Therapy is an investment in yourself, and we want it to be as helpful and effective as possible! Here are a few ideas to help you get the best return on that investment.
Have specific goals: There is a lot you can do before your session to help you and your therapist do your best work together. One of these things is considering what you want out of therapy and communicating those goals. For example, are you looking for help processing a specific situation, hoping to learn general coping mechanisms for anxiety, or wanting to get to the root of why you're experiencing a particular emotion? You may want to use a journal or notebook to use as a tool for this and some of the following suggestions.
Be open: Another thing you can do before your sessions is intentionally set aside some time to examine your attitudes and emotions. Are you open to change and advice? Are you carrying any stigma or shame about the process? Do you have a growth mindset? Don't be worried about not being in the perfect frame of mind, though. Just being aware of where you are and letting your therapist know will do lots of good.
Be honest: Your therapist is not there to judge you! They have lots of experience with people who may not be at their best, and they understand that you are so much more than your worst moments. If you are hiding or holding back relevant information, they may not be able to support you in the ways that you need.
Take notes: Writing things down serves a few purposes. Firstly, it takes away the pressure to try and commit everything to memory, allowing you to focus more fully on the moment. Also, it allows you to look back at your progress as you move through the process. Finally, writing things down can help you process them and ingrain them in your brain.
Do your homework: Though there is lots of hard work done during your therapy session, it doesn't end there. Every time you practice a technique you've learned in therapy, you help forge new, healthier neural pathways. If you don't regularly use those pathways, they fade, and your brain reverts back to its old patterns. It's like the old adage about the fish. Your therapist isn't rescuing you by giving you a fish. They are supporting the work that you are doing by guiding you towards becoming the best fisher possible.
Be on time (or even better, early!): Because there are others with appointments scheduled after you, your therapist will need to end the session at the end of the hour, even if you are late. Being on time ensures that you will be able to use all the time that has been set aside for you. If you are early, you will be able to take some time to breathe, self-reflect, and prepare for the session.
If you have any questions about what to expect during a therapy session or are interested in scheduling one, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!