How to make therapy work
12 Therapy Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Sessions
Once people decide to start therapy treatment, it’s a big deal. It’s a fairly major commitment in time, emotional space, and often, financial means. Because patients make so much room for therapy in their lives, it’s natural to assume they want to make sure it’s worth the investment.
While you can rely on a therapy matching service, like Advekit, to place you with the right therapist, you’ll still need to go in with an open mind and be ready to be in the work. If you want to get the most out of your sessions and have an effective outcome, you’ll need to put in the time, energy, and self-introspection. Unfortunately, the unknowns of therapy cause some to feel that they’re just wandering aimlessly down a path and not making progress. The worst case is that it causes a patient to leave treatment before they get to reap the benefits of therapy and see positive changes in their life. Conversely, not having a clear plan of action and treatment can also cause a client to stay in therapy too long and still not make any real progress.
How to Get the Most Out of Therapy
Getting the most out of your talk therapy sessions requires a balance of allowing both moments of spontaneous exploration and focused reflection. It’s important to let your feelings and thoughts flow freely, but it’s also important to slow down, step back, and reflect on what those thoughts and feelings are indicating, and why you might be having them. There are many ways and many areas of your own self-exploration in which you can practice this. While the content of your individual therapy sessions will be unique, here are 12 therapy tips to get the most out of your sessions.
1. Take Care of Business First
Before diving into your deepest, darkest thoughts, it’s best to take care of any outstanding administration. The last thing you want is to interrupt a major breakthrough or abruptly have to wipe away tears to write a check or schedule your next appointment. Take care of payment, scheduling and therapy insurance questions at the start of your first session. Get all those logistical issues out of the way at the beginning. If you make it a habit to check in with your therapist to see if there is anything outstanding, you also won’t ever be behind on payments or forget to get the next therapy session scheduled.
2. Bring ALL Your Emotions
Talk therapy is not the place to hold back. If you have the right therapist, it should be easy to feel open with your emotions. Granted, it might not all come rushing out at the beginning of your treatment. Even with the best match between patient and therapist, it takes time to build trust. That said, when you do feel comfortable, bring all of your feelings into your sessions. Though we often seek therapy to resolve pain points, frustrations, and conflict, it’s just as important to share highlights, joy, success, and wins.
Understanding what works in your life is just as critical to understanding yourself better as what doesn’t. Focusing on the positive is encouraging and can often shed light on the causes of more negative behavior. In general, be willing to step back, contain your feelings, and be curious about them without letting your emotions get out of control. In therapy, we exercise the capacity to have an emotion without it having us.
3. Stay Focused on YOU
As much as possible, try to keep the focus on yourself. It’s all too easy to spend an entire therapy session venting about other people in your life, or circumstances that don’t directly relate to you. This is healthy and necessary to blow off steam. It’s also nice to have an unbiased third party to get feedback or empathy. But, progress on yourself will be hard to make if you don’t use your therapy sessions to talk about you. It can be uncomfortable for many people to talk about themselves or how they’re feeling, so deflecting the focus away from the self is common in therapy. If you want to get the most out of your sessions, you’ll need to keep the conversation and spotlight on yourself.
4. Find the Right Therapist
Ask yourself: what kind of therapist do I need? Finding the right therapist is critical to getting the most out of your sessions. Without a guide you can trust, treatment won’t be as effective. Finding the right therapist involves a bit of work on your part. It’s worth the investment in time to do your research and interview multiple candidates before settling on the right therapist.
You’ll want to consider important factors like gender, physical location, experience in specific issues and treatments, and whether or not your insurance provider covers their services. If you aren’t sure how to find a therapist, you can find the right one for you through referrals, both personal and medical. Or, you can use a qualified matching service like Advekit.
5. Try to Connect With Your Therapist
Once you’ve chosen the right therapist, it’s time to forge a trusting connection. Of course, this cannot and should not be forced. Even if there is an immediate sense of comfort and ease, it might take time to develop real trust to fully open up emotionally. As with all relationships, a good therapeutic relationship is made rather than simply found. To accomplish this, try to be direct with your therapist.
