Most people do not know all that much about the process of therapy, that is not really surprising given the stigma attached to mental health difficulties and accessing help. If and when you manage to get past all of that, and actually book therapy there are ways you can really make the best of your time there.
Of course we are all aiming to get better, feel as good and healthy as we can, be effective in the world. Getting there is something that is going to be a collaborative process – that is to say your therapist can only ever help you to reach your goals, you have to do the work! Also therapy is expensive and you don’t want to waste your time there doing something that isn’t effective, so here is my list.
Number 1. Show Up
It sounds obvious but it’s an important one, yes things come up in life and you may miss sessions but really when you don’t attend regularly you are really doing yourself a disservice because it takes longer to pick up the threads of the work we have done. It is good practice in self-care to really commit to showing up. Give yourself a break and go weekly and keep the forward momentum going. If you are really struggling with timetabling talk to your therapist, they may be able to help you with skype sessions, or phone sessions sometimes.
After some time in therapy when you have really got your skills and tools under your belt, check in sessions can be an option.
Number 2. Speak Up
Let your therapist know if you are not okay, you have the right to set boundaries, expect those boundaries to be respected. Also check out what the therapist is thinking or feeling in relation to you if that is something that bothers you. The therapeutic relationship can be a powerful tool for healing interpersonal issues but the therapist is not a mind reader, if you hide how you’re really feeling or what you are thinking you will only be doing yourself a disservice.
Number 3. Set Goals
Before your therapy starts it is great to have a clear idea about what it is that you are bringing to therapy and what it is that you’d like to get out of going. Most therapist will probably ask you about these things early on, I do in the assessment session. It is so helpful when clients have this level of insight but if you don’t know right away that okay too – if all you have is a vague sense of something being wrong, say that – giving as much information as possible is always helpful.
Number 4. Find a Good Therapist
This doesn’t necessarily depend on the therapist having a particular degree, or on you feeling better quickly, unfortunately, it can take a while to feel better. A lot of evidence suggests that the most important thing about therapy is the relationship between the client and the therapist so perhaps the most important thing in finding a therapist that is good for you is getting one that can create a great rapport with you.
In my practice as a therapist, I try to encourage my clients to set their own course. You are the expert on you, yes I have some skills and tools to share, but therapy is a collaborative process in which you really get out what you put in.
Thanks very much for reading!