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10 Tips to Make Therapy More Effective

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Ashley Solberg, LMFT, Outpatient Therapist.  Are you thinking about starting therapy, and wondering how you can make the most of your sessions? Or maybe you’re already in therapy, and you want to make sure you’re applying strategies that allow you to create the best value. If so, you’re in the right place.  In therapy, goals will differ for each person. Some goals might include feeling better, alleviating symptoms from some sort of diagnosis, or changing certain behavior patterns. However, with any goal you desire to achieve, it is up to you to make changes and see improvements. Of course, a therapist facilitates the process and guides you through practical tips and therapies. But, at the end of the day, making the most out of therapy comes down to you.   To make the most out of therapy, there are several tips to implement. Keep reading to learn some of the strategies that can help.  Related: How Therapy Helps With Depression 

1. Find the Right Therapist 

First, find the right therapist for your needs. Ashley Solberg, Outpatient Therapist at Nystrom & Associates, highlights the importance of doing just that.  
One way clients can get the most benefit out of therapy is to spend the time finding the right therapist. Research has shown, time and time again, that the relationship between a client and their therapist, also known as the therapeutic relationship, makes up on average 30-38 percent of therapy being successful. Take the time to do your research.
Build an authentic connection with your therapist. Yes, this can take some effort and time. However, building this relationship invests in you and is important for effective change.  

2. Begin With the End in Mind 

Before you start therapy, think about your goals and what you want to achieve from therapy. Think about questions like:
  • Why do you want to go?
  • What do you want to get out of it? For example, do you want to learn how to be a more effective communicator, learn healthy coping skills, or love yourself more?
  • How will you know when you don’t need therapy anymore? 
If you are unsure of your goals, your therapist can help you discover what you'd like to learn or improve in your first session. Related: What Are Distress Tolerance Skills?

3. Go into Your First Appointment with an Open Mind 

If your first thought before therapy is, “This is going to be so uncomfortable, I don’t think if this is going to work out for me...” Chances are, it won’t. Try going into it with a growth mindset. This is a journey, not a destination. Everything won’t be figured out after one session. Be curious, try not to go into it with expectations, and see what happens as a result.  Related: A Fixed Vs. Growth Mindset 

4. Prioritize Therapy 

Once you’ve found the right therapist and figured out your goals, the next step is to prioritize therapy. Make therapy a priority by scheduling regular appointments. Typically, appointments are once a week. However, this might vary depending on what you and your therapist have decided would be best for your situation.  

5. Ask Questions 

Throughout therapy, don’t hesitate to ask your therapist questions. Doing so will only benefit you overall. If you’re confused about a particular method being used or want clarification, simply inquire about it. And at the start of your sessions, Ashley adds, “Don't be afraid to ask questions such as, ‘how do you think you can help me?’”  

6. Be Prepared for Your Next Session 

Part of making therapy more effective is being prepared for the next session. At the end of your sessions, discuss the next session with your therapist. This includes things like:  
  • A conversation about what you think you need to work on 
  • Any tips to implement going into the week ahead 
  • The goals you want to progress toward 
If you are unsure how to plan for your next session, ask your therapist and they will be happy to help.  

7. Keep the Dialogue Open 

To make therapy more effective, try not to censor yourself. Therapy is a safe place to let your guard down. Be honest with your therapist if any challenges come up for you and keep communication open. This will facilitate your journey and path toward your goals.   Related: How to Set and Achieve Your Goals

8. Keep a Journal Practice 

Document your experiences by journaling or taking notes. Journaling will help you process your sessions and facilitate growth. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just jot down a few thoughts and feelings. In addition, it might be helpful to bring it with you to your sessions as well.  

9. Take Responsibility, When Applicable 

To make the most out of therapy, it is important to take responsibility for your behavior and role in your life. Take note of when you have the power to change your situation or thought patterns.   On the other hand, it’s imperative to remember when things are out of our control. Your therapist can help guide you through the distinction. 

10. Continue to Work Outside of Therapy 

Work on yourself in your "real" life, not just your therapy sessions. Apply solutions discussed in therapy such as listening techniques, anxiety tips, or whatever else you need to work on. In this area, everything comes full circle when applied outside of therapy.   When challenges arise, use them as opportunities for growth. And remember, therapy is a tool used on the journey to improved mental/behavioral health, not a destination.  

A Word From Nystrom & Associates 

Whether you’re currently going to therapy or thinking about starting, these tips can help you get the most out of the experience. That way, you can focus on your goals and reach your desired outcome, whatever that may be.   If you’d like to start therapy, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our scheduling coordinators will help you find a provider that’s right for you. Call 1-844-NYSTROM or request an appointment online at any of our convenient locations.   Related:  5 Effective Stress Management Tips

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