7 Ways To Get The Most From Your Therapy Sessions
One of the hardest things to do when struggling with your mental health is asking for help. If you’ve done that, be proud of yourself! But now what? Finding a therapist and getting started in therapy is only half of it. To see results from therapy, you need to work hard, be open to change, and stay actively involved in the process. Therapy is far from a "quick fix", but don’t be discouraged- there are ways to make your therapy more effective. Check out these 7 tips to help get the most out of your therapy sessions!
1. Be Honest
It’s safe to say that most of us don’t enjoy being hurt or embarrassed. That’s completely natural! But in order to protect ourselves, we often try to avoid being vulnerable—even in therapy. Studies actually show that many people lie at least once to their therapist. Unfortunately, lying can undermine your progress. If you aren’t honest with your therapist (and yourself) about who you are and the issues you’re struggling with, your therapist isn’t going to be able to properly help you. Making therapy effective often requires vulnerability and honesty. It can be scary and stressful, but try to be truthful.
Pro Tip: Learning how to open up is actually something you can work on together with your therapist, so it is encouraged to let them know about any hesitations you may have about being totally honest so that it can be addressed and not act as a barrier to your progress.
2. Ask Questions
When you’re talking to your therapist, you might feel like you shouldn’t or can’t ask questions. You may feel embarrassed, shy, or unsure what is appropriate to ask. That’s okay! If you’re unsure what questions may be off-limits or whether you might overshare personal information, talk to your therapist about it so you can establish boundaries. This can give you a sense of safety and confidence without the risk of embarrassment or guilt.
In addition, if you don’t understand something your therapist is saying or asking you to do - ask them to clarify or explain. Don’t just nod and pretend to understand; you can’t get the most out of therapy sessions without understanding what your therapist is trying to say/suggest.
3. Do The Work Outside Of Therapy
Therapy sessions can be a lot of work! You are often confronting difficult emotions and events, working on aspects of yourself that can be difficult to change, and creating a healthier version of yourself. But the work doesn’t end when you leave each session.
Therapy will often give tools to help you improve your mental wellbeing, but you have to practice using them in your daily life. If your therapist gives you “homework” or suggestions, make sure you try them consistently. There is only so much you can work on in a single therapy session; if you want lasting change, it’s important to work on your issues and challenge yourself outside of therapy as well.
4. Engage And Participate
Therapy can be a great way to learn how to make lasting changes in your life. But passively sitting in a room with your therapist isn’t enough to create progress on its own. It would be like taking a University class, never listening or studying, and then expecting to ace your exam. It doesn’t quite work! If you want to improve the effectiveness of your therapy, try to actively engage and participate.
Remember that therapy is a joint effort between you and your therapist. Answer your therapist’s questions as best you can, listen to their feedback, give your own input, participate in exercises if they ask, and try to follow their treatment plan—even if you’re not sure it will work initially (but remember to ask questions!).
Your therapist can help you discover the right path, but it’s up to you to walk that path.
5. Give Your Therapist Feedback When Needed
Your therapist has gone through training to become a mental health professional, but they’re still human. They can make mistakes and are constantly striving to learn more and improve their ability to help clients. If you think that something your therapist is doing or saying isn’t working well for you, tell them! Mental health professionals want to improve their relationships with clients and will generally welcome constructive feedback. Having this open line of communication will also help build trust and rapport, which is important for clients to achieve progress in therapy.
6. Keep An Open Mind
When you’re struggling with mental health issues, it can be hard to keep an open mind about the best ways to cope—even when the suggestions come from a professional. You may sometimes disagree with your therapist, but being open-minded can improve your own perspective as well as how you communicate with your therapist.
Remember that your therapist is not the enemy. They aren’t asking you to do, think about, or address certain situations or feelings for their own entertainment or to cause you pain. Therapists typically have proven methods and techniques, and their ultimate goal is to help you. So try to keep an open mind when your therapist suggests or asks you to do something. It can be scary to try unfamiliar activities or consider new ideas, but if you want progress it often involves trying something different.
7. Accept And Feel Your Emotions—Don’t Hide From Them
Therapy can often bring up a range of emotions—not all of them pleasant. Your therapist may challenge you to confront difficult situations from your past, or feelings you may have been bottling up. It can be difficult and may even be painful, but allow yourself to feel your emotions—even the unpleasant ones. All emotions have their purpose and it’s healthier to learn to accept and acknowledge those feelings than to simply bury them. Emotions are natural and an important part of what makes us human.
The Bottom Line
Asking for help is a huge step on your journey to improving your mental health! That’s not always an easy task. But remember that while getting help from a professional is important, it requires motivation and commitment on your part for therapy to be effective. To get the best results from your therapy sessions, try to stay focused, inquisitive, honest, and open-minded. Strive to be an active participant in your own therapy journey, and embrace the opportunity to be the best possible version of yourself again.
If you are looking for a therapist, or considering finding a new one, Inner Growth Counselling offers a variety of therapy and counselling services in Barrie to suit your needs. We have in-person therapists in Barrie, ON as well as virtual options. Please contact us for more information or to book a free 15 minute consultation—we want to see you get the most out of your therapy!
Our team of online and in-person Barrie counsellors provide quality and effective counselling services in Barrie and virtually across Ontario to individuals (6+), couples and families. We also offer an Affordable Therapy Program that provides counselling services in Barrie to individuals (12+) who are facing financial challenges that need mental health support.