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How to get the most from your therapist

You may have spent years suffering from anxious thoughts, a critical voice or suffering from imposter syndrome. Whether you're dealing with anxiety, depression, relationship problems, or any other issue, therapy and counselling can be an incredibly effective tool for improving your overall well-being and could be life changing!

Here are some tips to hopefully assist you get the most out of your therapy sessions. Counselling can be an expensive commitment in times of time and obviously cost. However it can be worth it (I know I would say this :) but genuinely could make a huge difference to your life.

1. Find the right therapist

Sounds obvious? But there are so many counsellors and therapists it's difficult to know where to start. The first step in getting the most out of therapy is finding the right therapist for you. Some tips from my own experience. Look for a therapist who specializes in the issues you're dealing with. Some counsellors will specialise in exactly the issue you are dealing with. When you contact them, ask them their experience. I know I (and other counsellors) will turn down clients where we do not have the relevant experience. Our overall aim is to help you. I'd also recommend speaking to more than one counsellor when you're researching. This gives you context and will enable you to judge who feels right when you first talk to them. Will take an extra hour but will be worth it.

2. Be honest and open

One of the most important things you can do in counselling is to be honest and open with your therapist. This can be challenging, especially if you're used to keeping your emotions and feelings hidden and to yourself. However, counselling is a safe space where you can be vulnerable without fear of judgment or criticism. The more honest and open you are with your therapist, the more effective your sessions will be.

3. Set goals

Before you start therapy, it's a good idea to set some goals for yourself. Think about what you want to get out of therapy, and what changes you want to make in your life. Your therapist can help you work towards these goals and measure your progress along the way. Having clear goals can also help you stay focused and motivated during therapy. It's also ok if these change during sessions. I know from working with clients that sometimes these goals change. That's ok and expected.

4. Be consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to therapy. Try to attend your sessions regularly, and don't skip appointments unless absolutely necessary. It may be tempting to avoid counselling as it may be painful. However that's sometimes where the work is.

5. Try to do the work outside of therapy

While therapy can be incredibly beneficial, it's important to remember that it's just one part of the puzzle. To get the most out of therapy, you should need to do the work outside of your sessions. This might include practicing mindfulness, journaling, or working on specific exercises or homework assignments your therapist gives you or you agree with your counsellor. It may even be as simple as taking time out to reflect on your last session and write down some reflections on your phone or notepad.  I often speak about micro risks with my clients. These are activities or events that give you a weird feeling, that you want to avoid but ultimately will provide you with growth.

Remember that therapy is a collaborative process, and your therapist is there to support and guide you, but ultimately, it's up to you to do the work.

6. Give it time

Therapy is not a quick fix, and it's important to remember that change takes time. Be patient with yourself and the process, and don't expect to see results overnight. It's normal to feel uncomfortable or resistant at times, but remember that this discomfort is often a sign that you're making progress. Stick with it, and trust that the work you're doing in therapy will pay off in the long run.

Overall counselling and therapy can be an incredibly powerful tool for improving your mental health and overall well-being. By finding the right therapist, being honest and open, setting goals, being consistent, doing the work outside of therapy, and giving it time, you can get the most out of your therapy sessions and make positive changes in your life.

So now you have discovered some tips on how to get the most from therapy, how do you choose the right therapist?

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