How To Get The Most Out Of Therapy
TLDR: Get the most out of therapy by showing up consistently, doing your part at home, and then learning to embrace, appreciate, and nurture your emotions.
While the idea of therapy has gained a lot of mainstream acceptance in recent years, many people still do not truly grasp how much they could gain through its effective use. Part of the issues involved are misconceptions about how to get the most out of therapy sessions, and what small steps can be taken to enhance the experience each week – for yourself, for those around you, and for anyone else who may be involved in the sessions.
Just like any course or training, with therapy, it won’t be enough to show up once a week and hope that something has changed since the week before. A crucial step in any growth journey is learning to self-assess and monitor your own behaviour over time, identifying patterns and taking action where appropriate – so getting familiar with a few small but important habits can actually significantly contribute to overall therapeutic effectiveness.
The first habit should be fairly easy to follow: just show up consistently! By coming to each session, you maintain a momentum that moves at your personal pace, and lessons learned in previous weeks are still fresh enough to be in your mind while exploring new ideas. Skipping a few weeks here and there may not seem like a big deal, but it interrupts your mental and emotional flow, making it harder to continue again.
Next, don’t forget about the space in between sessions, either. That doesn’t mean you have to literally think about what you’re learning in every situation, but it does mean you should do assigned readings, do relevant exercises, and think about how to apply your new knowledge more broadly in your life. A therapist can only do so much with one hour a week – you have more than 160 to work with!
In the case of couples counseling, remember that it’s a partnership. It’s easy to fall into the trap of blame and anger, especially during tough times, but by putting yourself into your partner’s shoes and understanding why they might be feeling those challenges, you will likely find that sessions are more productive and overall, more successful. Don’t be afraid to be humble, compassionate, and kind, in the session and out of it – the root of all great relationships is borne out of those emotions. It is not enough to simply say something like “I love you”; it has to be expressed and experienced.
Finally, in a similar vein – and this is something that many people struggle with – learn to embrace, appreciate, and nurture your emotions. Everyone has them, and dealing with them is a part of life, so therapy can help manage them in a healthy environment, free of judgment. Think about how you feel and why you feel that way, and take the time to carefully consider the words you need to describe them, in your own way and at your own pace. A therapist is there to help, and can assist you in accessing the terms and tools you need to grow through the course of your sessions.
Overall, the most important advice to get the most out of any type of therapy is to simply invest yourself in it. Work with it, and trust that it can help you, and you’ll soon find that it will – faster and in more ways than you thought. And if you have any other questions about the process or the results, you know where to find the answers!