Okay, I give up. How can you be a good consumer of Psychological services without really trying? Here at Life Skills Resource Group in Orlando, it seems to me that there are a few things (seven, to be exact) that you absolutely have to do in order to be successful in therapy, i.e. get something lasting out of it for the money and time you put in to it.
1.First of all, as Stephen R. Covey wrote in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you need to “begin with the end in mind.” Have a specific goal(s) that you want to work on when you begin your search for a therapist. The more you are able to clarify what is bothering you right now and what you want the future to look like, the easier it will be for you to find the right person to help you achieve your goals.
2.Do your homework in finding a therapist. Although I know people who have had success with going online and picking the first therapist they found in their zip code, this might not be the best course of action. Granted, if you’re in a crisis and desperate for help, time may be of the essence. Barring that, you should at least read the bios of potential therapists and narrow it down to three or four choices, based on the therapist’s specialty, theoretical orientation, experience, cost, and location. Then call each one and briefly discuss your issue(s), while focusing on whether or not you feel that you could build a therapeutic relationship with this person. Choose the one you feel the best connection with.
3.Once you have found the therapist whom you determined to be the best fit for you, make and keep your appointments. Someone who is constantly cancelling and rescheduling their appointments is missing opportunities for growth, preventing others from being able to schedule that time, and probably sending their therapist a signal that they’re just not ready for therapy.
4.Be open and honest with your therapist. Your therapist isethically and legally bound to keep your sessions confidential. The more you can be your true self and reveal your feelings, beliefs, and experiences; the more you will be able to co-create strategies for dealing effectively with your issues and reaching your goals. A therapist is not in the business of passing judgment, so let yourself off the hook for awhile and let the real you be seen and heard. Take off the mask. Enjoy being heard.
5.Remember that the therapist should not be working harder than the client. It’s the therapist’s job to make sure that you make progress, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. You’ve heard the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink?” Well, a therapist can also present a client with all the latest theories, resources and support for the situation they’re in, but that doesn’t mean the client is going to use them to make a better life for herself. It is up to you, the client, to make use of the tools and materials you are given. Do the work. There is no shortcut. Having said that, the therapist should do their part by developing a treatment plan to address your goals through research based best practices as they relate to your presenting problem(s).
6.Maintain your own confidentiality. Just as your therapist will not be divulging your personal information to anyone else, it is your right and your choice to tell or not tell anyone that you’re in therapy. Confidentiality is for your protection. Take advantage of it. There’s no need to reveal to others what’s being discussed with your therapist-or that you’re even in therapy. Too often well meaning friends and family members will tell their loved one who has made the decision to seek therapy that “there’s nothing wrong with you,” or “therapy is for crazy people.” They’ll ask “So what did you talk about? Did you talk about me?” You don’t have to answer. While they’re trying to be helpful, they may be uncomfortable with the idea of “telling secrets to strangers,” and call into question your need for professional support.
7.Don’t be afraid to tell your therapist if at times you don’t agree with them or their approach. While your therapist may be a trained professional, he or she is not a god-like super being. Your therapist is just like any other person who provides a service for which you pay. You should let them know if you feel that there is a problem. Collaboration is the key. If you don’t feel comfortable telling your therapist that you don’t like the way things are going or something they’ve said, then you’ll probably just stop coming to therapy anyway. Instead of never coming back and feeling more lost or hopeless, wouldn’t you rather have a troubleshooting session, even if the problem might be you?
The bottom line is: Therapy can be wonderfully beneficial.Stick with it, even if you start to feel better- especially those who have a clinical diagnosis that requires medication management. Your success is up to you. I have a feeling that if you’re reading this blog, you’re the kind of person who is in the habit of beginning with the end in mind, and that’s the first step. Kim
To read about Our Team of counselors available for a FREE phone consultation at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando.