A wise person knows that there is something to be learned from everyone. — unknown
Therapy can create the perfect environment for one to feel comfortable enough to explore their most difficult experiences. And in turn, this environment creates a safe space for wisdom to be shared and noted.
My experiences in therapy, both as the client and the therapist, have certainly given me the opportunity to highlight the wisdom in one’s experiences, either my own or those of others.
It is in the context of the therapeutic process that space is created to identify missing pieces of knowledge and narratives. I see therapy as a space for one to reflect and capture the wisdom hidden in life.
It is within this context that I have noted the importance of creating a pre-session and post-session ritual for myself and my clients. Here is how I have shaped the three-phase process to encourage a deeper engagement with therapy.
What does this engagement process look like?
For one, it includes a pre-session phase. This phase is about preparing yourself for your therapy session. It seems to be a forgotten, yet very important, phase in the therapy process. We will explore this in our next article.
The post-session phase is equally important. This is the phase which we will explore in this article.
The post-session phase constitutes the minutes, hours, and days immediately following your therapy session. It is a period of time in which one has the opportunity to reflect, engage and process the wisdom explored by you and your therapist within your therapy session.
To help you, we have created a free template! Take a look!
Reflect on Your Session
Reflecting on your therapy session is essential to your growth. Therapy sessions are so full of insights—many automatic, others thought through thoroughly prior to being voiced. After one’s therapy session, it is essential that the reflection process continues.
“What did I choose to focus on in this session?” is a great starting point for your reflection. Track the general topics you might have discussed with your therapist. Also note the smaller pieces of the main topics that you chose to focus on.
For example, you might have discussed relationships (general topic) during your therapy session. Within this general topic, your session could have included discussions on the evolution of your relationship with your mother over the years (subtopic).
“How do I feel after my session?” is a second question to ask yourself shortly after your therapy session and then again after a few hours to a few days. You might feel heavy from the challenging discussions you had with your therapist. This is very normal—therapy is hard work.
You could also feel lighter and more at peace. This is also an effect of therapy. By sharing some of your difficult experiences, you are relieving some of the hold it has on your life.
Whatever you are feeling, it is important that you are aware of it. This will help you be gentle with yourself throughout the therapy experience. Actually, it is essential that you be kind to yourself as you explore your therapy session by reflecting, engaging and processing your wisdom.
Write Down Your Thoughts
The second important aspect of post-therapy care is to capture your thoughts—the key takeaways from your session as well as the stories you shared that you want to remember. Here is what both thoughts look like:
Takeaways: Choose key takeaways from your session. These can be thoughts, stories, actions, strategies, next steps, etc. The goal is to capture the “aha moments” that your session offered you. This is where the magic of therapy exists—don’t lose track of it.
Key stories and thoughts: Write everything else you wish to capture from your session. If you need to, feel free to take an extra piece of paper to do so. There is value in capturing your narratives after any therapy session. It is a way to continue the hard work you did in your session.
I also suggest that you get creative here.
My go to is to write down these takeaways and stories. But there are certainly other creative ways to capture these thoughts. Ideas can include writing a song, painting a picture, creating a DND character based on the stories… Really, the options are endless.
Transfer Your Wisdom Into Action
Therapy sessions are most valuable when one chooses to take action based on the newly shaped wisdom. Here are ways for you to do this.
Prepare for your next session: Note any thoughts that you held back during your session that you wish to share in your next therapy session. Also keep track of events you wish to discuss with your therapist at your next session.
Resources: One of the most valuable parts of any session are the resources and strategies one can take away. These can serve you in your daily life or advance your overall progress. The problem is—they easily get forgotten by all. Capture them in the post-session phase of your therapy experience. This will serve as a reminder for you to look into the matter further and take action.
Post-session care: Like we mentioned earlier, sessions can leave you emotionally drained. They are certainly challenging work. Although sessions are well worth it, it is important to take care of yourself after your session. Ideas of self-care activities to do after your sessions include, but are not limited to, meditating, listening to music, taking a hot bath, doing exercises, and listening to your favourite movie. Choose something that feels good to you.
I will leave you with this: There are no wrong ways to capture your wisdom from therapy. Simply be honest with yourself and capture what you feel comfortable with.
Please note: Be conscious of maintaining confidentiality. This will look different for everyone, but it is certainly worth considering safely storing your own information before jotting down any confidential information that you don’t want others to find.
Other good reads:
Journal Therapy: https://lindsaybraman.com/how-to-journal-therapy/
Prompts for Self-Reflection and Self-Discovery: https://reflectionsfromaredhead.com/writing-prompts-for-self-reflection/