Tips for getting the most out of therapy! published | 25 October Are you are wanting to understand yourself and your personal goals and values better? Develop skills for improving relationships? Or overcome certain problems? Live a happier more fulfilling life? While some individuals and/or couples may see a therapist out of necessity it is something that everyone can benefit from, like going to the gym, we don’t necessarily need it, but it has the potential to optimize our lives. I believe therapy is a gift people can give to themselves, their life and to the people they love. For some, making the decision to begin therapy can be scary, intimidating, confusing and stressful. There’s good news, though! You can work through these feelings and truly get the most out of therapy. Join me for a quick look at some very easy steps that can make all of your therapy dreams come true! Take your time selecting a therapist You can’t very well go to therapy without a therapist, right? Right! So, the first thing you have to do is find a therapist who meets your specific set of needs. It’s super important to do this slowly and thoroughly to cover all of the bases to prevent you from feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. Start out by determining the type of therapist and approach you’re interested in and whether or not they are professionally registered and/or licensed. From there you can create a list of those you’d like to reach out to along with a list of questions that you’d like to ask before scheduling a session. You can always skip this step if you’re feeling adventurous or have received a trust worthy referral, by simply scheduling an initial session with the therapist(s) who strike your fancy based upon your research. I’ve always believed in the research showing that ‘fit’ is incredibly important in the therapy experience. There is a significant relationship between the therapeutic alliance and therapy outcome. Therefore, you should be able to connect with your therapist in order to make the best progress possible. It’s totally normal to go through an adjustment period at the beginning of your therapy journey, but don’t be afraid to listen to your gut if it’s telling you that you’re not seeing the “right” therapist for the job. Be open to the therapy process Therapy is hard work! But it can also be enriching, run, and sometimes even uncomfortable. You will learn more about yourself and the world around you – your relationships, patterns, bad habits, and ultimately what is holding you back from living your best life. It requires you to be open to challenging yourself and making changes, which tends to leave many feeling vulnerable and resistant to the process. Just know that a certain level of discomfort isn’t really a bad thing because breaking out of your comfort zone is the pathway to growth and the end result is worth it. So, give it your best shot and try your very best to be receptive to both what your therapist is suggesting and reflecting back to you as well as your own self discoveries. Also keep in mind that your discomfort may ebb and flow a bit as you tackle new challenges in your sessions. This is totally normal, too, and all part of process as you venture into uncharted territories. Set goals and do the work to meet them Sure, you could just waltz into therapy without an idea of areas of your life that you’d like to improve. However, that makes it a bit difficult for your therapist to guide you through the different phases of therapy as well as making it virtually impossible for you both to gauge your progress. So, take away some of the guess work by thinking of your goals and intentions for yourself both in and out of therapy. Set intentions for self-discovery and goals for changes you want to make personally, professionally, emotionally, relationally, sexually, behaviorally and be prepared to do the work. Doing so will enable both you and your therapist to set check in dates when your progress can be assessed and tweaks can be made to add new goals or modify existing ones accordingly. Be honest with yourself and your therapist Try to think of therapy as the time to be completely candid with yourself and with someone else who will hear what you’re saying in an unbiased, nonjudgmental way. However, this can be an incredibly difficult thing to do since we are all naturally inclined to tell people what we think they want to hear or what we are trying to convince ourselves. Fight the urge to fall into the censorship trap, though. Instead, go into your sessions with a mission to do your very best to drop your guard as you say anything and everything that comes to mind. Doing so is an effective way for both of you to work together and get to the bottom of the reason you’re there in the first place. It may not always be fun to say and hear the things that will come from these brutally honest chats, but remember the end results are greater than the discomfort you feel in that moment. Allow therapy to become part of your life Therapy doesn’t just start the moment you walk into your therapist’s office and stop the moment you leave it. In fact, you need to fully immerse yourself in the process and practice mindfulness in order to get the most bang for your therapeutic buck. This means doing your homework and holding yourself accountable day in and day out. If you’re therapist suggests you journal, work on your relationships, practice breathing, read books or watch movies – do the work and really make the most out of the process. Make the most of it to maximize your results.