Deciding to undertake Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), or any form of talking therapy, is a big commitment, both personally and financially. You’re investing in yourself, so you’re going to want to get it right. Here are some tips and ideas to ensure you get the most out of CBT…
Find the Right Therapist
Choosing the right therapist for you is an important first step. Research shows that a positive rapport with your therapist correlates with a positive outcome for therapy. You need to feel safe and connected with your therapist and trust they are the right person to support and guide you on your therapy journey. Some people see their therapist as the person who is going to fix them, but it’s more of a collaborative relationship where you work together to achieve your therapy goals. Read How to choose a CBT Therapist for more advice.
Discuss Any Concerns
It’s important to bring up any concerns or worries with your therapist as early as possible. It’s completely normal to question whether therapy is right for you or wonder if it’ll actually work. These are common things therapists are used to working through with people.
Prepare for Your Session
Before your therapy session, it’s a good idea to think about what has happened for you that week. Is there anything specific you would like to discuss or work through? Arriving in good time can also make a huge difference to your experience, ensuring you feel calm, relaxed and in the right mindset for your session.
So much can happen in a one-hour therapy session, it can be difficult to fully process what you’ve discussed and what that means for you. Taking notes can be useful, helping you remember key learning points and anything you need to focus on over the coming week.
Take Time to Reflect
Ultimately, CBT encourages you to become your own therapist, providing you with the skills you need to make changes and move forward. Being able to ask yourself reflective questions at times of difficulty is an excellent way of untangling our emotions and re-engaging our logical mind which sometimes decides to take a back seat when difficulty strikes. Reflection, slowing down our thinking, and taking stock is a great exercise in taking back control when things start to spiral.
I encourage all my clients to spend some time reflecting after each session because it’s one of the best ways to ensure you get the most out of therapy. Ideally, this should take place within 24 hours of each session, so the information is fresh. I also recommend finding a quiet space where you feel relaxed. Here is a free therapy reflection sheet I’ve put together for my clients, but feel free to add your own questions and personalise it to suit your needs.
Journal Through It
Journaling is another useful self-help tool for consolidating the learning and growth that takes place during therapy. As well as developing and improving awareness of your mind, it can help you become more objective about your thoughts, acting as an additional guide and enhancing your therapeutic experience. Read What is a Therapy Journal and How Can It Help? for more information.
If you haven’t started therapy yet but think it could be for you, The CBT Journal is a great place to start. It teaches you the basics of CBT, helps you understand the power of journaling and provides a framework for you to start. Therapy can be transformative, but each session is just one hour a week whereas the practice of journaling is always available.