical for your therapist to judge you for these facts in any way. Talking honestly about who you are and how that has affected you can be an important part of therapy.
8. Do your homework.
Depending on the type of therapy you opt for, you may be assigned literal homework. In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, for instance, patients are asked to complete work between sessions. This could include tasks such as practicing breathing exercises or filling out worksheets. This work will help you develop the skills you’re working on, making your time in therapy even more effective.
But even if you’re doing traditional therapy, it’s helpful to spend time reflecting on what you discussed between sessions. Processing your feelings, such as writing in a journal, is a powerful way to continue the work. It can also help you find questions or observations to bring up during your next appointment.
9. Prepare to exit your comfort zone.
You’re seeking therapy because there’s something you want to change in your life. This is a powerful thing to do, but by nature, it’s going to be uncomfortable sometimes. People often find change difficult, which is why it’s helpful to have support at a time like this. Remember, you won’t be going through this alone, because your therapist is there to give you the guidance you need.
If you’re ready to begin this journey, the experienced and compassionate therapists at Trillium Counselling are here to work with you. We want you to get the most out of therapy, and we promise to do our part to help you make the progress you seek. For more information, contact us and make an appointment today.