How to get the most out of therapy

When you start therapy, you want something in your life to change and you want to feel better. I have heard from many clients over the years who come to me and say “therapy doesn’t help” or “it was a waste of time.” This can be attributed to a number of reasons. One is you have to find the right Therapist for you. We all are so different with a multitude of theories, philosophies and treatment protocols and one size does not fit all. We all have unique personalities and approaches as well so the first step is to find someone you connect and feel comfortable with. The second reason why it might feel like it doesn’t help is clients who don’t do any outside homework or make any changes in their lives will see minimal results. It is unrealistic to thinkt hat you can come to therapy once a week and you will feel better, and all your problems will be solved. There are some changes you have to make in order to achieve the best benefit.

So how do you get the most out of therapy? Over the years here is a list of what clients with the most success do differently:

  1. They come prepared to sessions. This might mean they take some notes when something they want to discuss in therapy comes to mind during the week or have an idea of what they want to talk about before the session. The most successful people keep a “therapy journal” to keep notes between sessions and share this with their Therapist. Some also keep a “therapy folder’ to keep all the handouts I give them, they also look back on handouts I have given them.

  2. They are open and honest. I can usually tell fairly quickly if someone will have slower progress based on their vague responses to questions. When clients are continually closed off, this can be an uphill journey in therapy since so much is unsaid and when the Therapist is unaware of issues they cannot help.

  3. They complete their therapeutic homework and may do extra. Therapeutic homework is an essential part of therapy and reinforces what was taught in session. Your level of participation with homework will determine how well you can overcome your issues. The more you invest in it, the more you will get out of it.

  4. They research their diagnosis and engage in their own practice of new skills. I am always impressed when clients have done their research, continue to read books about their issue, practice new strategies based on what they learned and are willing to go above and beyond to move forward.

It can be a struggle for some people to find the motivation to engage in all of the above behaviors. The question is how much are you willing to push yourself to work on weekly goals so you can have some relief? If you make it your intention, anything is possible! If you ever have questions about how to get the most out of therapy, be sure to bring this subject up in session.