How to Have a Productive Therapy Session

Have you ever wondered what a therapy session looks like? I see a number of people that have never been to therapy before and often find myself discussing myths of therapy and how a typical session with me happens. In this short post, I wanted to cover some basic information on how to prepare for a good session with your therapist whether it is your first time or you have been struggling to have productive therapy sessions.

Every therapist conducts their session a little differently and sometimes how they conduct their sessions depends on their theory of therapy. Personally I lean heavily towards a cognitive behavioral stance when working with most of my clients. However, I use Gottman’s approach with most couples I work with. Your therapist may have an entirely different approach to counseling so make sure you ask them for some advice about how to get the most of your session(s) with them.

Therapy is a unique relationship between the therapist and the client where the therapist’s job is to help you obtain your goals. A therapist does not create goals for you.  A therapist does not tell you how to reach your goals. Rather, the therapist works to help you uncover the best ways for you to reach your specific goal(s). We do that by talking. I know, I am being very simplistic, but many times it is as simple as talking through your problem that helps you solve it. Although I do not, some therapist may practice hypnosis as a form of therapy. Sometimes clients can become frustrated with what is happening in the therapy room. There are a number of reasons this might be; not having a good relationship with the therapist, not completing homework assignments, and not preparing well for your session.  Here are some tips for preparing for your therapy session:

  1. Try to come to the session with a clear problem. Perhaps the problem is that you don’t know what the problem is, just that there is one. Your therapist can use the session to try to help you uncover what the problem may be. If you know what the problem is, come to the session ready to discuss it.
  2. Think through a brief statement you could make that tells your therapist how you have been feeling in between your sessions. If you are couple your therapist will want to know about the relationship between sessions.
  3. Be prepared to talk about positive and negative experiences in between sessions, especially those that are pertinent to your specific goals, what you have been working on with your therapist, and your treatment plan.
  4. Be prepared to discuss what might be coming up that you are concerned about. Perhaps you have an anxiety provoking event coming up and you want to discuss it with your therapist.  Make sure your therapist about some strategies that will help you manage your anxiety during that event.
  5. Finally, but not necessarily the last thing you should discuss, is any homework you were assigned.  Discuss with your therapist whether you were able to complete, what you may have learned, and whether you had any problems completing the assignment.

Therapy can be very helpful. It can also be very frustrating if you are not working with the right therapist and you are not preparing well for your sessions.

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