Finding the right therapist for you and showing up to your appointments are just a few of the first steps in embarking on your mental health journey. Check out these five tips to help you get the most out of therapy!
1) Advocate for Yourself and Set Goals
Before starting therapy, take some time to explore what your goals are, what you are hoping to get out of therapy, and what your expectations are for therapy. No one knows you as well as you know yourself. It will be important to advocate for yourself when meeting with your therapist so that your therapist can understand how they can best support you. This can look like: clearly expressing what your wants and needs are for therapy, expressing if you disagree with your therapist, or bringing questions or concerns you have to the session to be addressed.
2) Allow Yourself to Be Authentic
Feel the urge to cry? Allow yourself to let those emotions flow freely. Have an uncomfortable nagging thought that’s in the back of your head that you are avoiding saying? I challenge you to say it in session. Therapists understand that it will take time to build trust. However, you will be doing yourself a disservice if you are not allowing yourself to be your truest self in therapy. This is the time where you can explicitly state your feelings, thoughts, fears, dreams, and more in a nonjudgmental space. If the reason you are not opening up in therapy is because of reservations you have about the therapist you are seeing, then voice those concerns so that you can either work through them with the therapist or decide if it is time to begin searching for a new therapist. You should feel safe in sessions and feel like you can be your authentic self. The therapeutic relationship is an essential aspect of therapy.
3) Be on Time and Be Present
This one may seem simple enough but it is important to mention. For most therapy appointments, sessions run anywhere from 45 minutes to 50 minutes. The time you have allotted for therapy is valuable. Arriving late or being distracted can be detrimental to the session because you may find yourself feeling frantic and may not mentally be in the best place for a session.
If your visit is in person: Try to leave early for your session to allow yourself time to make it safely in case of unexpected traffic or road delays so that you do not feel rushed or risk arriving late. Try to plan to arrive 10-15 minutes before your scheduled time if possible.
If your visit is telehealth: Try to wrap up any work, household chores, or errands you are attending to at least 10-15 minutes before your scheduled time so that you can prepare for the session and ensure you have little to no distractions in your environment.
Once you begin your session, put your phone on do not disturb so that you can be fully present!
4) Complete Homework Assigned and Take Time to Reflect
If your therapist has assigned you homework, make it a priority to do it! Therapy involves work in and out of the session. The skills you are learning and working on in therapy require practice. Think of any sport or skill like basketball or playing guitar, you have to practice to strengthen the skill and become proficient. It is important to apply what you are learning in therapy in your day to day life and to also give your therapist feedback on whether or not you are finding the skills you have learned to be helpful so they can better support you.
If your therapist does not assign homework, you can still take it upon yourself to make time to reflect and identify areas you want to discuss in your next visit. Use a journal to write down significant events that come up in between sessions that you wish to discuss, feelings or thoughts that arise that you wish to discuss, or take time after sessions to write down what you found to be helpful or insightful from the session.
5) Be Open Minded and Be Patient
Change can be uncomfortable and intimidating. In order for you to reach your goals, there will have to be change in some way. You will ultimately be in charge of the changes that you decide to make in your life and your therapist will walk alongside you, guide you, and support you. Challenge yourself to be open minded, willing to try something new to address your problems, and receptive to looking at things from a different perspective. It is also important to be patient on your mental health journey. Healing will take time and therapy is a process. In therapy and personal growth, there will be many ups and downs but it can truly be transformative if you allow yourself to be open to change.
If you are searching for a therapist and live in Texas, the counselors at Natural Balance Counseling are ready to support you and walk alongside you. Feel free to reach out and request a free 15 minute consultation now by emailing us at email@example.com or submitting an inquiry right here on our website!