Making the decision to enter into counseling or relationship therapy can be difficult and frustrating. It is a time of many questions and many uncertainties. Once the decision is made and a counselor is chosen the process begins. This article is written to give some suggestions on how to initiate the process and to offer some tips to make better use of your time. It is my hope to encourage anyone seeking assistance to take responsibility for their individual change during the process. The following are some ways to “get the most out of your therapy.”
1. Have a realistic sense of what you want to accomplish and what you will be prepared to do to obtain the desired outcome.
2. Be prepared to make some new choices and difficult trade-offs.
3. Use the past only for information and not expectation for the future.
4. Avoid focusing on the problem of the day, (i.e. putting out fires) as that is an ineffective way to bring about sustained change.
5. Have something to talk about at each session. A written list might be handy.
6. Prior to each session, reflect on what initially brought you into therapy. This can avoid getting you off track and help keep the focus on the solutions you are seeking.
7. Think about your own next step to support your objectives and focus on what you are trying to achieve. (In couples therapy it might be the kind of relationship you wish to create or the kind of partner you want to become.)
The bottom line: If you were planning a business meeting there would most likely be an agenda and expected content to discuss. It would be inappropriate to call a meeting and then say: “Well I don’t have anything to bring up today. Does anyone else have anything on their agenda?
Above all talk with your counselor/therapist and ask the questions necessary for you to feel a level of comfort and trust in their approach. The more involved and interactive you are in the process the more rewarding the results will be.