Therapy is an investment. It takes time, energy, and money. So how do you get the biggest bang for your buck? Check out these three tips to get the most out of therapy.

1. Clarify your Goals

Before you even start googling therapists or asking friends for a referral, take some time to clarify your goals for therapy. Be as specific as possible! Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help with this:

  • What’s going well for me right now? What challenges am I experiencing?
  • What have I tried so far to help myself? What’s worked? What hasn’t?
  • What am I aiming for? In other words, what do I imagine my life will be like if I’m able to effectively manage my current symptoms or challenges?

After you reflect on these questions, write down your goal and bring it with you to your free consultation or first session. The clearer you are about why you are participating in therapy and what you hope to get out of it, the easier it will be for the therapist to develop an effective plan to support you.

2. Provide Feedback to your Therapist

Therapy involves some trial and error, especially during the early phases as the therapist and client are getting to know each other. l check in with clients when I sense something isn’t clicking in our work together. I also encourage clients to initiate a conversation about how therapy is going whenever they feel it’s needed. These direct conversations can feel awkward in the moment, but if you’re willing to tolerate some short-term discomfort they can ultimately help you get the most out of your therapy. Here are some examples of feedback you can give your therapist:

I found this homework/in-session exercise useful because _____. Or, I didn’t find this homework/in-session exercise useful because _____.

I would like to shift focus to _____ topic instead.

Can we do more of _____ or less of _____?

Next session, can we plan to work on _____?

Can we re-evaluate my goals and treatment plan?

I’d like to change the frequency that we meet to _____ because _____.

When you said _____I felt _____ because _____.

I don’t think we are a good match because _____. Can you provide a referral to a different therapist who (specializes in a different area, uses a different type of therapy, has a different identity or style of therapy, etc.)?

3. Prioritize your Therapy Homework

Much of the work of therapy occurs outside of your session as you apply what you learned to your daily life. If you want to see significant gains from therapy it’s essential that you’re open to experimenting with the tools your therapist introduces to you.

Some examples of therapy homework are: reading a relevant article, tracking your emotions, observing your thought patterns, trying a communication skill, or identifying your values.

In my experience, clients who regularly do their therapy homework make the biggest gains. If you don’t want to do therapy homework or don’t have the time, that’s ok! Just make sure you’re setting realistic expectations for what you’ll be able to accomplish in therapy or consider postponing therapy until you have the bandwidth for homework.

This blog post isn’t intended as professional counseling or clinical advice. If you’re in need of support, please consider speaking to a professional to be evaluated.