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How to get the most out of therapy

When you first go to therapy, you experience so many emotions for the first session. This is, of course, normal. As much as anyone may explain the process to you, there will always be nerves as you meet your therapist for the first time. You may wonder how will this person help me? Or will this process help me get to my goals?

So, with that in mind, you might be wondering, how to get the most out of therapy?

The Therapy Process

· The first thing to recognize is that therapy is a process. There are no immediate fix for any issues that you are dealing with. Whatever your circumstances, it took time to get to the point where you are now, and therefore, it will take time to heal, to fix the issue. Hence, adjusting your mindset accordingly will dramatically help you get the most out of therapy.

· The next thing is to allow yourself to approach therapy with an open mind. You may find that you went to therapy for one thing but upon exploration, you may find that there are deeper underlying issues. This happens more frequently than you may believe. Try to approach your sessions with an open mind and an honest heart. Be willing to explore the painful things and the scary things because oftentimes, the biggest breakthroughs come from overcoming your fears.

· Be willing to commit. Oftentimes, individuals approach therapy looking for a quick fix. And sometimes, counseling may only need to deal with short-term issues. However, if your goal is to heal deep wounds, you must be willing to commit to the work. The work will be difficult, painful at times; at times, you may want to quit, but you must determine for yourself, how much you’re willing to commit to your own healing and wholeness. Like many things in life, motivation will get you started in the process, but discipline is what keeps you going.

· No negative emotions. Emotions are sign posts to us. They indicate what needs are going unmet in ourselves, in our relationships, and in our lives. So, be willing to explore all emotions in your session.

· It is also important to find a therapist that you feel comfortable with. Be willing to share your discomfort with the therapist. Approach the therapeutic relationship with an open mind. If you find that the relationship between you and the therapist is not improving, and you find that the therapist is not open to discuss the concerns, it’s okay to move on to another therapist. The client/therapist relationship is essential for your success in therapy.

· Speak with the therapist about appropriate boundaries in the relationship. These boundaries will include limits to confidentiality, social media concerns, outside contact, etc.

· If there are financial concerns, be sure to address these concerns before you start your sessions. Understanding session costs, provider coverage, cancellation fees, etc are important information which you are entitled to. Take the time to address the important concerns as they will have long-term impact on the relationship. Remember that therapy is a service.

· Allow yourself to have fun in your sessions. Therapy can be overwhelming when dealing with difficult topics. However, therapy allows you to model healthy relationships with your therapist. It’s okay to not take yourself or the relationship too seriously. It’s okay to laugh and relax in your sessions.

· Practice the skills that you learn during sessions outside of your sessions. Remember that therapy is often once or twice per week for up to an hour. That’s a very short period in the grand scheme of your week. Thus, it’s extremely important that you practice the skills you work on in your sessions in your other relationships.

· Lastly, it’s okay to take breaks from therapy. The true goal of a therapist is to work themselves out of a job. The goal is teach clients the skills they need so that they can become autonomous in their applications. These skills will help clients improve the quality of their lives. It’s also okay to change therapists. Because you worked with a therapist on one issue does not mean that you must return to that therapist for another issue. It’s okay to change your therapist. Each therapist will bring something new out of your interactions with them.

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