It’s probably not a surprise to you that as a therapist myself, I’m also in therapy. I’ve seen multiple therapists – across the country as I’ve moved – and had distinctly different experiences with everyone. Having taken both roles in therapy (client and therapist) I’ve started to get some good ideas about what can hold us back in therapy. I remind myself of these items so that I can have the most effective conversations with clients and make sure that I’m getting the most out of my own therapy.
- Not sharing what you’re actually thinking or feeling. Ask yourself – what am I holding back? (I actually often ask clients this when we feel stuck or it doesn’t seem like we are really getting into what’s important.)
- Not being consistent with schedule. Like any relationship, the more you see and interact with your therapist the more rapport you build and thus the more work you can do together. Depending on the therapy approach and the therapeutic relationship and goals, it can be difficult to build rapport and gain momentum in the work when sessions are infrequent.
- Seeing a therapist who is not a great fit for you. This doesn’t mean they’re not a great therapist, it just means maybe they’re not a great fit for you. Perhaps they don’t respond in a way that feels helpful to you, or you’re looking for someone more directive (or less directive!). If you don’t feel like you have good rapport or trust with your therapist, start by talking to them about it. If it doesn’t help, start looking for someone else. Remember, one of the #1 indicator of therapeutic efficacy and satisfaction is the therapeutic relationship itself.
- You’re not sure exactly what you want to work on or what your goals are. To be clear, you don’t need hard and fast, super specific goals. But, it’s a good idea to have some idea of the progress you’d like to make or the changes you’d like to see. If you’re not sure of your goals, let your therapist know so that they can help in defining the direction of therapy and guide you in figuring out what might be most helpful to work on.
- You forget that therapy also requires work on your part. Conversations in therapy need to be taken out of therapy and into your daily life. Sadly, I can’t do this for you but I can certainly help you with it. In session, you also need to be willing to engage and be clear about what you’re looking for – if you come in and just sit there, expecting your therapist to ask a magical question that changes everything, you will likely be disappointed and feel like therapy is ineffective and unhelpful.
Still feeling like you’re not getting enough of therapy? Talk to your therapist about it, and ask for supplemental resources. If being honest or transparent with your therapist is difficult or challenging, that’s okay – practicing those conversations can be a key part of therapy. You can always start with, “I’m nervous to talk about this and I don’t know how to start.” That creates a great opportunity for your therapist to support you and to have a constructive conversation.
Questions? Reach out to me with the general questions form so I can help you resolve any lingering concerns.