Choosing to go to therapy is a brave and commendable step in the journey of overcoming a variety of issues. These may be holding you back from getting the most out of your life. For those that struggle with depression, anxiety or trauma in any form, therapy is a beautiful way to help teach you to fight for yourself and your mental wellbeing.
It also equips you with tools to cope with day-to-day life, stressors and triggers. For therapy to be truly effective and to help you ultimately grow and transform, here are six tips to getting the most out of your sessions.
- Find a therapist who is the right fit for you
Finding a therapist that you resonate with and that offers treatments that specifically work for you is a top priority. When seeing a psychologist for the first time, your first session exists to help you and the therapist to feel one another out and for you to decide whether that person will be best in helping you on your journey toward healing.
Go with your gut and trust in the vibes you feel between you and the therapist. Don’t feel guilty about declining a follow-up session with that person. If you ultimately decide that the therapist isn’t right for you, it’s more than okay to ask for a referral or to keep looking for one that connects with you.
- Set goals and be active in your healing process
Once you have found the right psychologist, it is important to have some idea of why you’re there. Think about what you’re there to accomplish and where you would ultimately like to be, emotionally and mentally, once you’ve reached your goals. It’s also important to be realistic and to get assistance from your therapist in setting achievable goals so that you can track your progress.
While you do pay your therapist, it’s important to understand that they aren’t there to wave a magic wand and for everything to be instantly okay. Therapy takes work and to get the most out of your sessions, it is important to commit yourself to the process. Do the homework and utilise the tools the therapist gives you in your daily life.
Keeping a therapy journal is incredibly helpful and is a great way for you to write down what you’ve learned,either during a session or after. You are more likely to achieve your goals and apply what you learn in therapy to your life, if you keep track of it in a journal.
- Prioritise therapy sessions
It is important to see your therapist regularly. Once or twice a week is ideal but once every two weeks is also fine, depending on what you’re able to afford and whether seeing a therapist less frequently is more appropriate in your case. Try never to miss an appointment with your therapist as this will only be likely to impede your progress.
- It’s okay to be vulnerable
The therapeutic space between a therapist and a client is non-judgmental and completely confidential. To get the most out of your sessions, it is important to be open and completely honest with your therapist. Even in therapy, some issues may be difficult to discuss. Keep in mind that your therapist’s ability to assist you is limited by your level of honesty.
You are allowing yourself the opportunity to fully grow and heal by practicing honesty and vulnerability. Many people cry in therapy sessions simply because they are relieved to have someone to talk to. It’s completely normal. And it is okay to not be okay sometimes. Your therapist is there to support you and provide a safe space to explore all of your emotions.
- Respect boundaries
It is crucial for you to fully accept and honour the boundaries that your therapist sets. It is also just as vital for you to maintain your own boundaries. The relationship you have with your therapist is a professional one and you should be mindful of transference and counter-transference.
Establish a process for check-ins with your therapist during your sessions and remind yourself regularly that, while your therapist may care for you, they are not your friend. For your own mental and emotional wellbeing, it is important to always keep this in mind so that you don’t become fixated on creating unrealistic and unhealthy fantasies, as this will only impede your growth and set you back.
- Be gentle with yourself
Being kind and patient with yourself is the most important part of getting the most out of therapy. It is ultimately one of the best forms of self-care and it’s important to remind yourself that you are human. You have been hurt. And you are allowed to make mistakes, get frustrated and feel vulnerable and lost at times.
Your therapist is there to support you and allow you to feel safe, seen and heard. In the times between sessions, treat yourself the way you would like to be treated, kindly and patiently parenting and taking care of yourself.
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