1. Be informed:
Therapy is word that can mean many different things. There are therapists with different credentials and even different theoretical orientations. This can be incredibly overwhelming! Do a little research about your therapist before you begin working together. Spend some time figuring out what you might expect from therapy.
And if you can’t find the answers online, ask your therapist! Your therapist should be able to answer your questions about their theoretical orientation, their experience, their credentials and about the way that therapy with them will look. The unknown can create anxiety so be informed about the basics of what you might expect in therapy.
2. Be prepared
It feels uncomfortable to come to counseling and not know what you want to talk about. Your therapist asks what you want to talk about and you find yourself at a loss.
Your therapist might have things from last session that they can bring up but ultimately it is up to you to determine what is important to talk about in your session. Have a note in your phone where you jot down things throughout the week that make you think “I should talk to my therapist about this!” Spend a few minutes the day of therapy thinking about what feels most important to talk about. If your therapist gives you “homework,” complete it! Treat therapy as a priority and prepare for the time you are going to spend in it.
3. Be intentional
Therapy is a wonderful medium to develop healthy emotional habits. The best way that you can find therapy effective is if you are intentional about what you want to accomplish in therapy. Have some specific goals that you discuss with your therapist. You want to talk about childhood issues with your parents? You want to improve your marriage? You want to reduce anxiety at work? It is all fair game - just be specific with yourself and with your therapist about what you want to accomplish in your time in therapy.
4. Be engaged
Therapy takes a lot of work. Talking to your therapist might bring up old emotions that you never processed. It might make you realize some things about yourself that you don’t like.
Often when things get hard we tend to withdraw from a process. But leaning into the process of therapy and trusting the journey that your therapist is taking you on can bring about huge life change. Show up to therapy, be engaged and don’t quit when things get hard. If something is painful to talk about that might mean that you need to talk about it.
5. Be courageous
Therapy can be incredibly scary. Therapy means sitting in front of a near stranger and talking about things that you might not usually talk about. It can be really scary to be vulnerable with other person. Therapy is an amazing opportunity to be vulnerable in a completely safe space.
A good therapist should never judge you for something that you tell them. A good therapist will honor your vulnerability and courage and will create a safe space for you. Take this opportunity to be courageous and share some things about yourself and your feelings that might be scary to share with someone else. Be brave and it will pay off!
Therapy is as much about your relationship with your therapist as it is about any thing else. Your therapist should be someone that makes you feel safe sharing. They should be someone that helps you stay informed about therapy, that is intentional in their work with you, is engaged and that honors your courage.
If you find a therapist who you feel like might not be a good fit for you, it is always okay to find a different therapist. Often times success in therapy is about a personality fit between client and therapist. This doesn’t mean your therapist always has to agree with you or be exactly the same as you! But they should be someone who honors the differences in every and who honors the story that you share when you come to the therapy room. Do you have any questions that you'd like to have answered about therapy? Comment below and we will do our best to answer them!