"Make the Most of Individual Therapy"

Therapy is a process of change, growth, and healing. The purpose of therapy is to help you on your journey toward more fulfilling relationships and a healthier you. It is important that you receive the maximum benefit from this investment in yourself and your family.

Here are some ways you can make the most of your therapy:

Attend sessions consistently

Continuity and consistency are important to the momentum and success of therapy. Being on time for sessions maximizes your investment in yourself. A phone call is very much appreciated when you are running late or must miss an appointment. Ask your therapist if you can reschedule a make-up session.

Develop clear goals

What do you most need or want from therapy—what do you want to be different as a result of therapy? Your therapist wants to work with you to establish clear, reachable goals for change and growth. Goals are flexible and may change as your work unfolds.

Realize that therapy is not about “fixing”

Therapy is a collaborative relationship with a caring professional who is able to listen, understand, and guide you toward personal wholeness and better relationships. Your therapist is not able to “fix” you or your problems in the same sense that one “fixes” a flat tire or a bad haircut. Your engagement in the process is the most important force in reaching your therapy goals.

Apply what you’re learning

Practice what you learn in therapy during the week. If your therapist gives you exercises to do outside of sessions, do them. If your therapist recommends helpful books addressing your concerns; read them. Many find journaling a helpful addition to sessions. Talk to someone you trust about what you are learning and discovering in therapy.

Practice honest self-disclosure

Don’t hold back--tell the whole story. It is your therapist’s goal to provide a safe place for you to talk about your life challenges and self-explore. While it can feel risky to expose your life and self to another person, honest and full disclosure will accelerate and deepen the effectiveness of therapy.

Move toward self-awareness

Self-awareness is a vital key to improving relationships and is an important part of your recovery. It is difficult to negotiate change when we have little awareness of what we are doing or why. Awareness empowers us by opening us up to possibilities and choices we did not know existed.

Dig deep—engage in introspection & reflection

The journey inward can be a wonderful and liberating experience—and yes, painful and scary at times. Deep self-understanding, though, is an important part of good mental and spiritual health. In reflecting on what takes place in therapy you can gain insight into yourself, others, and your relationships.

Risk sharing your feelings with your therapist

Feelings have a very important function in the healing process. Give yourself permission to feel all of your feelings—they are welcome in therapy. Remember that pain often precedes healing and change, so stay with the process even when it hurts. Tell your therapist what you do and don’t like about sessions and use the therapy relationship to develop and practice communication skills.

Notice & celebrate little successes!

Focus on the positive changes you begin to notice; no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to you. Growth requires time. Therapy is a place to celebrate successes, find encouragement and build important momentum needed to institute lasting change. Celebrate all your progress!

Ask God for insight and hope

God is all about hope, restoration, and reconciliation. Many have found him to be the cornerstone of their recovery and healing process. Invite him to guide your passage to wholeness.

Copyright John D. Deyo 2008