No therapist is perfect, so it’s important to voice what is working and what's not during your time together. Remember, that you are paying your therapist for a service, and if you are not satisfied, speak up. What is your therapist doing that works and doesn’t work? Do they need to approach new therapy techniques? Is he or she leaving things out that you had hoped would be part of your work together? Be sure to ask yourself these questions as you seek to form a solid connection with your therapist.
Perhaps you may want to evaluate how they act towards you. In which case you might ask yourself if him or her is cold. Are they intrusive? Not challenging enough? Too challenging? Do you find their tone off-putting? Are they judgemental? Do you worry that you like the therapist too much or depend on him or her too much? Speak up. This sort of direct communication not only helps your therapist help you, but it also pushes you beyond your comfort zone.
6. Do Routine Check-Ins
Just as you start each session taking care of admin related tasks, make it a regular habit to check in with your therapist. How are things going? Are you happy with your progress? Did your therapist say something that bothered you a few weeks ago but you never said anything? Are your session times still working with your schedule? This is ideally a two-way discussion, with both of you sharing your thoughts. Having these regular touch points every month or so can help prevent unnecessary issues from arising, push your progress along, and help keep you in treatment longer.
7. Don’t Stay in a Bad Relationship
If you still feel like you’re not with the right therapist after multiple check-ins, honest conversations, and giving the relationship time, don’t stay! If your therapist doesn't “get you,” then you won’t ever be emotionally vulnerable enough to make real progress in your treatment. The biggest mistake you can make is not talking to your therapist when there are things you find uncomfortable. You may be afraid to challenge or threaten your therapist because they are in a position of authority, but remember that they are also mental health professionals and should be able to handle a negative reaction. If the therapist doesn’t handle it well, that is a sign that you should perhaps look into switching practitioners. Understanding the signs of a good therapist is critical to the overall impact of your treatment. A good therapist will be open to assuming responsibility for transgressions or misunderstandings.
Some people stay too long with a therapist who is not a good fit. It’s always a good idea to trust your instincts! If you’re not comfortable or are not making progress, you should discuss your concerns or terminate therapy. Don’t be afraid to be your own advocate and become an active participant in the treatment process. You have the right to terminate treatment at any time, with no obligation except to pay for services rendered. If you have been to counseling and had a negative experience, then you did not find the right person for you.
8. Look For Themes and Patterns
As you move through your treatment, it’s important to not just focus on each individual session, but also look for overarching themes and patterns. Therapy is most effective when we can connect the dots between events and understand how our personalities and responses affect our well-being. These patterns will help uncover a deeper understanding of how you operate in different circumstances and it will continue to serve you once you stop attending sessions and navigate the world on your own. You won’t be responsible for doing this on your own. Your therapist will help you recognize themes and patterns that underlie the events you discuss in the session. At the same time, you don’t need to wait for your therapist to do this. Try to look for themes on your own!
9. Say the Thing You Don’t Want to Say
When it comes to therapy, you can’t just show up, you need to open up. And that includes all the bad, weird thoughts you’d normally never share. Therapy is one place where strange thoughts are acceptable. In fact, the odder the better. Have a sudden impulse? Say it. Flash to a certain memory? Bring it up. If you find your sessions turning into recaps of your week, or you aren’t sure what to talk about in therapy, consider the deeper issue at play, or return to the original reason you sought out therapy in the first place. Ask what it is you're not talking about and talk about it. Discuss what you're discovering about yourself. Take the time to explore who you are, what you are feeling, and why you do what you do.
10. Expect And Allow Change
Some people come to therapy looking for a major change in their lives, but feel challenged by it once it happens. You’ll get the most out of your sessions in therapy if you choose to accept that if you're seeking change, things will probably change, and it might require more change than you thought.
11. Continue The Work Outside Session
If you’re asking, how long does therapy take, you need to understand that it’s an ongoing process. Therapeutic work doesn’t just happen for an hour a week at your therapist’s office. As the client, you’ll need to continue doing the work outside of the session and in your normal life. Once you’ve made progress, it’s time to apply what you’ve learned in counseling to your world. This can take the form of specific assignments you want to take on, such as taking the steps to pursue a new career or reaching out to repair a broken relationship. Or it can take the form of more general intentions about how you want to behave going forward, such as an intention to not avoid a difficult situation that makes you anxious. Also, meditation, exercise, support groups, community, and creative work can help you to actualize the change you’ve discussed in your sessions.
