Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Therapy
October 04, 2022
Let’s talk about how to get the most out of therapy!
It’s a really big investment in your time, your money, and your resources, so how can you get the most for your money? Let’s talk about it.
#1 – Find a Good Therapist
The first thing is, when you are finding a therapist, make sure you’re getting somebody who specializes in what you’re looking for. If you go to a Psychology Today profile or you Google, and you go to somebody’s website and they list 25 things that they specialize in, they’re probably not a master of anything. Be cautious of that.
#2 Set Goals & Give Your Therapist Feedback
If in the first session or two, if you’re not feeling like this is a good fit for you, then end it and let your therapist know why you’re ending it. Before you even end it though, I would talk to them and say, ‘Hey, I’m feeling like I’m not getting something out of this’, or ‘We’re not talking about the things I think we need to talk about.’
Give your therapist a chance to ‘right the wrong’, because honestly, some days I will approach a client with one style of therapy and another day, I may go another direction. It’s intuitive, so give your therapist a chance to be human and make it right and if it’s still not a good fit, then don’t be afraid to leave and let your therapist know that too.
I do not advise ghosting your therapist. It’s just childish and immature. But, it is okay to say ‘I’m going to try to find somebody else’. They may even have a recommendation for you. In our practice we have a lot of different therapists, and if one’s not working for you, we will recommend another one and no one takes it personally. It’s just part of how you advocate for yourself and get good care.
Another way to make sure you get the most out of therapy is to come with the idea that there should be goals that you want to obtain. Be willing and able to express those goals to your therapist. They should be asking, but if they’re not, don’t be afraid to bring it up. If you don’t know where you’re trying to reach, how do you know when you get there and how do you know when you’re done?
#3 Don’t Cancel Your Sessions
Keep your sessions! If you are canceling or not showing up or you’re supposed to come weekly and you miss often, that can break momentum. It’s not about your therapist wanting you to come to therapy weekly to make more money, it’s about the fact that this is a process. I know for me, if I have a client that I’m working with regularly and we’re building strong momentum and for some reason – vacations, sickness or whatever – we have to spread out, starting back can be like “Whoa, where were we?”. It’s not fresh in my mind or theirs and we have to restart and pick it back up again. If you’re doing that frequently, you’re restarting a lot. It’s going to slow things down and that’s not good for anybody.
#4 Be Honest
There will be times, especially couples work, when one or both of you is going to feel really uncomfortable. We call it ‘being under the spotlight’. I know clients come in and they want what they want and sometimes that’s not what they need.
I try really hard, as I think most therapists do that work for me, to be honest. I feel like you’re paying for that. You’re not paying for me to affirm everything you say or make you feel good about yourself when there’s something going on that you need to look at or address and change. Sometimes it’s hard to hear those things, you know?
We all have an ugly side or ugly things in us. Sometimes I see clients trying really hard to hide that. They want me to see the person that they want to be and sometimes we have to get down and dirty to figure out what’s going on and to correct some things. So if you’re somebody that has a hard time hearing feedback without getting really angry or defensive, you might want to talk to your therapist and start your process with that situation because you’re not there to be comfortable. You’re not there to make a friend either, although I adore my clients and like to think that they’re having a good time too, when it’s appropriate. But there’s hard work in this as well.
What to Expect with Therapy
Therapy is an interesting relationship and people who’ve never been to therapy often don’t know what to expect. Hopefully, you experience a place that feels very safe, a place that is comfortable for you to let your guard down and to talk about things that maybe are really hard, if not impossible for you to talk to with anyone else. That’s our job and it’s an important job.
I want you to get what you need when you go to therapy with whomever you choose to see. You can set yourself up to have a better chance at good success by knowing some of these very basic tips. So communicate. Be honest. If you don’t feel like things are going well, bring it up. Don’t be afraid to do that. You aren’t going to hurt your therapist’s feelings. And if you do, then they may not be the right therapist for you. We typically love it when clients set good boundaries, advocate for themselves and speak the truth because we know that’s personal growth.
Therapy. Get some. We all need it.
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