Therapy can be an unsettling proposition. Many people are not quite sure what to expect. Some fear that a therapist is going to point out their faults and hold them to task, tell you to leave your partner, job, etc. (big no no...we help explore and you decide). While therapy is all about change, particularly changing in a way that will help you achieve your objectives, it's not about criticizing you. It is about honesty, however. Sometimes clients will spend time trying to "impress the therapist" or prove that a family member is a problem. This isn't particularly helpful. Once you decide you're ready to embark on therapy, the best approach is to come in and lay it all out. Therapists hear a lot, and we are also listening in a way that differs from other relationships and social interactions, so there's not any use in trying to craft a narrative for us--that would just be a waste of your money and everyone's time. Therapy is a place to be vulnerable and that's difficult; it takes courage, no doubt. Here are a few tips to make the most of therapy:
Focus on yourself, clean your side of the street
Pay attention to patterns of behavior over the minutia of stories (your therapist should be too)
Blame is useless, again focus on your part
Try a new way, if it doesn't work, okay, try another
Have realistic expectations. change is slow, therapy takes time
Be accountable, after all, you came to therapy because something isn't working, so change is necessary
Clients who progress the quickest are ones who are as honest as they can be (with the understandings they have of situations), who look at how they behave and think rather than focusing on another, and who implement changes, often small but effective. While some venting is to be expected, week after week commiserating is not the work of therapy.
About the author: Dr. Melissa Hudson has been a Plano licensed marriage and family therapist since 2012. She also helps those contending with anxiety and depression as well as families. Conveniently located near The Shops of Legacy, Dr. Hudson is convenient to Frisco, Richardson, Allen, McKinney, and The Colony. You can learn more about her work here.