Are you wondering what you need to make the most of your Psychotherapy sessions so you can actually make life better?
If so, you’re in the right place because that’s exactly what I’ll be talking about in today’s blog post.
So let’s begin.
1) Exercise patience
As with any relationship in life, building a relationship with a therapist is going to take time and work.
That is, it takes time to build trust, it takes time to build understanding, it takes time to build connection and it takes time to build closeness.
All of which, are required for you to be able to get the most out of your Psychotherapy sessions.
For instance, think about dating, how long does it take to see the true colours of someone?
6 months, a year, 18 months, longer?
Same goes for therapy.
It takes a long time for you to reveal your true self to your therapist.
As we all have multifaceted parts of our personalities, which take time to be uncovered.
Another analogy I like referring to is that of an onion.
- with each session you have
- with each reflection and disclosure, you’re having and making to your therapist
The more layers you peel back.
And the more layers you peel back, the better.
As you can resolve (with your therapist) one layer (i.e. one difficult situation, thought and/or feeling) at a time.
Therefore, supporting you in shedding unnecessary layers of your thoughts and behaviours, which no longer serve you.
As they provide you with a different perspective, tool and/or practice to take note of and implement into your life.
And if a perspective, tool or practice doesn’t seem right for you, that’s okay.
Since you’ll be more open and receptive to the idea of implementing different perspectives, tools and practices in your life than ever before.
So when you do find a perspective, tool or practice, which calls to you, you’ll find it easier to implement.
However, you do need to give a tool/practice a good go before writing it off.
And as long as you feel a connection to your therapist and they make you feel differently, keep going with the sessions.
I once heard someone disclose in a conversation, a friend of their’s was in therapy for eight years.
Therefore, she thought it was more like a friendship, than anything.
- being in therapy myself for three years now; and
- following the discussions I’ve had with my therapist
I have come to accept, similarly to life, there isn’t a time frame for your growth and development in therapy.
As it’s a journey to finding happiness, which nobody ever said was going to be easy.
Therefore, it is important you acknowledge this and exercise patience and perseverance for change to take place in your life.
Reasons why this is a challenge for some
I know the notion of ‘recognising you are entering a relationship’ with your therapist might sound obvious, however, if you’re someone who’s not…
- experienced the full benefits of relationships previously; or
- are uncomfortable/struggle to keep relationships going
You might not fully know what to expect from your Psychotherapy sessions.
And so may misinterpret the first month or so as unhelpful.
However, the first months or so are crucial to developing comfortability with your therapist.
Since, not only are they learning about you, you’re also learning about them and how they work.
Therefore, it’s important to keep showing up week in week out.
2) Embrace vulnerability, openness and honesty
Vulnerability, openness and honesty are also essential qualities for making the most of therapy.
Since it’s impossible to know the benefits you (personally) are going to get out of therapy before you embark on the journey.
(As with everything in life).
And vulnerability, openness and honesty allow you to peel back and remove the unnecessary layers of yourself, which no longer serve you.
As those thoughts and feelings, which come from a vulnerable place and you find challenging revealing to others…
Therefore, feeling you need to conceal and hide them…
Are the ones, which you need to pay closer attention to so you can resolve them.
And, the more you can be honest about the behaviours you engage in, which you dislike…
The more support you’ll be able to get to change those thought processes and behaviours.
Since Psychotherapists can only go as far as you’re willing to be open, honest and vulnerable with them.
However, you will also receive support from your Psychotherapist on this.
As sometimes you’ll not fully understand the impact of the behaviours and thought processes you are engaging in.
So your therapist will feed you information for you to reflect on.
Reasons why this is a challenge for some
As with the first one, this might seem obvious but…
If you struggle to be vulnerable, open and honest with certain groups of people/individuals, you might not be as vulnerable, open and honest in therapy as you could be.
Or as you think you might be being.
So you might not realise this until you have been in therapy for a few months or more.
One example of my own struggle with vulnerability, openness and honesty is my fear around…
- What will I say each week;
- how will I keep it going for more than six weeks (the longest I’d been in therapy before); and
- whether something was relevant to raise or not.
As I discuss in my blog post 3 fears standing in between you and a better life.
However, what I learnt is you need to say whatever comes to your mind (in the moment).
For instance, say you disclose something to your therapist and they come back to you with a response you disagree with.
Say it. Say you disagree because of x, y, z there and then in the moment.
Or something else might come to mind as your therapist is talking. So raise it, like you would in a normal conversation.
