You want to get on with your life, feel independent and well-resourced—emotionally, spiritually, mentally, financially, in all of the ways...
But talk is not cheap and time is not unlimited. So how can you get the most out of your investment in therapy without heading to Splitsville before you’re ready?
While I realize these to be truths—the limits to time and money—I’m also aware of a powerful shift that can take place when you start to view therapy as an investment that pays dividends for the rest of your life.
Transformation, healing, reconnection with yourself and others: if you want ‘em, they’re yours, and therapy can help clear the way. So how do you make that ROI really sing? First, shift to the investment mindset. Then make sure your practical needs are being met:
- you have researched therapists and gotten referrals so that you can find the right fit
- you can afford it (out of pocket, through insurance, or via low-cost local agencies)
- you view therapy sessions as valuable time and can arrange to arrive on time, every time because it is your self-care priority
And once you’ve found a therapist?
Here are 5 Tips to Consider for Getting the Most out of Therapy:
1. Feedback Should be a Two-Way Street: The first rule of therapy is: you DO talk about therapy, (with your therapist)…
Such a very meta conversation, and such a game changer for the course and duration of your work with your therapist. Your provider will likely ask you periodically how things are going for you, and this is your chance! Ask questions, say what works for you and what does not, inquire about how he or she sees things going. Make sure your goals are aligned with the goals your therapist has in mind. Get specific but exercise flexibility, knowing that life intervenes and disrupts plans and goals from time to time.
2. Don’t Give Away Your Power: With great EMpowerMENT comes great SELF-responsibility...
It may be tempting to look to your therapist as the expert in your life or the holder of all the answers. But any therapist worth her salt will tell you: you are the only expert on your life and you are the one who truly holds all of the answers. Don’t let your ego’s fears drive you towards complete dependence on your therapist. Ask for tips on how to get more in touch with your inner wisdom. It’s in there. You may just need help tapping into it.
3. Don’t Let Frustration Fester: You (and your therapist) CAN handle the truth…
If something bothers you about the way that therapy is proceeding, summon the courage to tell your therapist. You can start by saying “I have something awkward/uncomfortable/etc that I wanted to mention,” and let the conversation unfold from there. By nature, (most) therapists are insightful, self-responsible, compassionate people who want to help you in the best way possible. Not letting your therapist know when something is irking you is just unproductive. Festering can lead to 1) shutting down and giving up altogether, 2) getting mad and randomly hopping around from therapist to therapist, 3) doing superficial work, and more. In the end, these are all outcomes that are just not worth your investment. So summon the courage. Your therapist can handle it.
4. Be Wary of Therapy Going on Forever: May the force be with you, as it probably has been for a while now…
For a very select few out there, therapy can be a lifelong thing, given special circumstances or diagnoses that require it. But, for most, therapy can be a time-limited element to your self-care routine. If you’re concerned that you’ve been going to therapy for too long, bring this concern to your next session! You and your therapist should be discussing your progress and goals frequently throughout treatment. Ask yourself if you’re depending on these weekly sessions instead of relying on your own good judgment and coping abilities. Notice if the tone of therapy seems to be conversational vs. goal-oriented; in other words, sometimes when the work is done, the work is done. Trust yourself to know when it might be time to take a break or slow the pace.
5. Be Mindful About Ending Your Therapy Too Early: Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in therapy anymore…
Perhaps you’ve done a large body of work on yourself and you’re feeling really pleased with the ways things have progressed. That is really something to celebrate and honor! But, if you have a significant trauma history, you and your therapist should discuss the proper phases to therapy which include a “tapering down” of sessions. This typically occurs once you both feel your work is coming to a healthy, productive ending (more on that in a minute)
Ending therapy prematurely—even when you’re feeling truly great—can be risky, depending on your background, coping skills, trauma history, and mental health concerns. In the past, early termination has been referred to as a “flight to health,” while in recent circles, it’s sometimes called “spiritual bypassing”. I prefer to see it as a person’s natural tendency to take great steps forward in their personal care and well-being, while believing their work is done.
However, the risk comes when a new life event takes place and your ability to cope gets compromised. You may have already stopped scheduling appointments, or your recent upset has made you feel too ashamed to contact your therapist, so you 'ghost' on her. In either case, I promise that your therapist wants to hear from you to set up a time to regroup and process what’s going on—and where to go from there. Sometimes this conversation involves matching you with a new therapist; sometimes it’s about picking up right where you left off without judgment.
Stepping down to every other week, and further tapering down from that point is a great way to ease into a “maintenance phase”. Here, you can check in monthly or as needed after therapy has concluded for any “tune-ups” or check-ins you might need. Additionally, with any major life events that might occur down the road, it’s just nice for most people to know they have a therapist to consult with should they need her.
Remember: the end goal is to get you to a place where life’s ups and downs no longer send you to such heightened levels of distress… to empower you… and to make the most out of this very brave investment in yourself. A healthy and appropriate ending to therapy is key.
Already in therapy? I hope that going through these tips can help you evaluate where you are and where you want to be heading. If you’re looking to start therapy, preparing to end, or just evaluating where you are in the process, you can download My Postive Therapy Outcome Checklist.
Therapy is an investment of time, money, and self. Treat it as such. You deserve it. As always, I welcome any questions or comments you may wish to share.
Be well, take care, and Happy Spring(!!!),
For a free phone consultation to learn more about working with Jessica, click here.