How to Get the Most out of Counseling
No one wants to waste their time, and let's face it, those office visits add up, so I decided to write this article to help you get the most out of your counseling sessions with me. As a therapist, I love seeing clients get better. Some of the turn-arounds I've witnessed have been simply amazing and I consider myself to be fortunate to have pla
yed a part in a person completely changing their lives for the better. Because I want all of my clients to be able to experience this type of change, I started reflecting on the characteristics of my successful clients. I asked myself, why is it that some clients improve so quickly and dramatically while others linger in therapy for years without making any real improvements? Was it something innate and unchangeable about the clients themselves?
As it turns out, the characteristics of clients who get the fastest results in counseling are quite simple and anyone can implement them. I've found that just sharing this information with my clients has caused all my clients overall to improve. Please continue reading if you too would also like to get faster and better results in counseling:
1. You make your appointments a priority. If you've ever tried to learn a new skill or get in shape at the gym, you know that consistency is key. Frequently cancelling and rescheduling appointments are going to slow down or prevent progress in therapy. It is the reason why I terminate counseling if missed appointments become excessive. The clients that get better the fastest come to every appointment without exception. I have heard of a client in the past whose car broke down, so he actually rode his bike through the snow for two hours to make it to his counseling appointment! This client experienced great success in his therapy. When you make appointments a priority, wonderful things start to happen.
2. You are wiling to take risks and try new things. Anytime you learn new skills, it feels strange and unnatural. If you hired a coach to help you improve your tennis game, the way he teaches you to hold the racket would probably feel "wrong" at first but with practice it would become second nature and improve your game. I'm going to teach you skills and techniques that are going to sound weird at first, but trust me, with practice it will eventually become second nature and you won't even think about it. But what I need from you is a willingness to at least try the skills I teach you. The clients that have the best experience in therapy show a curiosity and an eagerness to try new things and follow through with recommendations outside of the office.
3. You take responsibility for your mental health. If you went to a doctor's office and when the doctor asked "So what brings you here today?" and you just shrugged your shoulders, naturally you would leave the office without having received any care. The same is true for when you visit the therapy office. Clients that get the most out of therapy come prepared to each session with an agenda of issues they would like to have addressed by the therapist in that session. These clients make notes (either mental notes or in writing) of the improving or worsening of symptoms between sessions. Ideal clients have clear goals of what they would like to achieve in therapy, and actively work on those goals.
4. You give direct and honest feedback. The more feedback I get from you about what is working and what isn't working, the more I can tailor my services to be more effective. I never want you to be afraid of hurting my feelings. I value honest feedback from my clients. It allows me to do my job better and it allows services to be made more effective to you so that you get better.