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Two Keys to a Rewarding Therapeutic Experience

Oftentimes, when first coming into therapy, many will wonder/question how it works or what it is they are supposed to do in order to feel a sense of relief, or maybe clarity, towards their specific issues or concerns. At times, some individuals or couples may expect or anticipate the therapist to provide insight and answers, when instead, they are greeted with deep questions, imploring you (the client) to dive deeper into yourself and uncover your next step, your decisions, your answer(s). 


So, how do we make that therapeutic magic happen? Some may argue it's a lot of different things but, I’d say it boils down to two keys:


  1. The rapport and trust you build within the professional relationship with your therapist

  2. Your openness


Let me explain…


Many of us therapists will agree and attest to the importance of something called the therapeutic relationship. Simply put, when you are sitting across from this human (your therapist), do you feel connected? Heard? Understood? Do you feel like over time, you can trust this human to give you the space you need to explore yourself authentically? And proceed to have open exploration of your experiences wIthout fear of judgment or shame? 


When we feel safe and comfortable, we are more willing to share our vulnerabilities and explore our thoughts and feelings more deeply creating a more fulfilling or impactful therapeutic experience. A therapist’s greatest priority is ensuring you receive the right support to make your therapeutic journey a rewarding one. Remember, finding a therapist can feel a lot like dating, you may need to “date” around before finding the right therapist for you; Don’t get discouraged and don’t give up! 


Things to consider when finding a therapist:

  1. What type(s) of therapy do they offer? There are many different modalities to therapy (Psychodynamic, EMDR, cognitive behavioral therapy, etc) researching potential therapists and their modalities is a great place to begin finding what may work best for you. Unsure what you are looking for? Here at ZTG, we have an admin team that knows all of our therapists very well, they can match you with a therapist based on some brief details you may provide with your first phone call.

  2. The therapist should be able to explain how they operate within the therapeutic space and how they can tailor their approach to best fit your unique needs and goals.

  3. What are their credentials and level of expertise in what you are needing support with? Inquire if they have treated others with your particular stressors/concerns (eating disorders, Bipolar, infidelity, etc)


The next key, openness.


It may sound like a buzzword, but it’s buzzing for a reason. What I mean by openness is your willingness to explore all parts of you and your inner world. It is the pleasure of a lifetime to learn who you truly are, that includes the parts of ourselves we turn away from or those emotions we try to hide from. As in the wise words of Carl Jung, “What you resist, persists”. To honor our full humanness we must embrace it for all of its complexities and emotions. One must embrace/acknowledge the worry, sadness or grief as much as we hold on to the joy, wonder and awe of our experience. To recognize that all of our emotions can coexist creates the opportunity to embrace a deeper meaning to our life experiences and its inevitable ups and downs. 


To be open means to be vulnerable, and for some, vulnerability is scary. Here are some ways you can begin to be open in therapy without feeling too vulnerable and exposed:


1. Take It Slow and Start Small:

Maybe you have something BIG you want to share, but sharing too soon seems scary. Start with smaller, more manageable issues/concerns as you build rapport with your therapist. When exploring the complexities of your human experience, remember it is not a race, but therapy is a marathon.


  1. Be Honest:

No matter what it is that you are feeling or experiencing, be honest with yourself first and then with your therapist. If you have had a tough week, or you did not do that meditation exercise your therapist recommended to you, no worries, be honest. A therapist is not a mind reader nor are they going to become disappointed in you. When you “sugar coat” your experiences or feelings it makes it difficult for the therapist to provide you the support you need.


  1. Use references:

If you are a person that does not enjoy talking about yourself or does not want to feel a “spotlight”, feel free to use references. It could be a movie, a celebrity, or a character from a book. For instance, you can tell your therapist that you always feel like Eyore from Winnie the Pooh to help your therapist understand what you are experiencing. 


With these two keys in hand, you are on your way to a rewarding therapeutic experience. Your therapist cannot wait to walk alongside you in your journey towards reaching your goals. 


Till next time,

Aimee Strange, LPCC 14132

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