Going to the psychologist can be a really eye-opening situation. In their consultation, we can discover more deeply who we are, learn more about ourselves and discover ways to be happier and better people.
Many people go to the therapist with the clear idea of feeling good, but after the first session, bewilderment, frustration, and even disappointment can arise because they have very high expectations about how our life is. short term.
The truth is that psychotherapy is a process of healing and improvement which, while effective, takes its time. This is not an automatic thing: we will need several sessions, and in these, our attitude and our willingness to change will be essential. Below we will find out how to facilitate therapeutic progress by going to the psychologist.
How to facilitate therapeutic progress when you go to the psychologist
Going to the psychologist is a beneficial, but long-term process. Its positive effects take a long time to manifest and, to be noticed, it is necessary to go to psychotherapy several times for months (even years) so that the small improvements that occur after each session accumulate and give a much greater effect. The best is to wait and change the way we feel, think and interact with our environment does not happen automatically and immediately.
Advances in psychotherapy are not something psychologists magically introduce into the minds of their patients. What happens is that thanks to a good therapeutic alliance, the psychologist tries to improve the patient’s life by recommending behavioral guidelines and, in turn, the patient takes an active role in his own improvement. If you go to the psychotherapist with a clear mindset that you want to improve and change, being collaborative, it will be a matter of time before any progress is made.
Psychotherapy has long been known to be a useful tool, with a great deal of scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness in treating a wide variety of psychological problems. Whether it is teaching the patient how to manage a symptom or helping him to overcome an entire disorder, psychotherapy is undoubtedly one of the strongest and most powerful therapeutic processes for providing people with well-being, even when they themselves believe that they will never be happy. .
However, the effectiveness of psychotherapy depends a lot on the patient. His will to improve and the attitude he shows both in the sessions and in the tasks recommended to him at home are factors that facilitate psychotherapeutic progress.. It’s the little attitudes and changes in the way you behave and see things that move a person toward psychotherapy.
Below we will see some keys that will show us how to facilitate progress and improvement when switching to psychotherapy.
1. Commit to the regularity of sessions
One of the most important aspects of facilitating change for the better as a patient is, without a doubt, attending the sessions. These sessions are thought out by the psychologist in a very thoughtful way. We try to choose the most appropriate time to do them, avoiding that they are too far apart in time as for the patient to forget what he did during the previous session but also avoiding that they are too close together, as this would not allow time for the improvements from the previous session to be appreciated.
As patients we must respect these times. Maybe one day we’ll go to the psychologist and ask him to change the date, but what we can’t do is constantly delay it. We have to be consistent. Let’s look at it this way: If you join a gym to get in shape, what’s the point of going once every two months? Of course, there will be no change. Now, exactly the same thing happens with psychotherapy.
2. Aim for progress
It often happens that when we try to see if we are making progress, it is difficult for us to value absolutely everything that has happened. Human beings do not have unlimited memories, and if we add to that the effect of the loss of negativity, it is more likely that we see the evil that has happened to us more easily than all the good that has happened to us, which can hinder our progress or even make us think about stopping therapy.
For this reason, it is ideal to keep track of the progress we have made after each session, making our “patient diary”. This is not something we have to teach the psychologist unless we want to. It is simply a file in which we put what we did in each session, what we talked about, what improvement the psychologist who sees told us …
It is also helpful to write down our thoughts, ideas and feelings related to the issue being addressed. Thus, by keeping them reported, we will remember better facing the next session and we will be able to comment on information useful to the psychologist so that you can assess which is the best treatment option or whether you can already talk about complete improvement.
3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Starting psychological therapy can be really disruptive, even if its goal is to improve our lives. It happens to a lot of people that as soon as they start they feel confused, tense and with a rebellious spirit.. This causes them to make very impulsive decisions, including bad habits such as overeating, stopping exercising, biting their nails …
We need to understand that psychotherapy does not make us less healthy, quite the contrary. Many people who go to the psychologist start to adopt good habits of life like doing more sports, eating healthier, quitting smoking … they feel motivated to live and to extend life.
However, the beginnings cost. Since mind and body are closely related, having poor lifestyle habits can interfere with psychotherapy. If we maintain a healthy lifestyle, sleep 8 hours a day, exercise 2-3 times a week and eat a healthy diet our way of seeing the world will be positive and constructive, which will undoubtedly benefit the therapeutic process.
4. Identify how we deal with discomfort
If we go to the psychologist, it is to improve ourselves as people and to feel good. He or she will give us directions to deal with our discomfort, which will be useful and effective. However, for its effect to be as effective as possible, we must limit the dysfunctional strategies that we apply on a daily basis, those which, without even knowing we are doing them, make our lives worse.
Let’s see how to deal with very intense discomfort. Many times the habits we take to correct this discomfort feed it or even become part of the problem. If we detect them and discuss them with the professional, he will offer us alternatives that can counteract them, thus accelerating and improving the therapeutic progress of going to the psychologist.