Also, pay close attention to events taking place in your life and your reactions to them.
The reason for this is you might dismiss them as irrelevant but the reality is they need voicing.
As there is a wealth of information in your…
- day to day life; and
- relationships with family, friends, colleagues, strangers
For you to draw on and talk about with your therapist.
And let’s be honest.
The state of your relationships and how you feel overall about your life (in this moment in time) do the real talking.
For instance, if your…
1. Relationship to people
Family, friends, colleagues, meeting and getting to know new people or any group.
Is one where you feel uncomfortable sharing how you’re feeling, your opinions, likes, dislikes, wants, needs or asking for support.
And trusting you’ll be met with support, encouragement, kindness, love, understanding and/or respect.
(All which support you in developing closeness with others).
Or you don’t have any other close relationships than with your family.
You need therapy.
Since it’s the individuals/relationships you struggle to be vulnerable, open and honest with the most, you need to work on with a therapist.
And, as Esther Perel (Psychotherapist), says, ‘The quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life’.
Secondly, if your…
2. Relationship to yourself
Is one where you put yourself down, judge and criticise yourself for saying, doing or not saying or doing something.
You again need therapy.
Since these thoughts also stop you from being vulnerable, open and honest with others.
As they are fuelled by your fear of how you’re going to be perceived by that group of people.
So, you stop being your authentic self and expressing who you are fully and completely.
Lastly, if you regularly feel…
3. Lonely and isolated
You need therapy.
The reason for this is constantly feeling lonely and isolated regardless of whether you consider yourself to be:
- an extrovert or an introvert; or
- how many friends you have or don’t have
Is a sign you struggle to be vulnerable, open and honest with others.
And has the power to fuel depression.
Since, as I say in my blog post How Psychotherapy can relieve your stress we are wired for connection.
Connection, which is founded on being heard, seen and understood by the people in our lives.
So if there is something in our psyche preventing us from connecting with others on a deeper level we need to explore it fully and completely.
With the support of a therapist.
How to tell if you’re being vulnerable, open and honest enough in therapy?
In my opinion, if you don’t feel even a little bit uncomfortable in what you’re disclosing, you’re not being vulnerable enough.
Since being vulnerable with others isn’t easy.
And for people who feel they are unworthy (i.e. not good, likeable, smart etc. enough), it’s even more difficult.
As Brene Brown discusses in her Tedx Talk The Power of Vulnerability:
However, before you can be vulnerable, open and honest with others you need to trust and feel safe in their presence.
(i.e. no matter what you disclose, you will not be met with judgement, criticism, aggression, humiliation or ridicule).
And instead will be met with acceptance, support, empathy, encouragement, love, compassion, understanding, patience etc.
What stops us from feeling safe and trusting others, however, is our earliest relationships with our caregivers.
And whilst we grow up and new people/situations come into our lives and it doesn’t seem our childhood is having an effect, it is.
The feelings you would have felt as a child may still be present within your body and thus, your subconscious mind.
Therefore, preventing you from achieving what you want to achieve in your life.
And so, need you to take responsibility for resolving in your life today with the support of a Counselling Psychotherapist/Psychologist.
In particular, one who includes Emotional Freedom and Matrix imprinting techniques into their practice.
More of which you can read about in my blog post 3 powerful tools and practices that transformed my life.
There’s no doubt about it, deciding to see a Psychotherapist requires a financial commitment.
As I discuss in my blog posts:
And if you’ve been brought up with a lack of money you might be even more reluctant to depart with your money.
As a result, stopping you from getting the support you need.
I know it did me.
For instance, for me, this played out by me trying to cancel a session here and there in order to save money.
Or at least that was the excuse I told myself.
However, my therapist pulled me up on this and explained it was a subconscious pattern I engaged in every time I spoke about my father.
At first, I questioned whether my therapist did so, because of the money she was losing out on every time I cancelled a session.
However, over time I came to see she was trying to help me get the most out of the therapy sessions.
And ultimately, it showed me, what I was ‘thinking’, was only a reflection of what I was taught to believe growing up.
Not to trust anyone.
So from that moment onwards, I decided to keep showing up even when I thought ‘I couldn’t afford it’ or ‘I didn’t have anything new’ to express.
If you’re based in the UK, are unhappy with the state of your life, your relationships and are ready to explore this further see a Counselling Psychologist.
Book an appointment with your GP at your local GP centre and ask for them to print you a list of therapy practices in your area.