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5 Ideas for How to Get the Most Out of Therapy

Chad Prinsloo | Web Designer

Robbie Pearman  |  Counselling Psychologist

April 15 2021

Whether you are currently attending psycho-therapy or thinking about starting, there are things worth keeping in mind that can amplify your results. Effective therapy requires an investment in both time and resources. Both therapist and client must be open and committed to really see tangible results and lasting change.

Getting an understanding about how therapy works and what you can do to prepare yourself in order to promote effective treatment is something I have previously touched on in terms of what to expect from therapy, what a good match with your psychologist might look and like, and some common mistakes I noticed that can impact the effective treatment.

But what are some important concepts to consider as you embark on seeing your chosen mental health practitioner?

Here are 5 thoughts to consider that will help you get the most out of your therapy.

Understand Your Role vs Your Therapists Role

As therapists, we are bound by confidentiality (unless we are worried about someone posing a risk to themselves or another). This serves many purposes, chief amongst which is to ensure you a safe and protected therapeutic environment for sharing. Coming to therapy for the first time can be somewhat disconcerting, but knowing that the therapist is ethically and legally bound to keep these sessions private and confidential, will hopefully give you the confidence to share as openly and freely as possible. Being able to unreservedly engage in these sessions from the outset will only accelerate the change process and make therapy more effective for you.

Schedule Sessions Appropriately

Attending a therapy session requires some focus and commitment. Feeling distracted and not present during sessions will undermine its effectiveness. Consider time slots that will allow you to engage as fully as possible. For some, it might be at the end of the day when their own workday is finished, and they can fully dedicate themselves to the discussion. For others, the start of the day might be best when they have the most energy and before the busyness and unpredictability of their day has been able to derail their focus. Consider also that sometimes strong emotions are felt during a session, and you might not want to have to engage with people immediately afterward. In this case, you might just want to schedule some time after the session that allows you a chance to compose yourself before interacting with people again. Spend some time thinking about which arrangements would suit you best before scheduling therapy sessions.

Think About Therapy Goals

Many people think about and verbalise their desired outcome from therapy in the negative, as in “I want to not feel depressed” or “I wish to reduce my anxiety”. In other words, they think of achieving the absence of something (depression, anxiety, etc.) It can be more challenging, yet also more useful, to consider your goals in the positive, or with a sense of presence, of desired emotions or feelings. In essence, to consider what would take the place of feelings of depression or anxiety, for example. These could be things like hope, energy, optimism, love, or contentment. Considering our goals for therapy in this way helps us to cast an eye into our best hopes for our future, and not to be completely immersed in the problems of the past.

Ask Questions

No question you ever ask a therapist is foolish or silly. Asking questions in therapy is very helpful for therapist and client. Being able to have your questions answered is likely to increase your level of comfort with the therapist. Questions also increase your therapy participation and boost your focus in the session, which demonstrates to the therapist that you are invested. If you are confused about something and want clarity from your psychologist, speak up and ask them.

Get to Work Between Sessions

Therapy will be demanding at times and questions might take some concerted effort to answer. Both the therapist and the client need to be committed and working hard in the session to make it successful. Once you leave a psychologist’s room, there is nothing more they can do for you until the next session. However, your work is likely just beginning. Change happens not just during sessions, but also between sessions, but only if you are prepared to attempt to implement the learnings and solutions that emerged from your session. It is up to you to activate them so that you have something tangible to work on within your next session. This will hopefully mean you get results from counselling sooner, saving you precious time and money.

I’m a Counselling Psychologist situated in Blairgowrie, near the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, such as Rosebank and Sandton.

I work with individuals, couples, families, and small groups to address current challenges with a solution-focused approach. These challenges may include some more common complaints such as depression, and anxiety, or those trying to come to terms with trauma or bereavement.

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