Making the choice to start therapy means that you are ready for change. No doubt, you have put a lot into this decision and want to get the most out of your experience. I have listed some common ideas to consider when embarking on this very personal journey that will help you have a successful experience.
- Choose the right therapist for you. Choosing the right psychotherapist for you is probably the single most important factor in having a successful experience. You will want to work with someone you feel positively about and that you feel comfortable with. I encourage you to set up a phone or face-to-face consultation with several therapists before you make a commitment to working with any of them.
- Be willing to commit. To yourself. If you feel that you have found the right therapist, be sure that you are in a place to commit to the process without rushing through it. It can take several sessions with your therapist before you develop an understanding of your goals and can begin to collaborate on strategies for change.
- Be honest. To get the most out of therapy you have to build trust with your therapist - which really takes being honest. When you are honest you will get to know yourself on the deepest level, which may include things you don’t want to know but need to know. Real change cannot happen if you are not being completely open and honest with your therapist.
- Have courage. Progress in therapy means taking risks. Don't worry, your therapist won't ask you to do more than they know you can! Part of the process of change is exploring new possibilities and trying new things. You will experiment with new ways of seeing and being in the world, and then decide what works best for you. Be an adventurous explorer!
- Take a good hard look at yourself. The key to living an authentic and fulfilling life is self-awareness. You have to be willing to be introspective about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and examine how well they are working for you. We can't change something if we can't see what needs change.
- Be open. Part of the therapeutic collaboration includes suggestions and opinions from your therapist. Have an open mind when your therapist shares these with you. Having an open mind means sincerely considering what they say. Listening and considering are not the same thing as agreeing. Your therapist may make an observation or suggestion that you don't agree with. That's okay - it's a normal part of the process. But, sometimes they will "hit the nail on the head" so-to-speak, and you will have something valuable to work with.
- Embody and express your true experience. It's appropriate and cathartic for you to be free in expressing your thoughts and feelings with your therapist. You may have diverse feelings throughout the experience of therapy including delight, frustration, anger, appreciation, joy, sorrow, and more. You can share whatever experience you are having with your therapist - they can handle it! Psychotherapy is meant to be a liberating experience in which you can be, feel, and express your authentic experience.