Three Tips to Get the Most out of Psychotherapy

Whether you get therapy at Changeways Clinic or go somewhere else, you will want your efforts to pay off.

Here are a few key principles that can make your experience with therapy particularly valuable.

1. Have a goal.

Therapy can be a powerful vehicle. But even the most powerful vehicle is of little use unless you know where you want to go. Before you attend your first therapy session, spend some time defining what you would like to accomplish. Your ideas may change once you get started, but you should at least have a starting point.

Avoid goals that are vague or too broad. It might be tempting to set a goal of never feeling anxiety again, for example. A better goal would be more specific: "I would like to have fewer than two panic attacks per week." "I would like to reduce my score on the depression questionnaire by half." "I would like to spend less than five minutes a day checking the locks on my doors." "I would like to learn to be more assertive with my sister." It is fine to have several such goals, but the more specific you can be, the better.

Generally your therapist will spend some time with you helping you identify your goals, but having some ideas before the first session will help immensely.

2. Commit yourself to the task.

Therapy is often very helpful but it is seldom easy. In order to get the most out of therapy it has to be a priority in your life. In most forms of evidence-based therapy this means selecting therapy tasks in session and carrying them out between sessions. Most of the work will have to take place in your everyday life.

3. Take notes.

It can be difficult to remember all of the things you learn in therapy, along with all of the things you plan to try out between sessions. As a consequence, it can be very helpful to bring a pen and paper to your sessions so that you can take notes.

It is also useful to have a three-ring binder into which you can place your notes, any written exercises you carry out, and any information sheets or forms that you receive.