How Can I Know If My Therapist Is Helping?
Therapy is a kind of interpersonal laboratory where you can achieve just about anything. Whether you’re hoping to overcome anxiety or depression, learn how to cope with grief, or simply improve your relationships with family and friends, talking it out with a professional therapist can give you the tools you need to shift your perspective, problem-solve more effectively, and establish better emotional wellness in your daily life.
Needless to say, a lot can go on in a therapy session. Besides giving you the space and permission you need to vent your thoughts and feelings without judgement, your therapist also helps you confront some of the deeper issues that may be fueling your emotional symptoms.
But even when talking to a therapist provides you with fresh insight and gives you a set of goals to work toward, you may not experience progress in the form of a simple straight line. From time to time, this may leave you wondering if going to therapy is helping you progress at all.
While it may take weeks or even months to see tangible results in therapy, there are ways to gauge your progress along the way. Here are a few ways to evaluate your personal therapy journey so you can work out whether the road you’re on is likely to get you where you want to go.
Does your treatment plan make sense?
One of the most basic ways to assess whether therapy is helpful is by asking if you and your therapist have a mutual understanding of what you’re hoping to accomplish through treatment.
When your therapist provides a detailed treatment plan that makes sense to you, it’s easier to understand the steps you need to take to overcome your problems, cope with your emotions, and reach your goals.
And feeling confident about your personal plan of action can also help increase your confidence in both your therapist’s competence and in the therapy process itself.
Do you feel guided toward your goals?
Your therapist may be the one who creates the overriding framework of your treatment plan, but that doesn’t mean they’re in the driver’s seat. On the contrary — it’s you who’s in control of both setting your goals and taking steps (both small and large) toward your improvement, recovery, or personal development.
A good therapist is simply there to guide you along the way, not decide what your goals should be or make guarantees about when or how you will reach them.
Is your therapist trustworthy, likeable, accepting, and compassionate?
At its core, therapy is built on a partnership between you and your therapist. As such, it’s essential that you work with someone whom you trust, respect, and even like.
Because the therapy process isn’t always easy or enjoyable when it requires you to face up to painful difficulties or life patterns, the person you’ve chosen to guide and accompany you on your journey should be someone who treats you as an equal and demonstrates acceptance and compassion, rather than discipline or judgement.
A good therapist can show concern or advise against certain behaviors or actions without making you feel judged or ashamed. On the contrary, you should leave every therapy session feeling accepted and validated.
Has therapy helped you learn useful skills?
If you can hear your therapist’s voice inside your head, gently countering those sneaky negative thoughts, emotions, or behaviors that tend to emerge when you’re alone, chances are your therapy is having a positive effect.
Therapy isn’t simply about receiving undivided attention, acceptance, and support. It’s about helping you learn the skills you need to handle stressful situations, manage difficult emotions, and practice acceptance, so you can understand yourself more fully and communicate better with the people in your life.
If therapy has given you the tools you need to effectively deal with situations that once would have sent you into a spiral of negativity, that’s an excellent sign of progress. If not, ask your therapist to give you feedback on where you started, where you are now, and what actions you can take to continue progressing toward your goals.
Here at Folsom Psychiatry Associates, our therapists strive to give you both the support and the skills you need to maintain upward positive growth as you progress towards your goals. To find out how we can help you, call our office in Folsom, California, or schedule an appointment online.