12. Enjoy Your Therapy
Therapy is a lot of work, but it also has joyous moments. Having a breakthrough can feel like a tremendous weight is lifted. Think of therapy like enrolling in a course where you are the subject matter. If you do the work, pay attention, and have a great teacher, you’re bound to succeed.
To get started on a fulfilling journey of growth, refer to these therapy tips and reach out to Advekit to get matched with a therapist!
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10 Tips to Help the Therapist Help You1. Choose carefully
Asking for help is absolutely commendable. But don’t settle for the therapist whose office is down the road purely out of convenience.
To set yourself up for success with your therapy sessions, you’ll want guidance from a professional suited to address your concerns. Consider the following when trying to find the right therapist for you.
Specialization: Some therapists receive certifications specific to a certain demographic or life event. Certifications that may be useful to start your search include:
- couples therapists
- grief therapists
- trauma therapists
- addiction counselors
- divorce counselors
Approach: There are many ways to go about talk therapy, some of which include:
- cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- humanistic therapy
- integrative or holistic therapy
Once you have a list of candidates based on your research, schedule a phone call. Before you divulge all kinds of details about your life, you get to interview your therapist. This first impression may inspire you to schedule an appointment.
“Unless you see red flags during the first meeting, give it three sessions or so before you decide if it’s going to work or not,” advises Jennifer Weaver-Breitenbecher, a licensed psychotherapist and owner of a private practice in Rhode Island.
“If it’s not going to work, take note of which qualities worked for you and which didn’t. Apply this knowledge when finding your next therapist,” she suggests.2. Handle the business side of therapy first
When you’re sitting face-to-face with your therapist, don’t let things like trying to remember to validate parking or the session’s out-of-pocket fee distract you from the important work you’re doing.
Before you ever walk into your first appointment, make sure you’ve squared away how you, or your insurance, will be paying for the therapy and for how long. Place your full attention on the help you need during your appointment with your therapist.
3. View therapy as a collaboration
Therapy is no spectator sport. Once you’re in a session with your therapist, your path to wellness is a team effort. Your therapist may be the guide, but you carry the responsibility of opening up about the difficult aspects of your life.
“Sometimes people are afraid to let the therapist guide the session and sometimes people are afraid to engage too deeply with the therapist’s questions,” Laura Mueller, a licensed independent clinical social worker, explains. “The best therapy is a balance between guiding the client and the client finding their own answers,” Mueller advises.
4. Schedule sessions at a good time
Vulnerability is exhausting. And when you’re truly putting in the work to improve your mind and situation, you’ll be digging deep to expose your inner world and unveil difficult parts of your life.
Choose a time when you have the mental space to be present with your therapist. This may not be at the tail end of a taxing workday.
5. Say anything in therapy
You can say the tough thing. If you’re having a hard time opening up about traumas, negative feelings, and habits that make you feel ashamed, you’re not alone. But verbalizing your struggles is critical to therapeutic benefit.
“To help me help you, it is good to challenge yourself to bring up the things you are wanting to not bring up,” says Mueller. “There is nothing too shameful, embarrassing, or taboo to talk about in therapy.”
6. Talk about therapy in therapy
When you expose your innermost feelings in therapy, it’s normal to experience intense fear and stress. You’re buying into a method for healing and you might have some “buyer’s remorse.” You may use therapy to talk about those feelings too. Rather than pushing these negative feelings away, acknowledge them head-on with your therapist for opportunities to reflect.
Mueller also encourages you to investigate your relationship with your therapist. “It’s OK and usually really helpful to ask your therapist questions, especially questions about how we are doing the work of therapy together, the strategy for the sessions, and the therapeutic relationship.”
7. Set landmarks for change
Psychotherapy is not a straight-line solution to your problems. Think about it as a process that builds constructive habits and thought patterns. When you fall back on old thought processes, don’t beat yourself up.
