Therapy usually leaves you feeling great, right? You learn new skills and tactics, you get to focus on yourself, and you figure some things that you may not have been able to on your own. The only downside is you can’t keep your therapist in your pocket at all times…so you have to find ways to live what you learn when your session is over.
While it’s not necessarily possible to maintain that “therapy high” throughout the entire week, there are definitely some steps you can take to live what you learn. The end goal of therapy is to equip you with the skills necessary to live your life without weekly appointments. The only way to do this is to practice what you learn after each and every session. Therapy takes work, and not just in the 50-minutes of your scheduled session. When you’re paying for therapy, you’re investing in a lifetime, not just 50 minutes.
So how exactly do you live what you learn?
Putting pen to paper can be a very therapeutic experience. Make a habit of journaling after each appointment. Write down the premise of your session and what you feel like you learned. It’s important to do this immediately following a session so that everything you’re writing down is fresh in your mind. Your journal entry is great to revisit during the course of your week for tips during times when you’re struggling.
2. Ask for homework
Okay, this may sound weird, especially because we all grew up hating homework. But homework can actually be fun when the focus is on bettering ourselves. Ask for worksheets or book suggestions; homework is a very useful way to live what you learn after your session.
3. Take notes during the week
This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but when certain feelings or uncomfortable situations come up, jot them down in the notes section of your phone. You can then bring these situations up when you’re in your session, which will increase the productivity of your therapy experience.
4. Let yourself feel
During therapy, you’ll end up discussing some painful and uncomfortable things; you must do this in order to grow and move forward. However, because of this, some uncomfortable feelings will also arise – and not only in the duration of your session. You may find yourself processing what you discussed in minutes, hours or even days after your appointment. This is nothing to be ashamed of – we each need time to thoroughly comprehend our feelings. Negative emotions often have a negative stigma, and as hard as this may be, try not to let that affect you. Crying is okay. Anger is okay. All your feelings are valid, and shutting them down will only hinder your therapeutic process.
5. Practice positive coping
While positive coping skills are most commonly associated with addictions – drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, etc., everybody can use and learn from positive coping skills. These are some of the most productive ways to live what you learn in therapy. When you’re feeling stressed, depressed, and anxious, or like you want to engage in negative behaviors, challenge yourself to use a positive coping skill instead. Make a list of coping skills that you always have on hand and can whip out at any time.
The hard work that you put into therapy is well worth the reward, you just have to live what you learn every day.
If scheduling a therapy appointment is something you are interested in pursuing, contact Ellen Rohr, M.Ed., LPC Intern, at the RCC Austintoday. Her collaborative approach to counseling will help you incorporate new skills, reset your perspective, and make new choices to live a happier and empowered life. Call her at 512-270-4883, ext. 103, or request an appointment on our Scheduling Page.