If you’re reading this, you’re either in therapy or thinking about starting your journey to self-discovery. Congratulations on wanting to invest in your mental health. This blog post will help you get the most out of your therapy experience. While each therapist has a different style and approach, there are given guidelines that all therapists should follow. So, what are these guidelines? The below list is not an exhaustive list, but a good place to start.
What You Can Expect from Your Therapist:
Your therapist’s main role remains neutral during your therapy. Staying neutral does not mean that he/she is not interested in your decision. Your therapist’s goal is to explore the pros and cons of each decision and help YOU make up your mind. This process will help you gain more insight into your situation and become the master of your own life. This process also helps with the growth of your self-esteem and decision-making ability.
Respect & Autonomy
Your therapist will respect you and your life choices. This does not mean that he/she may agree with your choices, rather his/her role is to remain supportive and non-judgmental, so you can explore your deepest thoughts and make changes that could benefit you.
Creating a safe and warm environment is essential to the exploration of difficult and challenging topics. Your therapist will work diligently to make you feel supported and safe. For this reason, therapy takes time. The initial weeks and months are crucial to creating a safe environment for effective therapy.
What is said in therapy stays in therapy. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Your therapist must break confidentiality if you or someone else’s life is in immediate danger. Your therapist is required by law to help protect you and others from harm. If you have concerns about this, talk to your therapist openly as it is the most common concern expressed in the initial sessions.
Your therapist will cause you no harm and their intention remains focused on serving you with their skills and professional training. At times, it may feel that your therapist is rather direct or firm. This does not mean that they are annoyed or want to disrespect you. It simply means that at times, we need a gentle push to help us make certain changes in our lives.
All therapists are encouraged and required to maintain cultural sensitivity to avoid unintentional discrimination, bias, or coming off as insensitive. Your therapist will not challenge your cultural values, but rather explore with you its function and impact on your life.
Gender & Sexual Orientation Sensitivity
Your therapist will remain respectful of your gender and sexual orientation. Your therapist is encouraged to educate himself/herself with the most recent research and information on serving minorities. If you happen to feel uncomfortable during therapy, consider addressing this with your therapist.
5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting Therapy
A factor that contributes to a better outcome in therapy is your expectations from your therapist. Having the right expectations from your therapist not only helps with a better outcome but also enhances the therapy process to be energetic and engaging. Let’s look at some expectations that will help you get the most out of therapy.
Boundaries:While therapy can be extremely warm and friendly, it is a professional relationship requiring important boundaries to remain as such. Your therapist will be genuinely engaged & empathic to you in the course of therapy. It is important not to seek friendship with your therapist, as it creates feelings of disappointment and hinders your therapy journey.
Approval Seeking:At times we wish that others would agree with our choices and decisions in life. In my own therapy, numerous times I eagerly sought my therapist’s approval and felt disappointed when he did not give the desired reaction. Remember, your therapist’s job is not to agree with whether you go with option (a) or option (b), their role is to help you come to a conclusion by yourself. This is an important process to helping you develop your decision-making skills.
Therapy Process: For the task-oriented client, therapy is expected to deliver outcomes in a short period of time. I often remind my clients that it took them years to learn certain behaviors and it requires time to unlearn and incorporate a new set of approaches. This process takes time, and it requires patience and active participation from you as the client.
Active participation:What you put into therapy is what you will get out of it. Once I worked with someone who expected me to help them feel less depressed but did not want to engage in active work. Such expectation leads to frustration on the client’s side. Here are a few suggestions that could help you become an active participant in therapy:
- Ask yourself, what is it that I am holding back in therapy?
- Am I taking risks in the session?
- Am I sharing what bothers me?
- Am I being completely honest with myself in the session?
Collaboration:While your therapist knows a lot about mental health, you’re still the expert on your own body and mind. Clients who collaborate with their therapist in formulating therapy goals have a better outcome in general. This is because a collaborative goal is more likely to be realistic and achievable for you.
In conclusion, I personally encourage you to take risks in the session. Your therapy sessions will be energetic, and you will get more out of your sessions. Your therapist is there to help you grow in your problem-solving skills and make decisions that will change the course of your life.
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