Want to set yourself up for success in therapy? We’ve come up with two top tips for you.
We guarantee that talking through these topics will make your therapy relationship stronger!
Tip One: Ask how to provide feedback.
Your therapist may be smart, but he isn’t a mind reader. Telling him what is and isn’t working will help you make the most of your appointment.
So, how to do it? We recommend asking your therapist how he prefers to receive feedback. If possible, do this during your first or second therapy session. In our experience, asking upfront is way less uncomfortable than asking when you have a specific piece of feedback.
What counts as feedback? You can bring up things like payment or scheduling. Do you want to pay at the beginning of the session rather than the end? Tell your therapist! You can bring up the way your therapist responds to you. If you feel like he doesn’t listen to your concerns, or judges you, let him know. You can talk about your progress. Do you feel like you’re not getting anywhere? Or, do you feel like you’re moving too fast through important issues? Again, speak up.
Even if the conversation is awkward, remember that feedback is a gift. You are helping your therapist become better at his job. Additionally, you’re becoming a better communicator yourself. You’re practicing giving feedback in a safe space. Over time, this will help you communicate better with coworkers, friends, and family.
Tip Two: Talk about fit.
We believe the fit between a therapist and a patient is really important. We’re not alone – in fact, studies have shown that the strength of the patient-therapist relationship accounts for 70% of the success of therapy. That said, fit can be hard to get right.
It’s like dating. You wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t end up marrying the first person you match with on Tinder. Finding the right therapist can be a little like finding the right partner. Unlike a blind date, though, your therapist has a professional responsibility to help you find a better match.
You may know right away if it doesn’t feel right, but it will usually be clear after the first three sessions. Sometimes you’ll feel uncomfortable with your therapist. Sometimes she’ll feel like she’s not equipped to help with your particular issues. Either way, your therapist should work with you to figure out why it isn’t a good match, and recommend other therapists.
It's always easier to talk about this before it is an issue. At some point during your first session, ask your therapist what will happen if the two of you aren’t a good match. At the end of the first session, ask them if they feel like it’s a good match, and tell them if you have any concerns. Finally, avoid ghosting if at all possible. Not only will the therapist worry about you, you’ll miss out on recommendations for other therapists to work with.
We hope these tips help you make the most of therapy! Once you've tried them out, let us know how it went by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a more comprehensive guide on starting therapy, click here.