How to Get the Most in Therapy

how to get the most from therapy

Once you decided you want therapy,  I would assume you did some investigating before you made your choice of therapist. And, importantly, I hope you did not make the choice because of cost. This is something worth the investment. If you have not yet decided and you are in the research stage, be sure to read my last article on How to Choose the Right Therapist for You 

So, now you’ve made your decision based on important aspects of such a choice. How do you get the most value from it? How do you make sure you do not sabotage the experience?

When you leave therapy you want to come away deeply healed, changed in ways that allow you to make healthy choices in your life. You want to feel respect for yourself and how you live and relate in your life. You want the intensity of the pain you are suffering to go away, so that you can better face whatever is your reality. You want to break the old patterns that put you in situations that cause unhappiness.

Here’s how to do it – how not to sabotage yourself by getting in your own way.

  1. Do your homework. Once a week sessions with a therapist – no matter how good – won’t cut it. Your therapist is trying to save you time and money by having you participate in your own work. If you are sincere about wanting change in your life, you need to be active in your own healing process. Look at this time in therapy as a course in healthy, happy living.
  2. Practice what you are learning. Breaking old habits is not easy. You need to live consciously. There is so much to gain – like the quality of your life!
  3. Be open to what the therapist is offering. If you have chosen well, he or she will have had have many years experience and continued training in what really works for their clients. Their approach may be different from your expectations.
  4. Give the process some time to assess if the therapy is moving in the right direction. Discuss your concerns about this with the therapist.
  5. Don’t run from discomfort. Sometimes when it feels a bit challenging, people want to quit. That is the time to work with the therapist. You may have to face some tough truths. You have had years of believing, justifying, and behaving as you do. Sometimes it’s hard to accept the fact that, in some way, you’ve participated in creating the issues.
  6. Be absolutely, completely honest. Don’t withhold information because you feel ashamed. Consider facing it as a part of your work. The therapist didn’t have a perfect life nor handled everything perfectly either. Therapists are here to help you heal – not to judge!

This is an opportunity to free yourself from what has kept you from the life you want. If it were easy, you’d read a book or accept advice from friends. This work is about your belief system and the deeper part of who you are. If done well, this therapy is your ticket to a life well-lived.

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About Paula Susan

Paula Susan, MSW, LCSW, Masters in Clinical Social Work & Psychology; specialist in Trauma and Relationships since 1982. In 1991, I integrated the powerfully transformative process of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Research demonstrates that it facilitates life-altering changes more efficiently and effectively than talk therapy alone. I teach skills such as communication and anxiety relief to improve connection with others. Over the decades, I’ve come to respect how much damage even small traumatic experiences inflict on our core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. I consider it a privilege to help my clients understand and change what has undermined their happiness and their relationships. I do it with warmth, integrity, humor, and profound respect for those who care about the quality of this small piece of time we have on

One thought on “How to Get the Most in Therapy

  1. Kathy Hardie-Williams,M.Ed, MS, NCC, LPC, LMFT

    You have read my mind with your article! These are the issues I bring up in the first session so that clients understand that from my perspective, the therapy process is an ‘experiential’ experience. In order to get the most benefit from the process they must participate and ‘bring in to the room’ whatever issues they may have with my approach, etc.


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