Mental health has always been important, but awareness has brought it to the forefront. Over the past few years, more people have begun to realize the importance of therapy. Unfortunately, many people have only realized this after their mental health has suffered. It's like realizing you need a life jacket when you are already stranded at sea.
Yes, you can attend therapy and participate in it. However, just because you are sitting in session doesn't always mean you are fully getting everything out of it that you should.
Being Proactive About Mental Health
Being proactive about therapy does not just mean attending sessions. While it is the job of a therapist to help their client and meet them where they are, the client should also take an active role. By actively participating in therapy sessions, you are ensuring you will get the most out of your investment. If you need help with how to do this, let's review some proactive tips.
Tip 1: Engage With Your Therapist
It would be wonderful if a therapist could read your mind. We get it; talking about feelings, thoughts, and the past isn't at the top of our to-do lists. It's hard digging deep and being introspective. Participating in therapy requires a lot of back and forth between both parties. If you find that opening up to your counselor is hard, here are a few things to remember.
Therapy is a safe and judgment-free zone. We will never look down on you or make you feel ashamed of what you have to say or what you have been through. We truly believe there is no shame in feelings, thoughts, or past experiences.
What you say is confidential. Your words are not recorded, and what you talk about in your session is not shared with anyone.
We go at your pace. If you feel as if you should be "further" along than you are, don't let that get in your head. Therapy is not a race to see who can get better quicker. If your healing and growth are taking longer than you would want, there is nothing wrong with that because we see your progress even if you can't right away.
Tip 2: Give Your Therapist Feedback
Many people have a misconception that a therapist will know exactly what it takes to help make you feel better. We wish we did. This is why giving your therapist feedback about how they approach your treatment is important.
For example: If we are using CBT to help you treat anxiety symptoms, but you don't think it's very effective for you, speak up. We won't be offended that it isn't working. Instead, we can try a different approach. There is more than one way to cook a fish, after all!
Tip 3: Talk About The Small Things Too
Therapy often emphasizes talking about the big things in life that are happening or done. Talk about how the extra 10 minutes of sitting in traffic irritated the you-know-what out of you. Or about how worn out you felt after a long day of work and having to stop at the grocery store on the way home. To be more proactive about therapy, talk about the small things too.
Talking about the everyday situations that happened that didn't put you in a great mood, even if it was only temporary. Why? Seeing how you are handling the mundane things in life can help your therapist rethink or tailor your treatment plan to you even better.
The bottom line is this. Therapy is useful, but only when you aren't just seeing it as a magic cure-all to your problems. It's a collaborative experience that takes work and time.