The landmarks established by you and your therapist will give you room to be flawed, so you won’t need to start over at square one after every stumble. You can move forward imperfectly.8. Do the work outside your sessions
Your therapy session shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. Implementing the tools you’ve learned in therapy in your day-to-day life is the best way to see your personal growth.
If you’re wondering what to do between therapy sessions, ask your therapist about actionable ways you can carry your therapy outside of the confines of your 50-minute meeting.
“A patient can best help me help them by coming prepared,” Weaver-Breitenbecher counsels. “Take notes throughout the week and come to session with agenda points. The session is your time — we should talk about what’s on your mind.”9. Set boundaries around therapy
Therapy is truly your safe space. Sometimes, you’ll need to guard that space from others. Well-meaning friends and family may ask what you’re talking about in therapy. Don’t feel obligated to divulge what happens in your therapy sessions, though.
What you talk about with your therapist is meant to help you alone. Sharing that confidential information with others outside of the therapy room may open you up to unnecessary criticism and opinions that are not conducive to your mental healing.10. Savor the process
Therapy can be heartbreaking, illuminating, and transformational. Licensed clinical social worker and certified trauma specialist Donald McCasland advises folks to remember to “give themselves a break.”
“One of the most important things is to understand that the therapeutic process isn’t an overnight thing, even though [patients] may want it to be. Like many other things in life, it’s about learning, growing, and making small changes that will be long-lasting.”
Chaos is part of life. The unexpected will upend your comfort in your relationships, school, and work. When these disruptions happen, finding the right therapist and fully embracing the process can help you restore the flow and balance in your life.
You know what to do and how to set yourself up for success. So no more excuses — you can find a therapist who’s a good fit for your situation and personality and start getting help now.
How to convince a loved one to go to therapy: 8 tips
Someone who puts off a visit to a psychologist, even if he is in dire need of help, is easy to understand. First, therapy is expensive and almost never covered by insurance. Secondly, finding a specialist can be difficult, especially in a small town. Finally, many find it difficult to even imagine what it is like to open up to a complete stranger.
On the other hand, we can understand that a loved one needs qualified help, and the sooner the better. How to push him towards it? This should be done as delicately as possible. Here's what the pros recommend. nine0003
Pick the right time and place to talk
“The topic itself is quite personal, if not touchy,” explains psychologist Brandi Lewis. “So it's hardly worth picking it up at, say, a family dinner. You don’t want to embarrass your loved one or put him in an awkward position?”
He advises discussing this issue in private, ideally when the conversation about it comes up by itself. Then you can express your concern and your proposal will sound appropriate. nine0003
But talking about this in the midst of an argument is definitely not worth it, says psychotherapist Judy Sineas. “When you are both on emotions, the interlocutor will hardly be able to perceive your words correctly. They will sound to him not as a manifestation of concern, but as instructions from a position from above: they say that something is wrong with you, and now they will quickly explain to you what to do.
Share a positive experience
If your loved one has never been in a therapist's office before, the very idea of having to sit in front of a stranger and tell them their whole life with all the secrets and problems can be downright scary. If you share your positive experience, it will help him relax a little. nine0003
“Try to remember what you were worried about before the first session, and tell us how you coped with all this,” counseling psychologist Matt Smith advises.
If you yourself have never been to a psychotherapist and do not know anyone who would have had a positive experience, the Internet will help you. Clinical psychologist Shelley Sommerfeldt advises looking for the stories of people who have benefited from therapy and sharing them when you get the chance. This will allow a loved one to understand that he is not the only one who needs help and that there is nothing shameful in asking for it. nine0003
“Right now, it may seem to your relative that he will never feel better again. By retelling the stories of people whose lives have improved through therapy, you will help him understand that there is still hope and that going to a psychotherapist is the same everyday procedure as, say, a visit to the dentist.
