To achieve the best benefits and results from psychotherapy
You will also have a better idea of what to expect and do during your first psychotherapy session getting the maximum benefits from this therapeutic process, which usually lasts several months. Here you will also get recommendations that can help strengthen the relationship with your therapist. Remember that a proactive attitude will always be favorable t
1. Contact more than one psychotherapist
Before starting therapy with a particular psychotherapist, call several whose profile or approach you have found interesting and interview them briefly to learn about their therapeutic modality, experience regarding cases like yours, and verify if you feel at ease and could trust this person.
2. Make a list of all the points you want to cover in your first session
Write down the most relevant or critical aspects that you want to deal with through psychotherapy. You do not need to have absolute clarity about your difficulties, but it will be helpful to have some ideas about what do you want to achieve with therapy. Let your therapist know which aspects are affecting your life the most now and in what way. Any information will be very useful for your psychotherapist and become the starting point for therapy.
3. It is natural if some emotions arise
Depending on your situation, some emotions may surface with some intensity during your first session, such as sadness for example. If tears come out or you cry, it’s okay. Your therapist will support you with a receptive attitude towards your emotions and thoughts. A good therapist will never disapprove or criticize your emotions or actions. On the contrary, she or he will listen carefully, ask questions to better understand you and, at the same time, this will help you to have more clarity.
4. Make an agreement about the date and time of your sessions
Before the end of the first session, discuss the day and time of your next session with your psychotherapist. Make sure you are also clear about the frequency of your sessions, for example, if they will be weekly or biweekly.
5. Participate actively
Attend all your sessions and participate actively. Psychotherapy is a process that requires perseverance, time, effort, and dedication.
6. Set priorities and goals together with your psychotherapist
Express with sincerity and openness how you feel and what you think about the therapy. Ask questions regarding your treatment plan or process. If you notice that a session did not work well, let your psychotherapist know. Talk about ways to better adapt the therapy to your needs. Evaluate the progress of therapy, looking at the achievements and lessons learned, and set new goals together with your therapist.
7. Ask for resources that can support therapy
Asking your psychotherapist about books, websites, and other resources (workshops, courses, movies, and others) that are useful for your situation or problem can contribute to your healing process.
8. Journaling between session can be very helpful
After the session, you can write in a journal the most relevant, important, or difficult aspects, as well as those observations, questions, and interventions of your psychotherapist that have been most valuable or important to you. Writing will allow you to be aware of additional aspects that can help your therapeutic process.
9. Focus on your achievements and progress
Even if they may seem small, write in your journal about your growth process and improvements. Reread your notes from time to time, to achieve a better synthesis of the therapeutic process. This will help you get the motivation and encouragement you need when you think you are repeating old patterns.
10. Practice between sessions
Practicing some of the aspects learned during therapy will help you overcome old patterns of thinking and behavior. Observe how you are reacting and apply what you have learned as you move through daily life. Bring to your next session what you have experienced in the preceding days. In this way, your learning, healing, and growth process will become tangible in your daily life.
11. Be perseverant
Modifying your situation requires dedicating time learning how to handle negative thoughts, acquire new communication skills, better express your emotions, or process traumatic experiences. You may need to work on several of these aspects at the same time, which requires perseverance and trust in your psychotherapist during the healing process. Do not be discouraged when any session seems to be unproductive, slow or focused on uncomfortable negative aspects. These aspects may be more difficult to process emotionally but are necessary for the therapy to produce results.
12. You may sometimes feel discomfort and not improvement
Keep in mind that as therapy progresses, you may sometimes feel overwhelmed and experience more confusion, discomfort or sadness, instead of feeling better. This is not a sign that the therapy is not working, but that your psychotherapist is helping you to confront difficult or painful truths or pushing you a bit to move forward and go beyond, to an unknown territory, and toward change. In these cases, these unpleasant emotions are signs of growth and not of stagnation or regression.
13. Incorporate life habits that support your psychotherapy
Examples of healthy habits include a nutritious and balanced diet, regular exercise, time to share with family and friends, contact with nature, free time to rest or do your favorite activities, and getting enough hours of sleep.
14. Remember that psychotherapy is not a “quick solution”
Instead, it’s a gradual, deep, and progressive treatment to the problems you might be experiencing. Throughout the process, you will become aware of the many aspects that are or perpetuating those difficulties, such as repetitive negative thoughts, difficult emotional states such as depression and anxiety, or traumatic experiences of the past, for example.
15. Talk to your psychotherapist if things are not working well
If you feel that your psychotherapist is not helping you or you don’t like her or his approach, talk to him or her. Find solutions together and if this doesn’t work, ask her or him to refer you to another psychotherapist. Don’t abandon therapy abruptly. A good psychotherapist will understand when it is necessary to refer you to another person, especially when you notice that the therapy is not progressing as it should.