Luckily, being a client is relatively straightforward. You show up on time each week, you speak openly and honestly about your problems, and try to think about the feedback and interpretations I provide. The most important qualities for you to focus on are honesty, consistency, and patience. This may seem simple or daunting depending on your personality and point of view but most people are able to make it work and get a lot out of their work with me.
A counselor needs time to get to know you in order to develop a working relationship such that progress and change can occur. As you well know, it takes time to warm up to people and get to know them deeply enough to be helpful. Therapists that start "doing" therapy too soon can be seen as jumping to conclusions on limited information, leaving you feeling judged and misunderstood. Changing your life and your way of being in the world takes time because the foundation and framework for who you are has been solidifying since the day you were born. Altering thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that have been around for this long occurs slowly but noticeably.
One of the cornerstones of effective psychotherapy is the confidential relationship between client and therapist that encourages deep and sometimes painful honesty. Honesty is a quality that many people strive to embrace, however; revealing private thoughts and secrets can be embarassing and scary. In therapy, you are the guide and you have to make sure that you begin by talking about topics that you feel comfortable sharing. Being honest with ourselves is the first step to being honest with others.
It may seem obvious to point out that consistent attendance is crucial to effective therapy. It is your time and money that you are investing in your therapy and if you want to have the maximum effectiveness of your work, you have to come on-time every week. Just like when your doctor points out that if you miss a pill, it lowers the overall effectiveness of the treatment program, so too goes your therapy. Missed sessions lead to more time being used on current events and less time for therapy.
Another important facet to therapy is your ability to give feedback to your counselor. Feel free to bring your concerns to your counselor even if you want to talk about the effectiveness of the counseling. Most counselors should welcome your feedback and work with you in a collaborative way to improve your therapy. Remember, it is your time and it is your counseling.
So, in summary, go to therapy each week and try to be honest. Then patiently give feedback until you feel that you are getting what you want out of your therapy.
Learn more about my approach to couples counseling or contact me to setup a first appointment