Congratulations on taking the first step toward improving your life and mental health by seeking out therapy. Because no one likes to waste time or money, and therapy is a financial investment in you and your family, I decided to write down some things that will help you get the most out of the time you spend inside and outside of counseling.
As a therapist I truly enjoy watching clients get better and some of the progress I have been fortunate enough to witness has been extraordinary. Because it is my hope that all of my clients are able to experience this type of change, I keep track of the characteristics my clients display that help them make significant improvements sooner.
As it turns out, the characteristics that make someone an “ideal” client are quite simple and anyone can implement them. I’ve found that sharing this information with my clients has contributed to greater success more quickly. Please continue reading if you would also like to get better results in counseling.
You make your appointments a priority.
If you’ve ever tried to learn a new skill or get in shape at the gym, you know that consistently is key. Frequently canceling and rescheduling appointments is going to hinder or prevent progress in therapy. It is the reason why I terminate counseling if missed appointments becomes excessive. The clients that get better the fastest come to every appointment without exception. When you make appointments a priority, wonderful things start to happen.
2) You are willing to take risks and try new things.
Any time you learn new skills, it feels strange and unnatural. If you hired a coach to hep you improve your tennis game, the way he teaches you to hold the racket would probably feel “wrong” at first but with practice it would become second nature and improve your game. I’m going to teach you skills and techniques that are going to sound weird at first, but trust me, with practice it will eventually become more natural and you won’t have to think about it. What I need from you is a willingness to at least try the skills I teach you. My ideal clients show a curiosity and an eagerness to try new things and follow through with recommendations outside of the office. I see you for 50-60 minutes each week (if I see you weekly). 10,000 minutes pass between our sessions. You will need to work hardest outside of session to see an improvement.
3) You take responsibility for your mental health.
If you went to a doctor’s office and when the doctor asked you “So, what brings you here today?” and you just shrugged your shoulders, naturally you would leave the office without having received any care. The same is true for when you visit the therapy office. Ideal clients come prepared to each session with an agenda of issues they would like to have addressed by the therapist in that session. Ideal clients make notes (either mental notes or in writing) of the improvement or worsening of symptoms between sessions. Ideal clients have clear goals of what they would like to achieve in therapy, and actively work on those goals. We will develop a written treatment plan together that will outline the goals you would like to achieve, and this will guide your treatment. Your therapy sessions belong to you; I cannot tell you what is most important for you to work on, but I can help you try to determine that for yourself.
4) You give direct and honest feedback.
The more feedback I get from you about what is working and what isn’t working, the more I can tailor my services to be more effective. I never want you to be afraid of hurting my feelings. I value honest feedback from my clients; it allows me to do my job better and allows services to be made more effective to you so that you can get better faster.
I look forward to helping you work toward better mental health and reduced stress. If we both put in significant effort, you can make just about any change.