Explain why you think they need therapy
When someone is told they “need” to seek psychological help, it can sound pretty hurtful, says clinical psychologist Christina Iglesia, who launched the #TherapyIsCool hashtag campaign (“ therapy is cool." So it's important to talk about why you're suggesting it. "For example, you could say, 'I see how difficult it is for you right now, and I'm sure that with the support of a therapist, it will be easier for you to cope with everything.' This will help your loved one understand that you really care about him. nine0003
Choose Your Words Carefully
Clinical psychologist Carla Maria Mantley believes that you need to be careful what you say and how you say it. You can, for example, phrase it like this: “I love you very much, and it pains me to see how you fight stress (depression, anxiety, etc.). I was told here about a therapist who just specializes in this topic. Do you want me to try to get his contacts?
Or: “I am your friend (parent, sister, etc.) and will always support you in everything. Thank you for sharing with me what is happening to you. You know, I think a therapist could help you. I will always listen to you and support you, but I am not a professional. Let me ask my friends if they have a good specialist? nine0003
Or: “It looks like it's getting harder for you every day. I found a support group - they meet on Monday evenings. Can we go together?"
Psychologist answers: how to convince a loved one to go to a psychologist
Reason and feelings
November 24, 2016 22:22 The world will be answered by the psychotherapist Adriana Imzh. In the first issue, we figure out how to delicately explain to a loved one that it is time for him to see a psychologist - and whether it is worth doing it. nine0003
The first thing you can do to convince a loved one to go to therapy is to go to it yourself and get the result. That is why psychoanalysis spread like wildfire in its time: it gave people answers to questions that were relevant to them at that moment. The answers, as it turned out over time, are not always correct and justified, but still more useful and interesting than those offered by religion and philosophy.
If such a question is ripe, it is likely that the questioner has already gone to therapy and received a result, but his relative does not share his zeal. And here the second question arises: “Why do I need my loved one to go to therapy?” In fact, in most cases, what you want does not always coincide with what you are asking for. And most often, a person going to therapy does not get the experience that, as it seems to his loved one, he needs. On the contrary, it often becomes even more inconvenient, more complicated and confused than before. nine0003
Usually, the first thing the therapist does is work on separation, awareness of feelings, self-understanding, and not on empathy for loved ones and the needs of others. It makes sense to send a person to therapy if you want to help him figure out what is happening to him and why. It is with him. In other cases, it is better to turn to manipulative advice from women's and men's magazines or try to understand yourself - why am I so worried, what do I need from this person, maybe learn to accept him as he is? Or find a new one? nine0003
If you are really sure that a person needs a psychologist and it is for his good (even if, as a “thank you”, he stops communicating with you, discovering that you are toxic or uninteresting to him, or “he needs time to understand, where are its limits,” and the similar “horror” faced by relatives and loved ones of a person in therapy), it is important to understand two things: control and responsibility must correlate.
If you are mom or dad to this person and he is a minor, theoretically you can even bring him to a psychologist against his will. The effect will be worse, and there is a possibility that he will talk about you with a psychologist, but there is also a possibility of benefit. If you are his friend, girlfriend, lover, acquaintance or colleague, then you need to understand that even if you are more eloquent than the ancient speakers, he may refuse you. And this is his right. Therefore, in this case, we turn to recommendations and persuasion. nine0003
What helps to achieve the goal
Do not advise going to an abstract psychologist, recommend a specific specialist. It is advisable that you have his business card or website on the Internet at hand. The site is preferable, especially if there is a photo of this person or his texts.
Real life examples
Examples related to a problem you think the person should work on. For example: “It seems to me that you get tired of communication - and this prevents you from building relationships at work. Masha, Lyosha and Marina went to a psychologist with this, and everything became much better for them. nine0003
Talk about it as a done deal: "I'm convinced that when you go to a psychologist, you'll be much less nervous before dates." In order for this to sound convincing, you must be sure that this is really the case.
Offer a person texts on his problem in the interpretation of different psychologists, you can give links to blogs - so there is a chance that he himself will decide to go to therapy, since there are a lot of writing specialists now. nine0003
Your interest in psychology
Write on your blog, preferably with a personal touch: “Look, what a great text about depression (burnout, relationship problems).
Correct ideas about the profession
You can check a person's ideas about professionals. If he thinks that a psychologist is a witch with a Tarot deck or a bored teacher who is disillusioned with teaching biology, tell him about modern science, methods and schools.