Whether you are currently in therapy or thinking about starting the process, it will serve you to do what you can to make the most of your experience. Going to therapy is an active process, and its effectiveness can be optimized by keeping these things in mind:
1. Find the Right Fit
Finding the right therapist for you is important for your success in therapy. Therapists are diverse in their approach to treatment, and it is reasonable that not every therapist-client relationship will be the right fit. Start by honing in on what you are seeking help for, and search for therapists who specialize in whatever that may be. Once you begin therapy, try attending at least two or three sessions with your therapist before you jump ship; you might find that your first impression changes after a few sessions. If you ultimately decide it’s not working, it’s okay to let your therapist know, and ask for a referral.
2. Set Specific Goals
This is a step that can be easy to overlook, because it may seem like a given that the goal of therapy is simply to “get better”. Try asking yourself, “what will it look like when I am feeling or doing better? What will be different?” Your therapist will collaborate with you to set attainable goals for therapy. By setting specific goals, you are better able to track your progress along the way, and in turn, more likely to reach your goals.
3. Prioritize Therapy
Once you have found the right therapist, and you have set goals for treatment, you will get the most out of therapy if you set a regular appointment. Typically, this will be once a week, although you and your therapist might decide that something more or less frequent will be appropriate. Missing appointments frequently will likely impede your progress; if you commit to keeping your appointment, you are likely to reach your goals more quickly.
4. Be Honest
One of the great things about therapy is that it provides a safe, judgment-free space for you to be totally honest with your therapist and with yourself. Some things might be difficult to talk about, even in therapy. Keep in mind that your therapist’s ability to help is limited by how honest you are with them. By practicing honesty and vulnerability, you are giving yourself the opportunity to grow and heal.
5. Keep a Therapy Journal
During your therapy session, you might come to new understandings about yourself, others, and the world. In other words, you might have “aha!” moments. It can be helpful to make a note – either during or immediately following your therapy session – summarizing whatever insights you had or suggestions your therapist made that you don’t want to forget. By keeping therapy notes, you are more likely to make progress on your goals, and to apply what you learn in therapy to your life. Plus, it can be helpful to come back to your therapy notes after you end therapy to help you maintain the progress you have made.