Binge eating is one example of dysfunctional ways to deal with stress. Many people, being nervous, ingest large amounts of food, especially junk food. These foods are very harmful not only to our body but also to our mood, which makes us more gloomy and sad.
5. Detect situations that prevent us from moving forward
Therapeutic improvement is not done only in consultation with the psychologist, but in any context that is important to the patient. The therapeutic process is linked to the real and everyday situations that we have to face every day, this is why it is essential to detect the contexts which prevent us from moving forward, which are obstacles to well-being and happiness. We need to look at the situations, places, and people that make us feel worse or hinder therapy.
We have a clear example of this with people who are in drug addiction therapy. It is very likely that their friends are using the exact same drugs that the patient is trying to leave behind, so continuing to see them may increase their desire to relapse by throwing all the therapy to the ground. As drastic as ever, the best decision that can be made to facilitate progress in this situation is to quit dating drug addicts.
6. Be honest with the therapist
It is true that one of the most common beliefs of psychologists is that we are able to read the mind. A confession: it’s a lie. Psychologists cannot tell what a person is thinking just by looking them in the eye. It’s one thing to interpret micro-gestures, capable of evoking emotions, and quite another to have all the complex thoughts, experiences and feelings hidden behind those eyes.
For this reason, if as patients we want to see therapeutic progress by going to the psychologist, we have to be honest with him. Let’s not confuse, we’re not saying that you have to say absolutely everything, including all kinds of intimacies. no, the idea of being honest is to talk about the problem that is bothering us, without lying and saying what we think the psychologist needs to know.
If we consider that there are things that the psychologist should know but that we are afraid to be told to other people, we should not worry. Psychologists have a code of ethics that prevents us from sharing secrets with third parties, as long as the information disclosed by the patient does not present a danger to him or to others. For example, having a patient tell us that he enjoys watching pornography is very different from telling us that he is constantly abusing minors.
And what things should not be done in order to progress?
There are several myths surrounding what patients should do just by going to a psychologist. Today, many people believe that carrying out certain actions will ensure therapeutic progress. Although they do not necessarily hinder it, it must be said that they are not necessary. There are many beliefs in popular culture about what to do that are harmful because they make psychotherapy look very different from what it really is. Let’s look at a few.
1. It is not necessary to explain everything absolutely
While it is true that psychologists ask many questions, and in order for the therapeutic process to take place, the patient must do their part and be honest, it is not necessary to talk about absolutely everything. It is difficult for everyone to open up to a person just to get to know them and it is normal for the patient to feel uncomfortable during the first sessions. You do not have to answer all of the questions asked at the start. The psychologist will work with the useful information the patient has provided to you.
2. No need to talk about childhood
It is a well-established belief in society that the first thing to do at the start of therapy is to talk about childhood.. This is really contraindicated, because for many people talking about their childhood is not a comfortable thing and starting psychotherapy with something as emotionally intense as childhood can mean that the patient does not show up. during the first session and never wants to come back.
For this reason, most psychologists prefer to talk about the present, the current uncomfortable situation for which the patient has come to consult. If he wants to talk about his childhood on his own, he can do so, provided this is related to the reason for the consultation and the psychologist knows about it. It is true that this can help the patient to understand himself, but it is not an essential condition to facilitate therapeutic progress.
3. The psychologist is not an absolute authority
A myth among many patients is that the psychologist must be heard everywhere. The psychologist does not cease to be a person and does not possess the absolute truth. Psychotherapy works as follows: the person comes to the clinic with a problem that they cannot solve on their own. The psychologist, as a professional, tries to help by showing him a new view of this problem, Based on the professional knowledge that the therapist has acquired through training in psychology.
However, just because psychotherapy is like this does not mean that the patient cannot question what the psychologist is telling him. The psychologist does not or cannot expect the patient to obey without saying a word, but recommends what to do. Neither can he decide to stop helping the patient to “disobey”. The psychologist is an expert in psychology, but the patient is an expert in his life. While it is advisable to follow the professional’s advice, failure to do so does not mean that the treatment process is ruined.
4. You have to do all the chores you order at home
Closely linked to the previous point, the patient is always the one who decides whether or not to take into account what the psychologist has told him. As we have said, it is better to follow the recommendations of the psychologist, since it is most likely that this will improve therapeutic progress. However, they shouldn’t be seen as yes or yes homework, like when we went to high school and were given homework.
Many patients ignore this and when they don’t do this “homework” they stop attending therapy because they fear the psychologist will get angry. with them for not having done homework. Psychologists suggest tasks, tasks that in principle will help the patient, but they cannot force them and will not get angry because they did not do them. These are optional tasks and nothing happens without them. The worst thing that can happen if you don’t do them is to not move forward, nothing more.
It should be noted that if a patient is not performing the tasks, the problem may not be that the patient is not cooperating, but rather that the assigned tasks are not performed according to the most appropriate approach. appropriate. Not doing the homework should motivate the psychologist to change the way he deals with the problem, choosing tasks that are simpler and more easily applicable to his client.
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