Deciding to attend therapy for panic disorder involves a genuine commitment of your time and energy. What you get out of therapy is largely determined by what you are willing and able to put into it. Listed here are some tips for getting the most out of therapy:
Choosing a therapist who’s right for you is based on a number of factors, including your personal preferences and the therapist’s qualifications. When you first meet with a therapist, ask yourself if you feel comfortable opening up to this person. You will be hiring your therapist to help you work through issues and try out new behaviors. It is important that you feel safe to explore your emotions and confident in your therapist’s abilities.
It is your right to find a therapist that you feel is a good fit for you. However, don’t let choosing a therapist hinder your progress. Frequently changing therapists is a way to avoid working on your core issues. Understand that your therapist is not there to give you advice, but to offer you with a secure environment to express your feelings, develop new behaviors, and learn more functional ways of thinking.
Communicate with Your Therapist
Once you have found a therapist you are comfortable with, work towards remaining open and honest with that person. It can feel embarrassing and intimidating to talk to a therapist about your personal experiences, thoughts, and goals. However, communication is a cornerstone to developing a good working relationship with your therapist and getting the most out of therapy.
The relationship you have with your therapist, known as the therapeutic alliance, can be the most important factor in maximizing treatment outcomes. Remember that your therapist is there to support you through processing your thoughts and feelings and reaching your treatment goals. In order to feel heard and move forward in therapy, actively communicate your needs, ideas, and goals with your therapist.
Be Proactive Between Sessions
Simply attending therapy will not be enough to reach your treatment goals. To get the most out of therapy, you must be willing to do the work between sessions. Therapy sessions are typically only about 50 minutes to an hour long. Much of the progress you attain will be achieved through what you decide to do between sessions.
Your therapist may recommend homework assignments to be completed by and reviewed at your next session. Make sure you put careful thought, time, and effort into completing these assignments. Additionally, you should take some time after each session to consider what was discussed. Think about ways to build on the insights you uncovered in session. You may find it helpful to journal about the experience or simply write down other ideas and goals that came up during this reflection. You may also want to keep a record of thoughts and feelings that came up during your week, which you can then bring to your next session to talk about with your therapist.
Part of the good communication you have with your therapist involves your ability to inquire about your condition and treatment. Ask about treatment options and request further resources, such as take-home handouts and pamphlets on panic disorder, book recommendations, and support groups. You are empowered as a client when you remain informed about your condition.
Track Your Progress and Don’t Give Up
Make an effort to regularly attend your scheduled therapy sessions. There may be times when other things come up, but try to make it a habit to devote time for therapy. Therapy can be difficult and frustrating at times. For example, your therapist may offer a different perspective that challenges you current ways of thinking and behaving. At other times you may feel discouraged because your progress may appear slow. However, remaining dedicated to and actively engaged in therapy will help you move forward towards your treatment goals.
Once you have been attending your sessions on a regular basis and keeping up with your work outside of therapy, begin to discuss progress with you therapist. Also, get feedback from those closest to you to determine how much you have improved. You and your therapist can review your treatment plan and determine an appropriate time to end therapy.
Sherman, C. “How to Go to Therapy: Making the Most of Professional Help” 2001 New York: Random House.