5 Secrets to Maximizing Your Time in Therapy
Therapy takes time to work and it isn't cheap. With these tips, you'll make the most of every minute you spend with your therapist.
Like fingerprints and ex-boyfriends, every therapist is different. Some give concrete advice, while others answer questions with questions. Some can be quite chatty and reveal aspects of their personal lives, but other therapists are mostly silent. Here’s what they all have in common though: They can’t read your mind, so they need you to work with them and play an active role in the process. Here's how.
Get recommendations from friends, and then ask lots of questions when you call to make an appointment. Consider: What’s your approach? Do you give feedback, or act as a sounding board? What’s your policy for missed appointments? Do you answer email between appointments? You get the idea. If after a session or two, you don’t feel like it’s a fit, feel free to move on to another therapist!
Angry, depressed, really depressed, obsessed, lost, jazzed, elated—your therapist needs to know all of the feels you’re feeling. If you’re new to therapy, you may not know how you feel and that’s okay. Be honest about your cluelessness. Don’t fill in a blank with “I’m great” if something more specific is hard to access. You’ll get there, with the help of your therapist. It just may take more time.
Don’t focus on your therapist’s lovely sweater or cozy chair in order to avoid discussing your fear of failure (or whatever it is that motivated you to call a therapist). She needs you to be forthcoming about why you're there, in order to help you.
Maybe you disagree with something she’s said (or not said). Perhaps you suspect she’s dozed off while you talked (on and on?) about your coworker’s nasty attitude. Or you can’t stand the overpowering smell of her office. Whatever it is, say something! Shrinks are trained to be sturdy reflectors, to take the heat. So take a deep breath and bring it on.
Sorry, but even though the therapeutic alliance exists in the realm of emotions, it is also a business transaction. So if the policy is to pay for your missed appointment in full, do it without complaining.
Yes, therapy is a relationship, albeit one you’re paying for. It may feel imbalanced at first, lopsided and downright weird. But if you show up and do the deep, sometimes painful, yucky inner work therapy requires and your shrink is worth her fee, it will be enriching in profound ways. Worth the bucks. Trust me; you’ll be paid back in ways that are priceless.