5 Ways to Make the Best out of Therapy
Making the decision to come to therapy does not come lightly. It’s important to make it work. You want relief from your symptoms which are probably making you suffer internally or in your relationships with others. You will also spend time, emotional energy and a bunch of money in it, so you absolutely want and need it to work. The process is as much a matter of picking the right person for you ,as it is the work you put into it. One without the other, never, ever works. Both have to come into play: the right therapist, and your intention to change. Let’s break those down, as we just identified the first two ways of making therapy work:
The Right Therapist. The main ingredient in therapy is the relationship you have with your therapist, so just as you don’t go into relationships with anyone, you don’t just go into therapy with anyone. It has to be the right match, and sometimes it takes time to find the right person. Interview a few people, even if it’s on the phone. Who do you feel more comfortable with? do they have experience with the issues you are bringing? do you feel heard? understood? seen? After you talk to two or three people, your gut will tell you who the right person is. Follow that.
Your Intention. have one. Even if it is as general as wanting support, make sure that’s what you are there to get, and let it be known. The big misconception of therapists being able to “analyze” aka “mind read” and somehow know what it is you need or want; is just that, a big, fat misconception. Your therapist will know as much as you let them know. If you feel like your therapist is getting side tracked, remind them what you are there for. Therapists are highly trained in getting confronted by clients and being able to hold that as part of their treatment. That’s part of the the beauty of your therapist not being your friend, you don’t have to worry so much about tiptoeing because you may hurt their feelings , so let them know what you need and want.
Write Things Down. Keep a journal, a note pad or text yourself as you remember things that you want to bring up in therapy. It’s not uncommon to feel like nothing is going on, or there is nothing to talk about the minute you step into the therapy office. This may just be a part of yourself that would just rather not rock the boat or keep things as they are. Some therapists call these defenses, others call them parts, or plain and simple denial. Change is hard, we tend to feel safer in the status quo, but that’s not what you are there for. So it’s up to you to step out of the box of comfort and nudge yourself towards that change.
Be an Active Participant. All of these tips require you to be an active participant in therapy. But there is more, I told you, therapy is hard work. Clients who sit passively hoping that the therapist somehow has the answers, or will say the right thing that will make them change have the least rate of success. They have relinquished all their power onto this therapist, and in that they relinquish their power to change. Unfortunately therapists don’t have that power, it’s just not humanly possible. So when your therapist sits there in an awkward silence, or doesn’t answer your questions, or even worse answers you with another question is because they are tapping into your own capacity to change, the answers HAVE to come from you. Embrace it.
Speak up. Let your therapist know what you appreciate and not about the therapy. This will help the therapist guide their treatment and help you reach your goals. Which is what it’s all about. It’s your money and your time, don’t waste it trying to please the therapist or avoiding a moment of discomfort. A good therapist will appreciate the feedback because it helps them get the job done.
Therapy can be the most powerful thing you can ever do for yourself.