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The idea of showing up to therapy can be a bit scary, especially if it’s your first time. Whether or not you’ve already begun, the only thing that might be adding to your problems or anxiety is the list of questions you have about what comes next.

Is it up to only you to know how to get the most out of therapy?

What role does your therapist play in propelling you forward?

And how do you even know if you’re seeing someone who is the best fit for you?

We’re glad you’re here to read today’s blog on how to get the most out of therapy. You’ve taken a huge step already to begin therapy or at least explore it, and today’s blog will help you take another step forward.

Hopefully, you’ll walk away after reading this with a little less fear or hesitation in your heart. But know that you can still fully embrace something and grow even when you’re afraid or unsure.

What you are likely certain of is that choosing to attend therapy was only step one in the journey. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be super proud of yourself right now — it’s just that there is so much ahead of you now. And somewhere deep down, you know that now is the time to put in the work.

After all, you’re investing time and money in yourself and your mental health. You will have the guidance of a professional moving forward, but you must hold yourself accountable to achieve what you seek. The thought of that is also scary and intimidating.

Am I ready for this? You might wonder.

Can I trust myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other?

What if I fail?

Each one of your doubts, questions, emotions, and concerns is valid and normal, which means you certainly aren’t alone, either. Otherwise, we wouldn’t create this blog for so many people like you to benefit from.

Now is a good time to pause, take a deep breath, and have some faith in yourself and trust in the therapy process. These 25 tips on how to get the most out of therapy in this blog will help you learn how to do just that.

How To Get the Most Out Of Therapy

Get the most out of therapy by participating actively and following these tips!

Add these 31 positive things to work on in therapy to your reading list as well. The more confident you are in the overall idea of therapy, the easier it will be,

1. Communicate with your therapist

It’s important to feel comfortable opening up to your therapist and that they’re willing to address your needs and answer all your questions. For example, if you need to understand the reasoning behind steps in your treatment, tell them to explain their rationale.

2. Set goals

Make sure you’re actively taking steps toward self-improvement. Your therapist is there to listen and provide insight, but you must want to improve yourself to be successful. So have specific goals in mind that will help get you where you want to be. Setting goals will also help hold you accountable for making progress outside of the therapy room!

3. Be realistic

Make sure you have realistic expectations about what therapy can do for you. You don’t want to end up in a negative headspace because you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to change or grow too quickly.

4. Wipe your mental slate clean

Try to approach therapy without preconceived notions about what will happen or how it’ll go—otherwise, you might miss an opportunity for growth!

5. Do your homework

You can get more value from your therapy sessions by trying to apply what you learn outside of the office. In other words, you’re not just learning for the sake of learning.

In between sessions, practice the things you talked about or learned in your last session. Take advantage of any homework or practice activities your therapist recommends. This might include things like reading books, writing in your diary or doing exercises at home.

6. Approach life with a therapeutic mindset

Seek out therapeutic activities that speak to you, whether they’re practical or emotional in nature. This could include journaling, practicing meditation, reading self-help books, or joining a support group. These are all great ways for you to continue your personal growth outside of your therapy sessions.

7. Listen to your therapist

Be open to your therapist’s advice. In many cases, the best way to get help is to listen.

Be actively involved in therapy, and don’t be afraid to ask for personal advice from your therapist. Treat them like a mentor or trusted friend you can rely on when you’re going through a tough time.

8. Keep an open mind

Take an open-minded attitude toward your therapy. As mentioned above, the best results come from being receptive to new ways of thinking and approaching your issues.

9. Identify and resolve your obstacles

Be aware of any interpersonal issues that could interfere with your progress in therapy (for example, if there’s a problem between you and your therapist). Your relationship is important too! If you feel like you and your therapist don’t click, or they aren’t helpful in some way, look for a new one. Remember that therapy is a collaborative effort.

Our article on how to break up with your therapist will take you step by step on how to do this the right way.

10. Don't be afraid to ask questions

It’s okay to feel overwhelmed or confused about what’s expected or being asked of you. If you have any concerns about your therapist or the kind of advice they’re giving, just bring it up in the next session and find a way to work together to resolve any problems.

