If you’re reading this article, you’re likely considering, or have already started a therapy program. With over a decade of experience as a therapist, I know firsthand that engaging in therapy is an incredibly effective way to care for your mental health. Moreover, research shows that cognitive behavioral therapy is a powerful tool for changing your relationship with alcohol. Therapy can help you:
- Process experiences
- Regulate emotions
- Develop coping mechanisms
- Establish boundaries
- Restructure thought patterns
- And more (See: why experts recommend therapy to stop drinking.)
Learn more about Monument’s online alcohol therapy options.
As impactful as therapy can be, it’s also possible to unknowingly deprive yourself of its full benefit. This is because therapy is most effective under the right conditions, and with steady dedication. Throughout the course of my practice, I’ve noted how patients can take full advantage of their sessions and truly flourish. Here are five tips for getting the most out of therapy.
Be Intentional When Scheduling
Many people assume therapy is just another appointment on the calendar, when in reality scheduling can significantly affect your ability to fully show up for your session (and yourself). Try to find a time where you are able to be fully present, aren’t rushing to and from the session, and aren’t watching the clock. Almost always, we need some time to process, note-take, or simply breathe after therapy. It can be difficult to flip a switch and go right back into the world. Give yourself this extra time, and you will find yourself getting more out of each session by giving yourself space to reflect.
Make Sure It’s A Fit
It’s important you feel comfortable with your therapist, and that you get along well with them. The truth is, not every therapist will be the right fit for you. Continuing to see a therapist who isn’t a good match means depriving yourself of the most beneficial therapy experience possible. Sensing a personality clash, feeling uncomfortable for whatever reason, or finding yourself “holding back” are all signs it might not be the right fit. If you don’t feel confident in the partnership, I encourage you to advocate for yourself and make the step to try somebody new. This is an understood part of the process, and the team at Monument will support you through it. Everybody wants you to have the best therapy experience possible.
Managing your drinking through quarantine
Check In On Goals Regularly
Goals are central to the therapeutic process at Monument. When you first begin seeing your therapist, you will discuss your aspirations and create tangible objectives. They can help you form intentional, achievable goals. You and your therapist will then check in on your goals routinely, track your progress, and discuss how to continue working towards them. We grow the most when we’re aware of how far we’ve already come. It’s important that you are honest and engaged in this process, and initiate a conversation when you feel you both need to realign. Goals can change! And it’s important that you and your therapist are on the same page.
“I very much enjoyed the guidance I got from Cheryl. It’s the most concrete guidance I have had to date on how to take small steps to have amazing results. I’m so encouraged” Read more reviews here
Do The Work
Throughout your time with your therapist, they may provide takeaways or action items to complete before your next session. This may include completing a CPT (Cognitive Processing Therapy) handout, writing in a mood journal, attending a free, therapist moderated alcohol support group, creating a relapse plan, and other suggestions the therapist sees worthwhile. Writing down notes or using the Monument message feature throughout the week is another helpful way to track how the time went and prepare for your next meeting. Therapy is only a 45 minute session, so finding the time to do the work throughout the week is how we can start implementing change in our lives.
Remember That You Are The Focus
It can be so easy for us to deflect attention from ourselves and talk about family members, world events, and so much more during therapy. Of course there’s room in therapy to reflect on how these things impact us, but we miss out on talking about our own actions and aspirations. Progressing towards your goal requires a steady focus on yourself. Then with time, the work you do in therapy will have a ripple effect out into every area of your life. Unlike any other relationship, your therapist is a completely neutral party who is there solely to offer you support. And that’s something to take full advantage of.
I hope that with these insights in mind, you will be able to make the very most of your therapy experience. Therapy can be hard work — change isn’t always easy. But with dedication, you can implement lessons and skills from therapy and gradually transform yourself and your life. Every session is a new opportunity. While your journey is uniquely yours, you don’t have to face it alone.
Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.