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October 2021

How To Get the Most Out of Therapy

By | Blog

There are so many people in the Greater Toronto and Greater Hamilton regions seeking therapy to help reach their mental health goals. 

However, it’s easy to believe that simply going to therapy is enough to reap the benefits of speaking with a professional counsellor.

If you’re taking time out of your life to see a therapist, it’s important to get the most out of therapy. Here are some tips you can follow to do just that:

1. Make Sure You’re Ready

You won’t get anything out of therapy if you don’t actually want to go to therapy. Make sure you are ready to start counselling before you invest your time and money into doing so.

Therapy is most effective when you attend voluntarily and are an active participant in the process. Don’t seek therapy to please anyone such as your family or employer – you will be less engaged in the process.

2. Choose a Therapist You Can Relate To

Getting the most out of therapy also involves finding the right therapist. All therapists are unique and diverse in their approach to treatment, so it stands to reason that not every therapist-client relationship will be the right fit.

Start by looking for a therapist that specializes in whatever you are struggling with. Check out their websites or book a meet-and-greet to see if they are someone you would be comfortable speaking with.

Once you start with a therapist, give them about 2-3 sessions before deciding whether or not they are right for you. If you decide it’s not working, let your therapist know and ask for a referral.

3. Have a Game Plan

Once you find a therapist that you are comfortable with, you need to have a game plan before each appointment. This ensures that the session is effective in addressing your needs and your situation.

That’s not to say that you need to have an entire plan mapped out for your therapy! Simply come to your appointments with an idea of how you want your life to look when you are feeling better.

Your therapist will help you identify and set attainable goals so you can track your progress along the way.

4. Be On Time for Your Appointments

Although therapists are dedicated to helping you overcome your unique challenges, they are also dedicated to other patients. This is why they need to schedule specific appointment times to focus their attention on you.

When you’re late, your therapist cannot give you the time you deserve so that you can fully express what you are feeling and address your issues.

To get the most out of therapy, show up on time for your appointments so that you and your therapy have as much time together as possible.

5. Takes Notes or Keep a Journal

young man at home writing writing down thoughts in journal on notebook, sitting on couch

It’s easy to walk out of a therapy session and forget half of what you talked about. When it comes to remembering key points or what you are to work on, it can help to take notes during your appointment. 

Or, you may have a breakthrough moment with your therapist and come to a new understanding about yourself, others, and the world. It can be helpful to jot these revelations down either during your therapy session or immediately afterward.

Keeping a journal between sessions is also useful in tracking your progress and applying what you have learned in therapy to your life. It can also be a great way to come up with questions or concerns you want to talk about in your next session.

6. Ask Your Therapist Questions

Speaking of asking your therapist questions, they are not simply a pair of ears to listen to your struggles.

Asking your therapist questions can help you feel like more of a participant in your therapy and clarify anything your therapist has said that you don’t understand.

There are no rules saying that you can’t ask your therapist questions and it’s up to the therapist to determine what they are willing to share about themselves. 

7. Try New Things

Therapy is a safe space where you can explore your feelings as well as your capabilities. Take advantage of this by trying new things with your therapist.

For instance, if you are a passive person who wants to be more assertive, rehearse a confrontation with your therapist. Or maybe you feel anxious about crying in front of someone – therapy is a great place to let your emotions out!

Sometimes we think that practice is reserved for specific skills like playing the piano or basketball. However, you can also practice certain behaviors as part of your therapy goals.

8. Be Open and Honest

Therapists are not lie-detector tests nor can they read your mind. They are there to provide you with a safe, judgment-free space where you can be completely open and honest.

Yes, some things are difficult to talk about even with a therapist. However, your therapist’s ability to help you depends entirely on how open and honest you are.

You don’t have to open your can of worms immediately but, to get the most out of therapy, you need to practice letting your guard down, being vulnerable, and being honest in order to grow and heal.

9. Do Your Homework

Think of therapy as taking piano lessons. How much better do you think you’d be if you practiced at home between lessons instead of only with your instructor?

Continuing your therapy outside of your appointments by doing your “homework” is going to help you get the most out of therapy. Real-life practice contributes greatly to the growth and changes you have been discussing with your therapist.

Taking what you’ve learned and applying it to your life is going to help you benefit immensely from therapy.

10. Prioritize Your Therapy

Seeing your therapist regularly is going to also help you get the most out of therapy. The frequency depends upon your goals and what your therapist suggests but, typically, sessions usually start at once a week.

Over time, your therapist may suggest something more or less frequent based on their observations, expertise, and your goals. Missing appointments or not scheduling appointments is going to impede your progress.

Commit to keeping your appointments to reach your goals more quickly.

Speaking of Appointments…

Are you ready to book one? My team of expert psychotherapists can often get you in within a week of booking your appointment. 

Let’s see if we’re a good fit! Contact me today to get started.