11. Process your therapy experiences

Once your therapy sessions end, take time to process what you’ve learned. Reflection periods will help remind and motivate you to keep up the good work, such as implementing new skills or habits in your everyday life.

12. Don't give up

Don’t give up if you don’t see results right away; in some cases, it takes years of sustained effort. Keep trying if your first few sessions don’t bring the progress you were hoping for—therapy is a process, and mental health is an ongoing journey.

13. Be patient

Try to keep an open mind even if your approach isn’t working. It may take several tries to find the right therapist, or if you’re working with a professional you’ve already tried with, it might take some time to find your rhythm.

It’s more helpful for you to have at least some positive experiences with therapy than none, even if some don’t go perfectly!

14. Take notes

If you find certain topics coming up in session, or if you want to bring up something to remember during the next session, it might be helpful for you to jot down some quick notes on what was said or key points that were brought up. It’s also a good idea if your therapist recommends any activities or homework to complete between sessions.

15. Welcome in the new

Take an open-minded attitude toward therapy and be receptive to new ways of thinking and approaching issues. Keep in mind that the best results come from being receptive to new ways of thinking and approaching issues.

16. Take a breather

Therapy can be overwhelming at times. While in the end, it’s worth it, you might experience uncomfortable, lingering feelings after a therapy session. If this happens, it could be what’s known as a therapy hangover, or emotional hangover. It can last for several hours and even into the next day. Try not to plan too many things for therapy days just in case. And take some downtime either way.

17. Use the whole session time

When it’s all said and done, therapy sessions are typically more like 50 minutes rather than an hour. You’re paying for it, either way, so use this time effectively.

Plan to leave early so you have a “buffer zone” if something unexpected happens with traffic or public transportation. Once you get there, you can use the extra minutes to gather your thoughts and take some deep breaths.

18. Don't overstay your welcome

It’s not uncommon to feel attached after therapy ends—this is normal! Just try practicing being alone again and remember that your therapist is just a phone call away if you need them again.

19. Take care of yourself

Good self-care is vital for making the most out of your sessions—work on this between appointments! If you’re feeling overwhelmed or finding it difficult to manage outside stressors, let your therapist know.

20. Ask for clarification

If your therapist uses a term or phrase you don’t quite understand – or at least how it applies to you – don’t be afraid to ask away. Some therapists will assume most people know what they mean by “setting boundaries” or “behavioral patterns”, but not everyone does.

Your therapist should have no problem explaining things multiple times or providing examples or resources until you understand.

21. Prepare for your sessions

Prepare for your sessions and therapy journey in general by thinking about what you’ll do with the time you have together. Do some research on different issues that might come up in treatment ahead of time, so they’re easier to talk about during your sessions.

If you’re unsure about something, consider writing out a few questions to ask your therapist if they come up during the session. This will help ensure that you get to spend time talking about topics you think are important or pressing for you and gives the two of you more time to talk in-depth about what’s on your mind.

22. Discuss your next session

If there are any topics you want to stay away from, make sure you let your therapist know as soon as possible. Is there anything you’re curious to try or learn more about? Any therapy methods or techniques you think might benefit you? As your session comes to an end, use it as an opportunity to share your thoughts and ideas.

23. Handle the business side of things first

If you have any logistical questions, it’s best to ask before you forget or run out of time. If your therapist allows it, consider paying for the session before it starts too. Because the transition from opening your mind to then your wallet can pull your focus or pull you into a strange headspace.

24. Don't worry about the time

Worrying about the clock can be a major distraction – just focus on being as present as possible. Your therapist will guide the session, keeping track of the time for both of you.

25. Keep showing up

Finally, stay accountable for your progress and go at a pace that works for you. Remember: the best way for therapy to work is to make it a priority in your life!

How Can I Get The Most Out Of My Therapy Session

The first step to getting the most out of therapy sessions is understanding what you need from it. Are there particular issues you want to work on? Is there a relationship you’d like to repair or strengthen? Or do you seek advice and support for a current problem? How often should you go to therapy?

