Therapy can feel confusing, and sometimes we get stuck, not knowing where to go next. Here are few tips for what you can do in your session, and how to make the most of this unique opportunity.
- Fluff the Hour. Build in time before and after your session to journal or take a few notes. We only spend 50 minutes together, but a lot can happen during that time. Show up early and allow time to notice what’s percolating in you, or take notes throughout the week about thoughts or feelings you may want to explore. After our session, give yourself time to reflect before jumping back into your day.
- Talk About Our Relationship. Exploring our relationship in present time offers some of the richest moments of therapy. Rarely do we get a chance to investigate the “here and now” in relationships as explicitly as we can in session. How are we doing? What ideas or curiosities do you have about me? What do I think about you? Is there something I said last week that stuck with you? Bring it up. Confronting your therapist with challenging feelings can actually strengthen your relationship.
- Say the Odd Thought. Therapy is a great place to get weird. Have a sudden impulse? Say it (rather than doing it). Flash to a memory? Share it. Speak freely and see if something new might happen.
- Allow Change. Often we ask for change and feel uncomfortable when it actually happens. Accept that if you are seeking change, things might really change, and it could be more than you expect. A sexual concern, an addictive habit, interpersonal conflicts – shifting these patterns may require more of an overhaul than just a simple tweak.
- Try New Things. Therapy is a great place for thinkers to feel, for listeners to talk, for the passive to try being assertive. Practice confrontation. Let yourself cry and be witnessed. Notice when you engage familiar patterns (“I’m angry again”), and talk about it. The regrets people have on their deathbeds are usually not about things they did and more often relate to the risks they never took.
- Engage and Enjoy. Therapy is like enrolling in a course in which you are the subject matter. If you’re curious, open, and motivated to do some work, it could be one of the most challenging and rewarding classes you ever take.