Whether you are in treatment for depression, anxiety or an addiction, finding a good support system and the right therapist are key factors in your wellness and recovery. All the clinical research shows that a good relationship with a therapist makes individual and couple therapy work. Here are eight strategies for maximizing the time you spend in therapy and ways to build the therapeutic relationship.
- Find the Right Therapist
Chemistry and compatibility are important factors to consider when working with a therapist. In order to get the most out of the process, it is important to trust your therapist. You should feel at ease, and be comfortable enough to openly discuss difficult topics. Finding the right therapist is an important step and set the groundwork for success. A good idea is to interview a few therapists on the phone before you schedule your first session. A good therapist should be open to this possibility. Ask them how they work and how they can help you reach your goals. Ask yourself, do I feel like I can talk to them and they understand. If not, call another therapist. It’s okay to shop around for the right fit.
- Collaborate With Your Therapist and Set Realistic and Attainable Goals
For people suffering from anxiety, depression or an addiction to drugs, sex, pornography or gambling, the immediate goal is to get well and find a “cure” for the problem as quickly as possible. Because everyone’s triggers, history, and the path to recovery is different, the right therapist will work with you to design a treatment plan that is ideal for your situation and circumstances. Therapy works best as a collaborative process, and give you time to make the changes you want in your life.
- Be Honest With Your Therapist and Yourself
Feelings of shame and humiliation go hand in hand with depression, anxiety, and addiction. But withholding the truth about your feelings and behaviors will only interfere with your progress. Your therapist is there to help you, and giving yourself permission to speak freely and openly is critical to your progress. If you feel you can’t be open with your therapist, talk to them about it, most likely you can work through it together.
- Be Open and Fully Present in Your Sessions
Therapy is an investment in your mental, emotional and physical health. Commit to bringing your whole self to your session, and resist the urge to censor yourself or hold back for fear of judgment. This can be hard to do but make the commitment to just be yourself. When you come to therapy make it the priority and get rid of distractions. It’s a good idea to turn off your phone so it won’t bother you during your session.
- Continue to Build and Work Outside of Formal Sessions
Like learning to play an instrument or any new skill, applying the tools from therapy in your day-to-day life once you leave your therapist’s office is an integral part of the process. Activities like journaling can help make sense of your sessions and gain new insights on your progress between sessions. Working on your progress every day is an important part of breaking old patterns. You are only in therapy for a short time during the week, so a lot of your progress can happen outside the therapy office.
- Discuss Ongoing Progress With Your Therapist
Let your therapist know how you feel about your progress, especially if you feel stuck or suffer setbacks. This is important. If you feel that you are not making progress tell your therapist. This can often lead to the break thoughts you are looking for. It’s well worth it. A good therapist will not be offended if you let them know that you feel stuck. They will support you in exploring how they can help you.
- Schedule Sessions Only When It Works for You
This will help you to be fully present, and minimize distractions during sessions. Often we want help, but don’t give therapy space in our lives that it deserves. It is best to find a consistent time and day and make therapy the priority. If you do that therapy can become part of the week and you can keep your progress going forward.
- Give the Process Time to Work
There are no quick fixes when it comes to couple counseling and treatment for addiction and anxiety disorders. Being patient and taking a long view of your recovery will help you understand and come to terms with underlying issues, and develop healthy long-term coping mechanisms. Change happens when we consistently work towards our goal. It can matter more than the immediate effort.
Understanding Psychotherapy and How it Works
How to Choose a Psychologist
Therapists Spill: 8 Ways Clients Spoil Their Progress in Therapy (& How to Change That)
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