Your time with your therapist is probably not as long as you’d like because it is such an important time. When talking with your mental health professional, you learn insight into your condition, your personality, and solutions on how to improve your life. Sometimes it’s hard to fit everything in during your visits.
Learn some easy ways to make the most out of your regular therapy sessions to ensure that the important issues facing you are given the amount of time they need.
Your First Visit
First visits with therapists often involve gathering information about you, your condition, and the impact on your life. The more information you have readily available for your therapist, the better he or she they can help you. Some information to have includes:
- Your current symptoms
- Why you’re seeking therapy
- Your medical history
Prepare for Each Visit
To maximize your time for your visit, you should be prepared beforehand. This includes making sure you have adequate time to get to your appointment so you’re not rushed when you’re supposed to be relaxed. However, you shouldn’t come relaxed by alcohol or drugs, unless you have been prescribed either. Therapy is time to work on your problems, not self-medicate your way through them.
Journaling & Keeping Track
Keeping a journal could help jog your memory and identify patterns when it comes time for your therapy. This could include your overall moods between sessions, problems you might have had, or any personal insights you might have gained through your own experience. Reviewing over your journal entries before therapy, or bringing it with you, can help you work on what’s most important.
Show Up to Share
The reason you go to therapy is to help you solve problems, but you can’t do that unless you come ready to share your thoughts and emotions. This may include sharing some painful memories, or parts of your personality that you aren’t proud of, but talking about through issues can help you change or accept them.
Openness isn’t the same as sharing. Openness includes being open to answer your therapist’s questions, as well as being open with yourself and open to new ideas. This can be about the way you act, the way you feel, and how you interact with others. Being open allows you to share what you have to say and listening to what others do as well.
Take Notes During Your Visit
Just as you should take notes when you’re outside of therapy, you should also jot down any important observations or conclusions that you come to during therapy. This is will enable you to review what you worked on, and remind yourself of the progress being made.
Ask Your Own Questions
Your therapist will surely ask you many questions regarding events in your life—past and current—to get an accurate picture of your circumstances. In order to build trust, communication should be a two-way street, so it’s imperative that you have your questions answered. However, your therapist may not answer personal questions to keep a professional boundary.
Take Time After a Session
Depending on the topic discussed, you may have some intense emotions running through you after a therapy session. Try to plan a little down time after each session to give yourself a moment to absorb the session. Spending your time journaling your reactions, or even sitting down to be alone with your thoughts, can be very therapeutic.
Revisit the Session
Before your next session, go over your notes, journal, or however you’ve decided to take it all down. Revisit what you talked about, and start to think about what you’d like to talk about during your next session. The insight gained from the sessions shouldn’t be limited to the therapist’s office, so make sure you think about it during the week.
Get More Information
Therapy is an important part of complete bipolar treatment. It helps you understand yourself and your condition better. Still, it’s important to take the lessons and insight beyond your therapy sessions and apply them to your life.