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Getting the Most Out of Therapy

You’ve found a therapist and you are embarking on therapy as a means to work through some hard things or gain support in finding tools for emotional well-being. Whatever your reasons, one thing is for sure, your therapist is not the one meant to do the work, you are. Investing your time and money into therapy doesn’t mean that the therapist has the solutions or the key to your happiness; in fact, only you can uncover your ultimate path to feeling yourself. A therapist is there to help ask the hard questions, help you to see the barriers, and provide the space for you to dig deep and explore. Where therapy is uncomfortable and can bring about difficult or intense feelings, the support provided by your therapist is to welcome you into a safe space to do the challenging work. Here are a few tips for navigating your way through therapy that can help you get more out of your time:

  1. Set attainable goals or intentions with your therapist. This will help keep you working towards something manageable rather than simply presenting the complaint of the week.

  2. Be open to learning new ways of experiencing and expressing your emotions. Most of us are not well-equipped with the language of therapy; a good therapist will guide you in learning how to be more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and the sensations in your body. Where at first this can feel award and difficult, eventually this will provide you with more insight to your patterns and behaviors.

  3. Take time in between sessions to reflect, contemplate, and implement. If you only show up for your therapy session and never remember what was talked about or processed and then proceed to go back to your daily life behavior expecting shifts and changes, then therapy is a waste of your time and money. Taking time after your therapy session to journal and process your sessions will set you up for deeper awareness and change in your life.

  4. Manage your expectations regarding your progress in therapy. Slow change, even mundane shifts, create lasting change. Often therapeutic triumphs are not big cathartic experiences, but small alterations and transformations that build over time.

  5. Practice open dialogue and feedback with your therapist. Your therapist is the perfect partner to engage in new ways of communicating whether it be expressing healthy anger, asking for something you need, or stating a boundary. Where you may never have built these skills in your personal life, you can strengthen your relational behaviors in a safe and secure environment with your therapist.

Following the above tips will help you to establish self-agency in your therapeutic process, allow your time and money invested in therapy be one of collaboration with your therapist, and ultimately bring about the change you were seeking when reaching out for mental health support.

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