Tips for Success in Therapy

How do I make sure therapy will work for me? I cannot absolutely guarantee that therapy will work for you, but just like you, I want you to succeed. And believe it or not, many people do not need to spend years in therapy to notice significant change: Sometimes eight sessions is enough (this doesn’t apply to everyone, however; some people need longer-term therapy). Here are some critical factors that influence the success of therapy:

You. Personal change is hard work. Success in therapy requires a time investment: In addition to regular meetings with your therapist, the time you spend working on things outside of therapy is important. Success in therapy also requires an emotional investment: This can mean feeling uncomfortable, talking about painful information, working on difficult exercises/tasks with your therapist, and of course being honest about your concerns (which can be very hard). Many people who enter therapy are anxious about it, and may even question whether it will work or not. If you have these concerns, please bring them up with your therapist. Motivation to change, belief that change is possible, and willingness to work hard are critical for successful change.

Your relationship with your therapist. The match between you and your therapist is critical. Think of it like a power tool—your therapist’s skills may be the tool itself that will help you change, but the power that fuels the tool comes from your working relationship. And that relationship can improve, even if you don’t hit it off right away (or even if you do!) This is why I will ask you for your feedback at the beginning and end of sessions. Your ongoing feedback about your experience is essential, and helps to improve your working relationship (if it doesn’t, we will work to find you the clinician who is right for you).

Your goals. Setting realistic, specific goals is important. Your therapist will help you define your goal(s) for therapy, along with timelines for achieving them. There are often multiple ways to achieve the same goal (such as reducing depression). Your therapist will review specific strategies that are shown to help achieve your goal, and will also want to know what you think will help. Together, you will come up with strategies, steps, and tools to achieve your goals. Your ongoing feedback will help you & your therapist determine what works best for you.

Your strengths. People struggling to solve a problem and/or feeling distressed often lose perspective about their strengths and skills. In fact, some people who enter therapy firmly believe that they have few, if any, strengths or skills. Part of my job is to help you identify and build on/expand your skills, and find ways to use these to your advantage to reach your goals. I look forward to working with you. Together, we can collaborate and succeed in achieving your goals.

Your social support. This may be a reason why you have decided to enter therapy (i.e., needing more social support). Therapy is frequently more successful when you have good social supports, or if you don’t have them, when your therapist is able to help you develop good social support.

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