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  • Writer's pictureKasi Drummer

How to Make the Most of Therapy

Cognitive therapy has been shown over the years to be incredibly effective at helping people recognize and change their behaviors. But, as much potential as therapy has for every individual, some people seem to have success with therapy while others don’t.

Some of this stems from what the individuals’ expectations were going into therapy, some from how much effort they gave, and some from whether or not there was a good personality fit between patient and therapist.

If you’re thinking of exploring therapy and want to ensure your journey is successful, here are some things to keep in mind:

An Evidenced-Based Approach

The American Psychological Association defines an evidence-based practitioner as someone who integrates their clinical expertise with available/relevant psychological science and the client’s values and cultural context to guide the intervention. This means your therapist should be using proven techniques in a way that jive with your values, preferences, and needs. It’s not about them and what they bring to the table, it’s about what they have to offer and how they can offer it so you might be positively impacted.

A Solid Partnership

It’s important to shop around to find the right therapist for you. Ideally, you want someone who you feel comfortable opening up to and someone you trust to listen and offer guidance. You also want to know your therapist is competent and has your best interests at heart. Additionally, you’ll want to have open communication so you can always be sure you are on the same page and how well the interventions are working.

An Appreciation for the Process of Change

We live in an instant gratification society. We want what we want and we want it NOW. In many instances, we can get what we want quickly. But this isn’t true for real change.

For therapy to be successful, you MUST be realistic about the process. It is not linear, and it is not quick. This is particularly true if you are dealing with complex, long-term problems. This doesn’t mean you can expect to be in therapy for the rest of your life or many years. It simply means you must appreciate the reality of what you can expect and how quickly.

Setting Goals and Celebrating Small Wins

One of the key components of successful therapy is setting clear, achievable goals. These goals act as a roadmap for both the therapist and the client. It's essential to understand that while some goals can be achieved relatively quickly, others might take time. Celebrating small wins can be incredibly beneficial. It can boost your morale and motivation, making the therapeutic journey feel rewarding.

Openness to Feedback

A two-way feedback system can significantly enhance the therapeutic process. While your therapist provides feedback on your progress and strategies to handle specific situations, it's equally crucial for you to provide feedback on how you feel about the therapy, the techniques used, and any other concerns. This open dialogue can lead to a more tailored and effective therapeutic approach.

Commitment to Self-Work

Therapy sessions are just a part of the healing and change process. The real work often happens outside the therapist's office. Homework, exercises, journaling, and practicing new skills play a vital role in therapy's success. Being committed to doing this self-work can accelerate your progress.

Understanding It’s a Safe Space

For therapy to be effective, it's essential to view it as a safe space, free from judgment. It's a place where you can be your most authentic self, express your feelings, fears, and concerns, and know that they will be met with understanding and empathy.

Seeking Support Outside of Sessions

While your therapist plays a crucial role in your journey, having a support system outside of your sessions can be invaluable. This could be in the form of friends, family, support groups, or online communities. They can offer additional perspectives, encouragement, and understanding, making your therapeutic journey more holistic.

Therapy is a powerful tool for change, growth, and self-discovery. By understanding what to expect, ensuring a strong therapist-client partnership, and being actively involved in the process, you can maximize the benefits of your therapeutic journey. Remember, every individual's journey is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. The key is to stay committed, patient, and optimistic about the positive changes that lie ahead.

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