By Nicholas Rudgear
GCU Office of Student Care
We’ve all been through huge amounts of transition recently. Transition, while difficult at times, also brings opportunities for growth and change.
Perhaps during this transition you’ve explored therapy to help you process what is happening and make changes going forward. If you’re considering seeing a professional counselor or other qualified mental health professional, here are some suggestions on how to make the most of your experience:
Relationship, relationship, relationship.
Psychological research consistently demonstrates the single most important factor in determining whether people achieve their goals in therapy is the quality of the relationship they have with their therapist.
Therapy should be a place where you feel understood, cared for and accepted, and you also need to have confidence in the counselor’s ability to help get you where you want to go.
If you are researching potential counselors, talk with them on the phone or schedule an initial consultation, paying special attention to how you feel about your connection (or lack thereof) with your counselor. If it’s not the right fit, that’s OK – you are worth finding a therapist who is the right fit. And you will have a much better experience because of it.
As best you can, have a clear goal or direction for your counseling.
What is it you hope to achieve or change through counseling? Ultimately, counseling is client driven. You will have a better experience when you are clear with yourself and your counselor about your goals.
Counseling is an active process, not a passive experience for the patient or the client.
True counseling is a collaboration between your counselor and you. Be willing to work hard and try new things. Remember, change takes change.
Prioritize your counseling and be consistent. Clients who make the most progress and have the best experiences are those who are invested in the process and are working toward their goals outside of their counseling session, not just during it.
Ask questions of your counselor and give feedback about your experience, even if it is scary.
Share with your counselor what you find helpful and not so helpful. Discuss what you enjoy about therapy and what doesn’t seem to connect with you.
What works well for some may not work well for others – the important thing is to find what works for you, and make sure your counselor understands that.
Remember to pay attention to your overall health while you focus on your mental health in counseling.
It’s hard to have improve our mental health if we neglect our physical health. Even though they seem basic and obvious, it’s crucial to make sure you are getting quality sleep, eating healthily, hydrating sufficiently and exercising appropriately. It makes a huge difference to your mental health.