Want to get the most out of therapy? What you do between appointments matters just as much as what happens during the appointment.
Here are a few in-between appointments recommendations:
- Reflect on your previous therapy session. Was there something that stood out to you, upset you, or surprised you? Did anything inspire you or elicit a physiological response (tightness, tension, sweating, etc)? Was there something that surfaced that you hadn’t considered before? What steps (big or small) can you take that get you closer to your overall goal(s)?
- Journal to track your symptoms, thoughts, feelings, and experiences. There is only one rule when it comes to journaling: there are no rules. Write as much or as little as you want to. Write grammatically correct or use broken English. The point is to capture or record your observations and experiences. Be sure to track the date, the situation, how you responded to the situation – including your thoughts/beliefs, behavior, and feelings – and how you’d like to respond next time.
- Practice breathing exercises, self-care, and other healthy coping techniques. Making these things part of your everyday life helps to manage and reduce stress. What new skills have you been introduced to in therapy? Reframing thoughts? Progressive Muscle Relaxation? Setting boundaries? Integrate these skills into your daily life for optimal results.
- Any other homework. Your therapist may have assigned you a specific task or activity for homework. Instead of completing the homework the day before or the day of your next appointment, complete the homework within a day or two following the latest appointment, that way, you’ll have plenty of time to continue practicing, reflecting, and/or integrating it. Then, you and your therapist can better discuss the results or outcome of the homework.
- Think about what you want to discuss during your next appointment. Write down (in your journal or therapy log) any questions or topics that you want to discuss with your therapist. The goals you set with your therapist early on will ideally drive each appointment. It’s also welcome for you to mention topics or situations that may have arisen since your last appointment.
Remember, progress is not linear; therefore, your healing journey may have twists, roundabouts, and road obstructions. Let’s consider everything connected to your journey as a mile marker; the homework, the skills, even the challenges, and your response. Be mindful to acknowledge (and maybe even celebrate) every mile marker, because it gets you closer to your destination.