How to Maximize the Benefits of Therapy

Getting therapy for the first time may feel daunting. Because you’re talking to someone you barely know, opening up to a therapist and talking about your problems can be difficult. You may feel some uneasiness since it is a new experience, but it shouldn’t hinder you from getting the most out of therapy.

Aside from improving your mental health, participating in therapy may help improve your communication skills and empower you to develop a fresh perspective with your life. Although different therapists may employ various techniques, they will create a treatment plan for your specific condition. Aside from following the advice of your therapist, you can also contribute to the positive results of your therapy.

Find a Therapist That Suits Your Needs

Therapy helps treat problems affecting your mental health. While in session, your therapist will help you understand your emotions and their underlying causes. A therapist will also guide you to explore several healthy ways to address your concerns and how you can better manage them in the future. Since your therapist plays a huge role in your treatment, you need to carefully consider the type of person you will be working closely with. To start, you may follow the qualities of a good therapist according to the American Psychological Association :

  • Has excellent interpersonal skills
  • Takes time to establish trust with their patients
  • Develops a treatment plan and allows it to be flexible
  • Monitors their patients’ progress
  • Offers hope and realistic optimism to their patients
  • Relies on research evidence

Even with this set of characteristics, you also need to think if the therapist can help you address your concerns effectively. You may need a therapist that specializes in certain mental health conditions or has extensive experience in treating issues similar to yours. Once you have identified a therapist that seems suitable to help you with your condition, ask questions before you start therapy like their preferred methods of treatment. This way, you can gauge if you’d like to work with them.

Do Your Research

One of the ways you can get the most out of your therapy is by educating yourself. You may want to start with what you can expect in the therapy sessions. During the first session, most therapists will ask general questions to learn about your background, experience with therapy, and the issues you want to address. The therapist may discuss their style and offer an outline on how a session may generally proceed. You may also need to verify how the payment will be settled for each consultation in the first meeting. Depending on the patient’s mental health condition, their therapy may only involve a few sessions, while some may need continuous sessions for months or years. Eventually, therapy will end when you and your therapist have accomplished what you set out to do. In addition, the techniques practiced in the sessions may also vary. It may include other forms of communication like story-telling or music.

Aside from knowing what you can expect during your therapy sessions, it may be helpful to learn more about the different therapy approaches. This way, you have an idea of how treatment may proceed and how you can best participate in the sessions. For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a therapy technique that helps you find new ways to act by changing your thought patterns. It works by exploring how your view of events affects your behavior and emotions.

Through CBT, you learn to identify your problems more clearly, develop an awareness of your automatic thoughts and behavior, and learn how to face your fears in a healthy manner rather than avoiding them. Commonly used to help people with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, this therapy is also used in treating people who enter a Tampa drug rehab and similar treatment facilities.

On the other hand, interpersonal therapy is an approach where a person learns new ways to communicate or express their feelings. This is helpful for those who want to build and maintain relationships by discovering different approaches when dealing with interpersonal issues. For example, if your automatic response to feeling neglect is anger, then other people may respond negatively, which may lead you to feel depressed. As part of this type of therapy, you’ll learn how to manage to communicate more constructively.

Set Treatment Goals

Although your therapist has the best idea on how your treatment should proceed, it may also be helpful to formulate your own goal and discuss it with your therapist. This way, you can also make it clear what you want to achieve out of your therapy.

Identify your concerns

In your first session, your therapist may ask you the question, “what brings you to therapy?” You need to answer this question truthfully. Your reply may be as simple as you want to feel happy or you feel stuck. Then, your therapist will ask other questions to help clarify the issue you may be dealing with.

Create a SMART goal

SMART refers to goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound. When you create your goal, you need to discuss with your therapist how you can include all these factors. An example of this is, “I want to get up every day by eight in the morning.” This statement is more concrete than just saying you want to stop sleeping late. For therapy, you may have a goal like, “I want to treat my social anxiety in one year.”

Develop an action plan

Your action plan includes smaller goals that lead to your bigger goal. In the example above about social anxiety, part of your action plan may be to attend two social events next month. Also, action plans allow you to track how close you are to your goal.

Since every mental health condition is different, your therapist may need to adjust several aspects of your treatment plan at some point. This means, your action plans or other parts of your goal may also change. Remember to be flexible, because your ultimate goal is to get better.

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