Ways to Have a Positive Experience with Therapy
It’s not uncommon for some people to stop therapy after going for only a short time. The most common reasons we’ve heard over the years from our clients are: they didn’t like or bond with their therapist, didn’t find therapy effective, and or felt it wasn’t worth the investment.
For those of who can relate to this experience or if you’re considering starting therapy for the first time, here are some things you can do to create a positive therapy experience:
- Find a therapist who meets your needs! In today’s age of technology, so many therapists can be found with a quick Google search, on different social media platforms, and other directories like Psychology Today or Good Therapy. You can use filters to find matches based on gender, age, rates and insurance benefits, in- person vs. Telehealth, what issues they specifically work with, and so many others.
- Ask people you trust for personal recommendations. If someone in your inner circle has had positive, effective results in therapy or knows someone who has, simply ask them to refer you.
- Speak your truth! Don’t be afraid to tell your therapist what you need, which includes the approach they’re taking. For example, it’s okay to ask your therapist to be more direct, or share with them that you’re honestly not ready to complete some of the therapeutic assignments they may have suggested. You are the expert on your life; your therapist is the fellow traveler on your journey! Sometimes the reason for not getting the results you’re hoping to is because your therapist isn’t the right fit for you. It’s important that above all else, you build a positive, trusting relationship with your therapist.
- You get out of it what you put into it. Another reason you may feel stagnant in therapy is if you’re not sharing all the pieces of the puzzle. The role of a therapist is to help you identify underlying root causes and make connections to help resolve your presenting problem. If you limit what you share based off of fear, shame, guilt, or even denial, then they don’t have all the information needed to help you heal. You may think that if you ignore those details that can create negative emotions, like shame or guilt, that it will eventually go away. Incorrect. The things you may be stuffing down are likely part of the root cause of the undesirable symptoms you’re experiencing and can manifest in a variation of ways, such as anxiety and depression. The symptoms can be temporarily managed with coping skills in the short term; but we’re here to help you explore, identify, and process root causes so your present symptoms don’t continue to manifest in other ways.
- Follow your therapist’s recommendations. It’s common for therapists to give “homework assignments” after each session to enhance your therapy process. The change you’re hoping to gain begins outside of session—when you start doing things differently, making small changes, thinking differently, setting boundaries, etc. It takes motivation and effort to implement these changes and practice the tools you’ve learned in session. If you don’t follow through, then you may not make as much progress as quickly as you would like, and as a result get frustrated with the therapy process. (If you’re not feeling motivated or having difficulty with following through, it’s okay! Just let your therapist know how you’re feeling so they can tailor their approach to meet your goals, strengths, and needs.)
No matter where you are on your therapy journey, remember that it’s completely okay (and encouraged) to advocate for yourself and ask questions. Not all therapists are created equally; having different strengths, personalities, and areas of expertise, so finding one can be a daunting process and might require some “shopping”, like you would do for a car, house, or any other major investment in your life.
It might take a while to find someone who you click with and makes you feel comfortable opening up to, which can be discouraging, especially if you have previous negative experiences with therapy. Don’t give up and keep looking though, because your next therapist could be just a click away!