So you found a therapist, and you have your next appointment scheduled. Now what? When working with a therapist, it helps to have an idea what your goals are for treatment. The therapist is there to help you on your journey, but they shouldn’t be driving the car. There is no magic in therapy and it takes work. If the therapist wants to drive, they might take you on an adventure that’s not helpful to you. If you have considered what your goals are, they can help you better focus your time, and feel better faster.
As you prepare to start the hard work of therapy, talk with your family or the people around you about their concerns for you. The hope is that they are supportive, and not part of the problem, and will give you good feedback to get started. Your friend might tell you that you seem sad all the time. Your spouse might say that you tend to sleep a lot, or have a very short temper. This is all good feedback and can help you develop goals that you would like to address in therapy. Think about what you feel you need help with. Are you sad? Are you overwhelmed? Are you sleeping? What would you like to be different?
As you think about what you would like to change, write things down. Keep a notebook that has thoughts in it that will help the therapist develop a supportive plan with you to assist with all your concerns. Whether you have depression or anxiety issues, or anything else, there are generally parts of your life that you want to be different. Are you looking for a long term relationship, and need to work on skills? Are you trying to repair relationships by improving your communication skills or your confidence in yourself? Do you want to do better at work, or as a parent, or as a caregiver? Think about what you would like to happen, and the therapist can assist you in meeting your goals.
At times, therapists will push their own agenda and tell you what you need to do to get better. That is not uncommon, and at times you may need direction. However, this is your life and if something isn’t working, the therapist needs to know that. I have met some close minded therapists, that think that they have the answers and can “fix” people, but I don’t feel that way. If we had the power to fix others, my husband would be a happy guy. You will know if something is working for you. If it’s not, speak up!
As you move through the process, you will find change can be slow. Don’t give up on the process. Making changes in your life will be hard, but it will be worth it, if it gets you closer to being happy. I have watched people who were struggling, work hard and make changes in their lives that they didn’t think was possible. They were able to overcome failed marriages and relationships, medical issues and chronic medical conditions and still live a full life. It’s possible with the right support and a good therapist, you can improve your life.
Set your goals, and get started on a better tomorrow. You gathered the courage to find a therapist, now put that courage to work, and make things different. And don’t give up when it gets hard, and it will. Stay focused, work hard, and get the reward. After all, being happy is not easy. It takes work but you can do it.