The year that we have been through has been… Strange, to say the least.
With the pandemic seemingly settling down and things reverting to the new normal, many people find it hard to readjust to the way things once were, especially if you have lost someone important to you during this horrible time.
But, even if you and your loved ones have made it through the last dozen months unchanged, it is almost definitive that your mental health has taken a toll.
Due to awful news coming every day and the constant atmosphere of fear and anxiety, almost anyone could benefit from getting into therapy.
But, you might be wondering how to get the most out of therapy. Read on to find out what to do, what to say, and what to expect from your therapist to make the most of your therapy sessions.
Choose a person that suits your needs
There are many types of people and many kinds of therapy. For example, you choose between Buddist psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, exposure therapy, interpersonal therapy, music therapy, psychodynamic therapy, animal-assisted therapy, and many more—varying therapy types work for different issues and for different folks.
When you decide to start going to therapy, consider who you feel comfortable taking advice from. Maybe you need a parental figure to guide you. Perhaps you are the type of person that responds well to tough love. Maybe you need a mentor-like individual. The age, gender, or sexual orientation of your therapist might be an essential factor to you.
The pandemic has also made online therapy much more popular, so nowadays most therapists can also help you through video calls or even phone calls.
Whatever you need and whomever you feel the most comfortable talking to, consider that when choosing the right therapist for you.
Understand that therapy is a collaboration
When you go into therapy, don’t expect your therapist to simply tell you what to do and offer magical solutions to all of your life’s problems.
Therapy can be tricky, but you should understand that you will only get from it as much as you are willing to give.
Think about what you want to get out of therapy. Then, ask yourself why you have decided to start therapy sessions right now and not a week, a month, or half a year ago. What changed in your life? What are the circumstances that have become better – or worse – enough to make you decide to seek help from a professional?
Also, understand that therapy is more than just talking out your issues with someone you are not close to. A good therapist will help you identify your problems and find permanent solutions to them or give you strategies and tips on how to solve those issues in the real world.
Telling someone to be honest with their therapist is easy. The tricky part is getting past the need to self-censor and open up to someone. But you can and should do it.
You should know that therapy is a safe space for you, a place where it is OK to be vulnerable and emotionally honest. Only by letting yourself step out of your comfort zone will you be able to grow and heal, and that is what therapy is all about.
Keep in mind that the more sincere you are with your therapist, the more they will be able to help you. Some things are difficult to be frank about, even in the safe environment of a therapy session, but make an effort to speak openly about anything bothering you. It will be worth it in the long run.
Remember that your work is not done once the session is over
A good therapist will help you build skills and knowledge that you can apply in real-world situations. But all of that work will be in vain if you don’t continue your work outside of the sessions.
To apply all the newly gained skills, you are going to have to put yourself out there. This might mean facing an unpleasant situation that gives you social anxiety or making that phone call you have been dreading for days.
Sometimes, instead of focusing on a single task, you will have to make general changes in how you behave and change your general outlook on some situations or problems in life. What is essential is to know that you can do it.
Find an outlet such as yoga and meditation or creative and community work to help you get a bit of that burden off your chest if you have to. Do whatever you can to make the change that you have been talking about during therapy part of your real life.
Know that you are the one in charge
This piece of advice might seem similar to the one given above, but it bears repeating – you are the one who is in charge of your mental wellbeing in more ways than one.
If you and a therapist simply cannot make a connection or if you simply do not feel comfortable sharing your problems with them, it is entirely OK to walk away and seek another opinion.
Trust your gut. In most cases, the initial session will be enough to tell you if that therapist is the right fit for you or not.