Therapy is not cheap: fact. And if you’re sitting there thinking that there are about a billion other ways you could be using this chunk of money instead of on your therapy appointments, you’re not alone in that. Even knowing how beneficial therapy is, we’ve all still had that thought at one point or another (and then felt super guilty for thinking it). But therapy and mental health are just as important as your physical health and you wouldn’t be debating saving the money for something else, shopping the latest Sephora sale, or using it to pay a different bill, if what you really needed to do is get an X-ray and a cast to fix your broken arm. Mental health is important and therapy is an essential tool to help you through mental health challenges.
In an ideal world, mental health care is free and easily accessible to all who need it. Buutttttttt that’s not our current reality. Unfortunately, we need to make the most out of every single therapy appointment that we book. In this economy?? Every. Dollar. Counts. So the big question is, how do we make that happen?
Let’s take a look at some expert tips and words of wisdom from DiveThru’s own Clinical Director, Dr. Lily Le!
1. Come prepared to talk about you.
Before your session, take a moment or two to reflect on the most important person in the therapy room—you! Think about how you’ve been doing, what your major concerns are, and what you want to work on in your therapy session. You don’t have to set out a formal agenda or anything, but it is helpful to walk into your session ready and prepared to talk about what’s been affecting you. That way, you can make the most out of the time you do have with your therapist.
2. Don’t be afraid to give honest feedback or ask for something.
Therapists may be good at “reading people” (as the stereotype goes) but they’re not mind-readers. If there is something you want to work on, an exercise that you didn’t quite enjoy, or your therapist said something that didn’t sit right with you, share that with them. We know that speaking up to your therapist can be difficult but they truly want the best for you. Hearing your true thoughts on something helps steers you both closer to the right direction in your healing process. And when therapists and clients are able to work through a blip, research shows it strengthens their therapeutic relationship.
3. Try to be open, even though it’s hard.
In order to get the most value out of your therapy sessions, do your best to be open to what your therapist is suggesting or exploring. Depending on what your goals are, your therapist might ask you to do an activity that feels out of your comfort zone, like engaging in a social skills role play, doing a thought experiment to gain a new perspective, sitting through a mindfulness practice, etc. Fight the urge to shut down anything uncomfortable if the work is in line with your goals – it means you’re growing! If there’s something you’re not quite ready for, communicate that with them and you and your therapist will explore how to approach your goals in a way that is fitting for you.
4. Put in the work.
Therapy isn’t just about showing up to vent. Some days, that’s just what you need. But people who are attending sessions regularly, discussing difficult topics they might have pushed away, and reflecting and practicing what they’re discussing with their therapist both inside and outside of sessions are more likely to reach their goals faster than people who don’t do those things. The same way you have to weight train regularly to build muscle, you need to show up and put in the work in therapy to really see the results.
5. Give it your full attention.
You’ll get more out of therapy if you’re focused, reflecting, and not distracted. If you’re texting, eating a burger, or scrolling through Insta during your session, you’re only partially listening to what you and your therapist are discussing and you might completely blank on the coping tips and techniques you talked about, later on when you’re trying to remember them. No bueno. Some days you may feel extremely meh and find that your mind is wandering a lot. That’s ok. Just do your best to acknowledge it and turn your attention back to the present so that you can get the most value out of your session. If your intention is to participate fully, it really helps to put all distractions out of your reach and turn off notifications on all of your devices.
6. Loop in your support system.
People generally tend to do better when they have a support system of loved ones that they trust by their side! Instead of tackling this on your own, feel free to share your goals and progress with the important people in your life so they can support you along the way. They could be your cheerleaders when things get hard (bc therapy does get hard) or they can be your accountability partner when you know you should be practicing what you learned but you reallllyyyyy don’t feel like it. They can help you refocus when you feel like you’re getting sidetracked.
Therapy is not a linear journey and there will be days when you make tons of progress and days when it feels like you’re taking a step backwards. That’s normal! Don’t let it discourage you from working towards your therapy goals.
We think it’s really cool that you’re taking charge of your mental health and we hope this helps you get as much out of your therapy sessions as possible!