Maximizing Therapy

Maximizing Therapy

Person engaging in teletherapy

Have you wondered why excellent therapy can seem expensive?

Do you want to get the most out of the therapy process?

By the time a new therapist graduates from their masters program, they have spent more than 600 hours in graduate level classrooms taking courses dedicated to the art of helping people with life problems.  They have sweated almost 2000 hours on homework and completed 1000 hours of supervised internship.  All at a price tag of over $35,000 (minimum).  Upon graduation, they must work under supervision for at least two years, complete an additional 1500 hours of client service and pass a national competency exam.  When you show up in a therapist’s office, or log on to their teletherapy platform, you are meeting with a highly trained clinician who is there to help you reach your mental, emotional, and relational health goals.

Therapy is an investment in your future.  Since insurance companies will not cover therapy for life issues (there must be a mental health diagnosis), many pay for this vital care out-of-pocket.  Even with support for the cost, there is a significant investment of time establishing rapport with a therapist and digging in to the work.  With that in mind, here are tips for getting the most bang for your ‘buck’!

At Phenix, we generally follow a steady arc in therapy: establishing safety, deconstruction of the old story (how did we get here?), grieving and then constructing the new story.  We’ll look at tips for each stage but before we go there, here’s a foundational principle:

Recognize that therapy is just one hour out of 168 or one hour out of 336 if sessions are biweekly!  Clearly, a lifetime of thinking and behaving a certain way will not be fixed in such short bursts.  That means we must be ready to dedicate time outside of sessions to working on ourselves.

Establishing Safety –

  • Now is the time to be ruthless in clearing off your ‘plate’: Respectfully withdraw from commitments you don’t absolutely have to participate in.  Notify your friends and family that you will not be as available as before.  Setting boundaries poorly may be why you’ve come to therapy so this is a tough one.  Make short term changes (like putting off involvement in something for a few weeks instead of saying “no” all together) which will buy you time to build the muscles you’ll need for more sustainable transformation.
  • Focus on the basics: sleep, nutrition and movement.  Again, the point of therapy may be to get better at self care so take baby steps for now.  Try to get to bed at a consistent time, decide what you need to add to your diet (not take away) to feel good and find movement you actually enjoy – even if it is just for 10 minutes.
  • Be honest with your therapist.  Now is the time to share your concerns so that you can establish a strong working alliance.  They are your guides on what will be a difficult journey at times.  It is important you establish trust in their expertise and skill.
  • Try out the coping skills you and your therapist discuss so that you can determine what works for you and what doesn’t.  You don’t want to wait until you are in the thick of the process to figure this out.  Everybody is different and the possibilities are endless, so there is no substitute for testing things out.

Deconstruction of the old story –

  • Spend time between sessions reflecting on what you have discussed.  Your therapy hour is just the beginning of making sense of your story and connecting the dots as to why you think and/or behave the way you do.
  • Review the material your therapist gives you (books, podcasts, videos, etc.).  This is part of the process for understanding how you got to where you are.

Grieving –

  • Lean in to the discomfort.  This stage takes courage.  This is the stage when clients most often resist the therapist.  Despite the strong alliance they have built and the trust that has been established, all of a sudden, “maybe my therapist isn’t so great after all.  Why are they torturing me with this work?”  Trust the process, it will be worth it!
  • Avoid working on your process after dinnertime each day.  The end of your day should be spent winding down, not opening up Pandora’s box of emotion.
  • Experiment until you find a rhythm of self work time that works for you.  Perhaps a one-and-done session each week when everyone knows not to disturb you or maybe 20 minutes each morning.  It doesn’t matter the format – what matters most is consistency.

Constructing the new story –

  • This stage is about literally rewiring the brain.  That means your efforts will feel awkward and counter-intuitive and that is OK.
  • Your sessions will involve either learning new skills that you will need to cultivate on your own or generating plans for handling situations differently than you have before.  It’s all about action at this point so remind yourself constantly that different results demand different strategies.
  • Practice, practice, practice.  Practice makes progress.  Commit to take one baby step forward each day.  Nothing changes by coming to therapy and talking about it.  It changes when you leave the session and do things differently.  Therapy helps you break this down into manageable baby steps and strategize the most effective changes.

An excellent auto mechanic can easily garner upwards of $100 per hour to fix our cars.  We would consider it foolish to pay for their expertise, then do nothing to maintain the vehicle or prevent further issues.  Our health is far more valuable than our cars so we hope that this post inspires you to invest in yourself and maximize that investment for the best return!

 

 

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Orlando, FL

info@phenixcounseling.com
(407) 476-6041

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