Most people will feel a little anxious attending therapy for the first time.
Therapy can be an expensive and arduous process, and knowing how to get the most out of it can relieve that anxiousness and help with the issues you’re facing.
So here are our top tips on how you can get the most out of therapy.
What do you want to get out of therapy?
Sit down and really think about what you want to change in your life for the better. The first question a therapist commonly asks is, what do you want to get out of therapy?
What specifically causes you the most anguish in your life? Are you anxious and can’t properly hold a conversation? Are the relationships with your family always strained and causing you stress? Do you feel hopeless and nothing matters?
Narrowing down your problems and having a more focused list of issues you wish to tackle, will help your therapist and you take the first step to make a positive change.
Scheduling a phone call beforehand
Sometimes therapists will organize a consultation over the phone before you meet face to face, as a way to judge if you’ll be a good match together. Sometimes a patient and therapist won’t mesh well together, however, it is uncommon.
This phone call is also meant to gauge how you feel about the therapist, do you feel comfortable speaking with them? Do you feel they’re properly listening and understanding you?
Don’t feel obliged to visit a therapist just because you’ve spoken with them, if you’re unsure you can always talk to a different therapist and see how you feel.
Be open minded
You’ll probably feel a little anxious or awkward in your first therapy session. Sitting down with a complete stranger and spilling out your deepest fears and feelings isn’t easy for anyone.
You don’t have to share what you feel uncomfortable with. Your first session is about building rapport and getting comfortable with each other. Your therapist will most likely ask basic questions as they get to know you and won’t jump into the deep end immediately.
Over time you’ll feel more comfortable with your therapist, and it won’t feel like some awkward interrogation but a natural conversion that feels good to talk about the issues in your life.
If you’re unsure about a therapist after the first session, you might be anxious about the whole affair. Allow two or three sessions before you make any reconsiderations.
You’re probably rolling your eyes when told to be honest in therapy. However, it’s easier than you think not to share that painful or uncomfortable thing in your life.
Therapy is arguably the only safe place that’s entirely judgement free and where you can be honest about everything in your life. Remember that your therapist’s ability to help you, will ultimately depend on how honest and open you’re with them.
Being honest and vulnerable is what allows you to grow from your pain and heal the burdens you’ve been carrying.
Attend therapy regularly
This is something that will be covered after your first session, but it’s best you regularly see your therapist until you’ve alleviated the issues in your life. Attending therapy on a weekly basis will have by far the most impact.
Weekly sessions are best as they’re regular enough where everything is always fresh in your mind, and it allows you and your therapist to make real progress since you see each other quite frequently. Therapy on a bi-weekly or monthly basis is less effective.
Your therapist will recommend less frequent sessions once they believe you’ve made enough progress and are in a better place where regular sessions aren’t necessary anymore.
Keep a therapy journal
A lot can happen between each session. After speaking with your therapist, you might even realize that you could call this an ‘aha’ moment. Writing about what you’ve discussed in therapy can help with those ‘aha’ moments and help you understand the issues you’re facing more deeply.
There’s no right or wrong when writing in this therapy journal. It’s important that you’re mulling over the points and issues discussed in your therapy sessions.
There may be a topic that you find too difficult to discuss, even with your therapist. Try writing about this challenging topic first and see if that helps. Writing out painful experiences can be therapeutic and allow you to separate the strong emotions you’re feeling on that issue, eventually making it easier to discuss in person.
You might feel like no progress is being made in therapy, and since starting, nothing in your life has gotten any better, but you’ve got to understand positive change isn’t a quick and easy process.
Positive change takes time and depends on your issues. It could be a somewhat long and arduous process.
Permanently improving your life will always take time, and there won’t even be a moment where everything clicks. Instead, it’s a gradual process of improvement that you don’t necessarily realize unless you look back from where you once were.
So trust the process and stick with therapy until you and your therapist feel that you’re ready.
How much you get out of therapy is solely up to you and what you’re willing to put in. Your therapist can’t magically solve your problems but act as a guiding light in the right direction which you must walk.
If you’re located in the Brooklyn or New York area, contact us at Eclectic Counseling Brooklyn and we can work to get the best therapist for your needs.