So, you’ve started therapy or have been in therapy for a while, awesome! Here are three ways to get the most out of those 50-60 minutes.
- Turn up.
This may seem like an obvious one, but its a biggie. We all run late sometimes and that’s understandable. However, your chosen therapist may have a number of clients that day and if you are late, they will likely have to cut the session short to see the next client on time, which may mean you get less out of that session.
Turning up mentally is also key to getting the most out of the session. I know it may be hard to not think about the last episode of House you watched, but try, or at least share what’s actually on your mind (nothing is too odd or silly.) It may actually lead to an interesting discussion or insight!
Equally important is turning up emotionally. You’ve made the decision to invest time and money into this process, so give it a solid shot. Therapy can be emotional at times, which can be daunting, but it pays off more when we are emotionally present. Yes, that sometimes means you may cry and that is okay, we are Costco-style stocked up on tissues. It is also not a waste of time if you do cry, so no need to apologize for it.
2. Do the homework.
I swear we don’t set homework to get you to regress into your adolescence experience of completing algebra on the way to school. Although, that may be an interesting thing to explore if it does come up!
Therapy typically only makes up one hour of the 168 hours in a week and it’s often the 167 hours that we want to look different. Personally, I set ‘between session tasks’ (it sounds nicer than homework) as a way for clients to begin to generalize skills from therapy to the rest of your life, which is critical for change.
Also, if you happen to not have done the homework, be honest and talk about why not. It may be that what we are setting is too much or impractical, and that discussion can lead to this improving.
3. Give honest feedback.
If the thought of a follow up appointment with your therapist starts to feels similar to going to the dentist knowing you’ll need to get an extraction, something’s up. You may know what the ‘thing’ is, but sometimes all you have is the feeling. Either way, turn up (see number one) and be honest about how you feel about attending. A good therapist should be one you can openly share how you feel with and that includes how you feel about therapy. This may be a great opportunity to give your therapist feedback, ESPECIALLY if something they do is not working for you. So much of what the therapist does CAN change, be it approach, pace, or even manner (within reason).
We cannot read minds (although I will hear this joke at least 1875 more times at Christmas parties this year alone). A good therapist will talk you through options of changing the approach, pace of therapy, or they may even recommend you to someone else who they feel you may work better with. Therapy can be hard, so you want to do it with someone who is responsive to what you need and the best way to get that is through feedback about what does and does not work for you.
Don’t worry, we are tougher than we look and if not, that is why we have supervision (someone who supports us to become better therapists) and emergency chocolate.
So turn up, do homework and give feedback to get the most out of therapy!