Deciding to go to therapy is a huge step towards feeling more confident, healing old wounds, overcoming issues like anxiety or depression, and making positive life changes. Showing up to your sessions is monumental in and of itself, but by planning ahead and following a few tips, you can get even more out of your therapy sessions. Here are a few ways to feel centered and focused so you can maximize your therapy sessions.
1. Let go of fear or judgment
If you feel like opening up to a stranger is intimidating, you’re definitely not alone. It’s important to understand, however, that therapy is a judgment-free zone. The foundation of any therapist’s training and approach is unconditional positive regard. This means that your therapist will support you no matter what you say, placing no conditions on this acceptance. Therapy is a safe place for you to be seen and heard. Try your best to let go of your fears about how you’re coming off to your therapist. Regardless of their style or modality, they will not be judging you.
2. Bring a few notes
Designate a notebook for taking notes related to therapy. You can use this notebook to jot down notes and thoughts that you have throughout the week—worries you had, fears that kept you up at night, behavioral patterns you noticed, and so on. It’s easy to forget these types of things after the moment has passed. By writing these things down and bringing them to therapy, you’re sure to cover the things that affect your day-to-day life. You can also use this notebook to write down notes during your therapy sessions. These notes could include helpful phrases, insights, and to-do lists, for example. 3. Don’t pretend to be okay
While it can feel uncomfortable at first, try your best to be your raw self during therapy. Don’t sugarcoat things, hide certain bits of information, or pretend that things don’t bother you when they do. Put it all out there. Talk about dark things, scary things, embarrassing things—whatever is on your mind. This is your time to speak with no filter. The more that you present your real self and talk about all the things weighing on your heart and mind, the more opportunity there will be for genuine change, improvements, and healing.
4. Ask questions
If your therapist is talking about something you don’t understand or you feel unclear about a particular suggestion, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Open communication between you and your therapist is the foundation of your treatment. Be sure to gain clarity when necessary so that you can fully embrace the discussions and suggestions. 5. Do the homework
Oftentimes, your therapist will want you to complete some sort of homework between sessions. This might entail journaling, completing a page in a workbook, watching a certain video, writing down notes, or testing out some of their advice in real life. If your therapist provides an assignment, they’ve done so because they feel it will benefit you and facilitate your healing process. Homework assignments allow for more learning and growth opportunities between sessions. It keeps you thinking and puts into practice what you’ve learned in therapy. Resist the urge to lie and say you did the homework when you didn’t. If you didn’t do it, be honest about that, and strengthen your resolve to do it next time.
The bottom line
First of all, if you’re in therapy or about to start therapy, give yourself a pat on the back. Therapy is an incredible act of self-care and can lead to immense changes in your life. You don’t need to put pressure on yourself to make therapy “work,” but there are a few things you can do to make the most out of your sessions. By embracing the process, asking questions, opening up, and speaking your mind, you’re sure to maximize your time with your therapist.
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this page are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this post is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, including but not limited to the benefits of mental healthcare, wellness and nutrition. It is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional mental health advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is not a substitute for a relationship with a licensed mental health practitioner. Always seek the advice of your therapist, physician or other licensed mental health professional with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional mental health advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this page.