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Getting the most out of Therapy Sessions

I remember my first therapy session fifteen years ago. I wondered what I would say when the therapist asked me why I was there. I didn’t know where to begin. The question was asked. I answered,”I’ve been recently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, and I am having a lot of trouble getting stable. I am on some medications, but my doctor told me I needed to see a therapist. So, here I am.”

My first words to my therapist. I don’t even remember what we talked about that first session, but all of a sudden the fifty minutes were up, and I was scheduling an appointment to came back again. And I came back, again and again. I was suffering from depression at the time, and we talked a lot about my life, my family, what I was doing in the present. I was surprised, because I thought therapy meant digging up your past. It doesn’t necessarily mean that at all.

To get the most out of therapy sessions, one needs to be in touch with what is happening in the present, during the session, as well as be in touch with what is going on in one’s life. Often times people in therapy tend to dissociate while talking to their therapist, and kind of drift in and out of the room, so to speak, when subjects come up that are disturbing or uncomfortable. One needs to be very present during the sessions, conscience of all that is happening. I know that for several years I didn’t make any progress because I was so often in a dissociative state during the session, and I would not remember what had gone on when it was over. We often discussed the same topic many times because I had different answers to the questions each time. I just wasn’t “there”.

The therapist’s job is to help one find the solutions that are right for the person. Answers come from the therapist sometimes, but healing comes from within. Each consumer finds his own way through the maze of his life, at his own rate of speed. Trying to rush the process doesn’t help. Because it is a process, healing takes place in increments. Sometimes a break-through can occur with many answers at once. Sometimes, the answers trickle through very slowly. Each person is unique, and there are no rules as to how many sessions it will take to “cure” a consumer. Working with the therapist as he or she guides the conversation helps so much, as the therapist will guide to the difficult areas and seek to work on those. Working against one’s therapist is useless. If one cannot look at the difficult things in his life with the help of a guiding hand from a therapist, then perhaps the person is not ready for therapy, or is just still unwilling to give in to the changes that need to be made.

To get the most out of therapy is to enter into a partnership with one’s therapist, and to map out a plan to address issues that need to be addressed. Active participation is important. And finally , knowing where one wants to be when the therapy is over is paramount. Help is only help if it gets one to where he wants to be.