A good therapist can have an amazing impact on changing your life. However good therapy outcomes are not limited to only a therapist’s expertise. Several pieces of research were conducted to determine what decides the success of a therapy session. More than theoretical orientation, therapist’s skills, or different methods used one single factor always stood out the most.
It is the quality of the client-therapist relationship. This is the most powerful factor that determines the effectiveness of therapeutic outcomes. Often we put all of our emphasis on how seasoned our therapist is. In order to have the most effective relationship possible, we should also consider our role and play our part where needed.
Whether you’re about to start or are already in therapy, the following tips can help you a great deal in improving your relationship with your therapist.
How to have a good relationship with your therapist?
1. Understand the nature of your relationship
The first step towards building a strong relationship with your therapist is understanding the type of relationship. A therapist is a professional whose work depends solely on getting to know and understand you. They require a more open and intimate relationship than any other professional. If you are too reserved or guarded, this will create problems for them when it comes to doing their job effectively.
You have to be fully open and emotionally engaged to help your therapist in helping you. Try to lower your guard and expose how you truly feel to your therapist. Collaborating fully will not only help you get the most weight off of your chest but knowing the truth will also help your therapist do their best.
2. Get any inconveniences out of the way
Make sure that there are no hidden tensions between you and your therapist. Get any financial or other logistical concerns out of the way. Have as much settled as you can before your session begins. Is there any time limit you should be concerned about? Are there any hidden costs? Will my insurance policy cover these sessions? Etc. Also, ask them what are the procedures for contacting them outside of therapy hours? Do they also have online therapy sessions and can you contact them on the personal number and whether they allow it or not?
When you take care of such business before the therapy starts, you will have a more clear head when trying to explain your real problems. Do your best for setting up a secure base for your therapy. If you and your therapist have some ethical differences such as different religions or cultures, you should also clear this beforehand so there are no implications down the road. Also, take your therapist’s gender into account and clear out any confusion you might face down the road.
3. Communicate and be honest
Your therapist is not like other people. He will attentively listen to you and won’t judge you for how you think and feel. Often with other relations, we try to conceal our real feelings so others don’t think badly of us. But therapists are professionals who are not your normal relations. They are specialized in understanding people and if you tell them how you really feel, they will help you get to the roots of your issues.
If you’re holding back something that makes you depressed but it’s embarrassing, you’re not being honest with your therapist. Although this does not mean you should disclose each and every secret with them, let them know what really goes on in your head. Similarly, don’t be afraid to tell them if some of the techniques you’re using are not being useful. Speak up to them, so they can elaborate and practice what works best for you.
4. Do your assignments and homework
Therapy is not only about taking your feelings out. It’s also taking the necessary steps and working on the cures you’re given. In schools, we often skip or cheat on our homework, but we still graduate. We have completed school, but it won’t help us much if we never did what we needed to do in order to improve. Similarly, pay attention to what your therapist demands from you what assignments you need to complete. Show your therapist that you’re motivated and are willing to do any tasks outside of therapy hours.
Some therapeutic approaches such as CBT will require you to do literal homework. These may include filling worksheets or assigning numbers to your different feelings. Other than the tasks your therapist assigns, also try journaling after each therapy session and keep a track of how you think. Observe how much progress you’ve made and what you need to do in order to improve.
5. Respect your Therapist’s boundaries
Your therapist might feel like your best friend at times and you may start expecting too much from them. Understand that they have other clients too and only a limited amount of energy. Your therapist might establish some rules about contacting outside of therapy hours or sharing personal information. Understand that they have their own life and other people to attend to. Try not to contact them outside of therapy hours unless it’s an emergency. Don’t try to pry your therapist to share too much personal information during therapy sessions. Therapists often disclose personal experiences too but try not to be too obsessive. Have mutual respect for one another and this will strengthen your relationship.
Developing a trustworthy and honest bond with your therapist is essential for both you and your therapist. A good client-therapist relationship helps your therapist do their job properly and makes sure you get the best results out of your therapy sessions. Being honest and trusting each other is key. Understand your relationship, communicate as honestly as you can and do your part so you develop a good bond, and get the most out of your relationship.