Success is where preparation and opportunity meet. — Bobby Unser
We all want to prepare for situations that we feel are uncomfortable or that are not familiar to us. By preparing, we hope to gain some control over the situation.
Therapy can easily become such a situation. Unfortunately, we cannot easily anticipate and prepare for every possible aspect of a therapy session.
This article may support you in preparing sessions that are more uncomfortable or unfamiliar to you.
At the same time, I hope you consider trusting the therapy process and, more specifically, yourself and your therapist. It is okay to be unprepared for your session.
In fact, sessions for which we are less prepared for can sometimes be the most revealing. This is mostly because we are open to the possibility of growth.
Ask Yourself the Meaningful Questions
Therapy is very much about being curious. Your therapist is curious to better understand your stories and what might help support you through your growth. You are also asked to be curious about your stories and feelings.
It is also important to be curious outside of your therapy session. This curiosity will also help direct your therapy sessions towards your goals.
Here are a few questions to help you to stay curious between sessions.
- What do I want to achieve through therapy?
- How do I feel about delving into these goals during therapy sessions?
- How have I progressed through therapy to date? What growth have I been able to identify? Is therapy helping or hurting at this point?
- Am I holding anything back? Are there odd thoughts that I have not expressed?
- Is my partnership with my therapist still a good one for me? How are we working together? Are we able to understand each other?
- What questions do I have for my therapist?
Take Notes to Gather Your Thoughts
Take reminder notes. If you want to remember it for next session, try recording the information somewhere safe. That way, you can continue living your life without worrying about the information as much. A therapy trick for you—keep notes for your next session in your calendar (under the therapy appointment). This way, they are handy for when you need them.
Share written thoughts with your therapist. At times, clients choose to write or create pieces of information to share with their therapist. If you create a piece that you believe would be helpful to your therapist to know in the context of your therapy, you can share this with them.
Choose to Show Up for Yourself
Be proactive. This includes creating systems for yourself to keep track of your feelings, thoughts and goals between your therapy sessions. Consider using a notebook or a password protected file to help yourself remember aspects of your story that you want to bring to your next session.
Be proud of yourself. You are investing in yourself by choosing to go to therapy. This is something that you should be proud of. You do not need to share this pride with your loved ones (although you can if you want to).
Avoid judging yourself. Like we previously explored, curiosity is important to maintain between sessions. This includes giving yourself the space to explore thoughts, emotions and stories without judging yourself. Be kind as much as possible.
Enjoy the process. Enjoy this opportunity for self-discovery and growth. Look back at the progress you have made since your first therapy sessions. Celebrate this incredible gift you are giving yourself.
Other good reads:
Tips for clients in psychotherapy: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/in-therapy/201005/21-tips-clients-in-psychotherapy
Prepare for therapy to get results: https://www.thehowtosocialworker.com/how-to-prepare-for-therapy/