Have you been seeing a psychologist for weeks and aren’t seeing any progress? Are you feeling discouraged? Scheduling and showing up for your first session with a psychologist is a courageous first step in reaching out for help. Once the excitement of attending your first session, and filling out the paperwork start to fade, you might notice that speaking with a psychologist is not the quick fix you may have wanted. The truth is, the effectiveness of therapy session is largely determined by you, not the psychologist. Some people like to think that their problems are now in the hands of a professional to fix, and this belief may set one up for disappointment and frustration.
If you are thinking about seeing a therapist or have been seeing a therapist regularly, there are a few guidelines to make sure that you are getting the most of your sessions. These guidelines will ensure that you will be constantly stepping closer to achieving your goals.
How effective would a teacher be if the class only showed up once in a while? Similar to teachers or even doctors, psychologists develop what is called a treatment plan. In this plan, you will decide how often you should visit the office for a session. This is typically agreed upon in the first few weeks of treatment. Beyond the attendance agreement, your psychologist is planning a course of action. If you fail to attend session as agreed upon, you may be missing key concepts or your psychologist may have to rush through explaining techniques. It is very common for individuals to stop showing up for session once they begin to feel better, or if a situation resolves itself naturally. Just like with antibiotic medication, you are advised to take the dosage until completed, not stop taking the medication once you feel better. Prematurely ending a therapy session can leave you feeling unprepared to tackle obstacles in the future.
Keep it Honest.
Just like at a doctor’s office, it is hard for a psychologist to determine an effective course of action if they are unsure of the symptoms. It is natural as human beings to minimize your struggles or hardships, but this will prevent your psychologist from being able to truly help! Be completely open and honest about your problems. Psychologists have a special therapeutic relationship that will protect your confidentiality in most cases. This should allow you to feel protected and safe to share your vulnerabilities with your psychologist.
Ok, so maybe not everyone will cry in their psychologist session, but confronting uncomfortable feelings is a huge part of therapy. Don’t worry about “keeping it together” or walk in with restrictions on what you will and will not discuss. These topics that make you uncomfortable, sad, angry, or resentful are usually the root of a problem. If you are not yet comfortable sharing, it is okay. Let your therapist know your hesitation, but make it a personal goal to be able to eventually share. Sometimes the simple act of talking about issues, can immensely change its impact on someone’s life.
Homework in therapy? Yes! Many psychologists will give you homework in between sessions. Assignments can vary from behavioral changes, testing out coping skills, writing letters, journaling, or other challenges to incorporate into you life. Do your homework in between sessions. If you are trying out a new coping skill, sometimes things need to be repeated multiple times before any sign of progress can be seen. Think about how many trips to the gym or healthy meals need to be consumed before you notice a difference! Many of our struggles did not develop overnight, so it is unrealistic to expect them to go away that quickly. Commit to your psychologist’s suggestions whole heartedly to begin working towards progress.
If you are thinking about talking with a psychologist or would like to give therapy another chance, book in a time to speak to a psychologist call us on (02) 6262 6157 or book an appointment online.