All these things will help guide your therapist’s approach and conversation topics. If your reading this and thinking that you know you need help but can’t pin point any areas mentioned above, we created this list of what to talk about in therapy to help find lead you down the path to success.

Be open and honest with the person helping you—they’re not a mind reader! If you’ve been keeping important or difficult things bottled up, consider sharing them during therapy; it’s way better than letting them fester inside of you.

How do I get more progress in therapy?

The most important thing you can do to get more out of therapy is to be engaged. Therapy isn’t a magic bullet, so your progress will be limited if you aren’t putting in any effort yourself.

Express your emotions and thoughts if you want to progress in therapy. Be open and communicative with your therapist and let them know what’s on your mind so they can help you make sense of it.

It’s their job to help guide the conversation so they can give you the most useful advice. So let your therapist know when something isn’t clear or when you’re struggling with an exercise and be receptive to their suggestions.

What do you gain out of therapy

Therapy allows you to work on yourself with the support of a trained professional at your side.
Therapy will help identify your strengths and coping strategies while also highlighting specific challenges holding you back.

You can learn how to address problem areas or obstacles in your life, deal with old issues in new ways, and develop useful coping mechanisms for difficult times.

Between the healing and learning you experience, it all tends to amount to a ton of self-growth. That said, self-development might be the only reason you seek therapy, and that’s a valid reason too!

How To Get The Most Out Of Couples Therapy 

Consider couples counseling when there’s a significant relationship problem in your life.

It might prove useful for each partner in a romantic relationship to attend individual therapy beforehand to learn more about themselves before dealing with any problems as a unit.

In either case, come to your joint sessions with an open mind. This is not the time for blame games or long-held grudges, so try not to bring up past grievances in the middle of your couple’s therapy unless you feel it’s relevant or is part of a constructive exercise.

Make sure both of you are on board with working together toward common goals and understanding that it takes teamwork to make things happen.

How to get the most out of group therapy

Consider group therapy when you need support from others or want to expand your social circle.

When you participate in group therapy, make sure you take responsibility for yourself and your actions. Your group therapy will only be as beneficial as you make it, so try not to fit in with what everyone else is saying out of fear of standing out.

Try to stay involved in your group by being an active participant and encouraging other members to get involved as well. You can also ask your group members outside of the group if they’d like to communicate personally on some matter.

Believe it or not, this is a significant part of group therapy! If everyone works together, the results should be much better for everyone.

How to get the most out of family therapy

Consider family therapy when you need to work through family issues or dynamics.

The best way to get value from family therapy is to come prepared with specific, actionable items on which you’d like feedback or help.

For example, if you’re seeking help to improve your relationship with your mother, come to the next session with specific questions about how she feels or what she wants from you. If you’re working on becoming more communicative with your brother, make a list of things you’d like to say to him at the next meeting.

If family members are resistant to therapy because they don’t think there’s a problem or think the therapist is against them, encourage them to go anyway and set up a meeting with your therapist before the next family session to discuss your family member’s concerns.

Try to be open and understanding about your family members’ feelings, even if they are things you don’t agree with. This is especially important if other people’s feelings are getting in the way of your progress.

Explore our favorite online therapy apps

BetterHelp

BetterHelp is an online counseling platform connecting individuals with licensed therapists for convenient mental health support.
Learn More

Calmerry

An online therapy platform offering access to professional therapists for personalized and confidential mental health services from the comfort of home.
Learn More

Online-Therapy.com

Evidence-based therapy support through interactive worksheets, live sessions, and messaging with professionals.
Learn More

FAQ

One way to go deeper in therapy is to see your therapist more often. By adding more therapy sessions to your week, you will start finding time to talk about topics that are deeper than the surface level conversations of going only a few times a month.

You should talk about anything that comes to mind when with your therapist. It can be helpful to talk about things that make you uncomfortable as well, allowing you to face the reason why they seem so hard to discuss in private.

You can never tell your therapist too much. Talk to you therapist about all the things you have hidden away in your brain. Therapy is an opportunity to talk about all the things you would never say to a friend or family member.

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