How to Make the Most Out of Working With a Therapist


Working with a therapist is a great way to have an unbiased person talk you through things going on in your life and be a sounding board for advice. Especially in these times of uncertainty, putting your mental health at the forefront and taking care of yourself is essential.

If you’re already working with a therapist or getting ready for your first appointment, there are a few things to know in order to make the most out of your therapy appointments. There are different styles of therapy and a technique that works well for one person may not be right for you.

Therapy is all about making yourself better so you can live a happier and healthier life. In order to make your therapy sessions productive and fruitful, we’ve put together a guide of tips and recommendations.

If you’re looking for ways on how to make the most out of your therapy appointments, read on for more information.

Evaluate What You Want to Achieve

If you’ve made the decision to seek therapy, you likely have some reasons behind it. You will need to consider what outcome it is you’re looking for from therapy. If you ever feel stuck in your sessions, ask yourself what it is that you want and how you currently are feeling. Taking those things into consideration will help you get back to your why.

Don’t worry about saying or asking something too personal. You’re there to make the most of your session and you shouldn’t worry about censoring yourself. Some sessions you may spend just running through the details of your daily life or not having anything to say. Think about why that is – is there something you’re avoiding talking about? Dig deeper when you can.

If you think of things you want to talk about with your therapist when you’re not in therapy, keep a list or journal to note things down in. Come to your next appointment prepared with items to discuss. Even if they’re not as important to you at that appointment as they were when you wrote it down, still talk it over.

Choose a Therapist That Works for You

Finding a therapist that you feel comfortable and safe with is a big part of the process. Many therapist groups not only offer individual therapy, but family, child, and couples counseling as well. No matter what your need is, there is someone out there that can help you.

Ask friends for recommendations for therapists. Look around at what therapists are in your area and research them online. Virtual therapy is something that has grown in popularity over the past year, so explore online therapy options. Many of the programs available have texting and video chat options quick access to your therapist.

Once you have found the perfect therapist, professionals recommend staying with them instead of switching therapists. There are of course circumstances where a therapist doesn’t work out for you, but it is good to build up a consistent relationship in order to see your progress and build trust.

If you feel like things aren’t working out with your current therapist, there is nothing wrong with parting ways. Ultimately it’s about what you need, but be sure to end the relationship in a professional way. After your therapy sessions, you should feel as if some of your burden has been lifted.

You might feel a bit upset after a therapy session that probed into some serious issues. If you’re feeling distressed after nearly every single one of your appointments, it’s time to evaluate if your therapist is right for you.

Be Open and Honest

Sometimes you may feel embarrassed about some of the topics your therapist brings up or even items you want to discuss. Be completely open and honest with not only our therapist but with yourself. Your therapist isn’t there to judge you – their job is to help you. Have compassion with yourself as you go on this journey.

Not holding back on what you say or feel will help you get the most out of your therapy sessions. If there’s something you’re avoiding talking about, bring those into the conversation.

Your therapist might want to try different exercises or techniques that you may feel uncomfortable with, but trust them and their process. Talk through it with them if you’re feeling uncomfortable. Discuss what about it causes you discomfort. You may find out different things during that process.

Continue Therapy Outside of Your Sessions

Your therapist might give you homework and you shouldn’t ignore that. Think about it as if you were in school. Would you want to get an F on your therapy homework if it was graded? Homework exercises for therapy range from journaling, breathing exercises or sketching things out.

Don’t skip your therapy homework assignments. While they may seem silly or inconsequential to the entire process, taking the small baby steps your therapist outlines for you can help you grow. Doing the tasks they assign will help you gauge your progress.

If going outside and walking around for 10 minutes seems like a huge task at the beginning of therapy, look at how you feel after doing it for a month. It will give you a sense of pride to look at how you progress with the things they assign for you to do. It gives you more control in your journey through therapy.

Forge a Relationship With Your Therapist

Working with a therapist, whether you’re new to the experience or have been doing it for years, can be extremely beneficial to you and those around you. Finding a trustworthy therapist can be difficult, but we’re here to help.

Willow Oak Therapy Center a psychotherapy center in Rockville, MD. Our mission is to provide affordable and accessible therapy services that are tailored to your individual needs.

We can provide assistance to children, teens, and adults. Willow Oak accepts most major insurance plans, as well as Maryland Medicaid and Medicare, and offer sliding scale fees. Contact us today to get started.

7 Benefits of Couples Therapy That Will Strengthen Your Relationship

7 Benefits of Couples Therapy That Will Strengthen Your Relationship

Are you having relationship troubles?

Fighting and arguments are inevitable when you’re in a relationship. Psychologists state that fighting with your partner is normal. Many will consider it a sign of a healthy relationship.

However, there is a difference between healthy and unhealthy fighting. Like 69% of married couples, many fights often go unresolved. This creates a chasm in the relationship that often leads to splitting up.

Couples fight for a variety of reasons, from money to personal issues. If you’re having relationship problems, consider the benefits of couples therapy. In this article, we cover some advantages of couples therapy when fights don’t seem to resolve.

1. Commitment to Growth

Going to couples therapy may be a big decision between you and your partner. Many couples avoid couples therapy because of the stigma that revolves around it. Many people think that marriage therapy is a sign of a failed relationship.

In fact, going to couples therapy is a sign that you’re willing to commit to growth. Investing in your relationship allows you to pave the path for a happy and healthy marriage. Asking for help from a professional marriage counselor can be a huge step in a relationship.

Going to couples therapy holds you accountable for your actions in the relationship. For couples therapy to work, you need to put the things you’ve learned into practice. This requires discipline and commitment.

2. Reveals Patterns and Issues

One of the benefits of couples therapy is that it not only helps you solve problems. A marriage counselor can help you identify what the root issues are. In some cases, couples therapy allows you to reveal issues before they set in.

Your therapist does not only focus on what you argue about. A professional couples therapist will also take note of how you interact. How you argue with your partner is essential to your relationship.

Going to couples therapy can be an eye-opening experience. It can reveal how you and your partner handle things as a couple.

3. Improve Communication

Improving your communication skills is one of the best reasons to go to couples therapy. Improving communication with your partner is key to a healthier relationship. Good communication skills do not only rely on your articulation of thoughts.

Being a good and active listener and empathy are crucial to good communication. You must also learn to avoid personal attacks even when in conflict with your partner. Meaningful conversations can help you deepen your connection and intimacy.

Communication is one of the main causes of conflict between couples. Often, when couples fight, they don’t engage with each other at all. This can lead to distancing and isolation that makes you drift apart.

Couples therapy allows you to fix the gap between you and your partner. It does not only make you a better communicator. It can also help you feel listened to and heard by your partner.

4. Navigating Parenthood

Relationship problems can be harder when there’s a child involved. Family dynamics can change in a family, depending on the parents. One of the benefits of couples therapy is that you learn to become better parents together.

Many parents tend to develop their own parenting strategies. The differences in dealing with their child can sometimes lead to fights. Couples therapy gives you a platform to share your parenting styles in-depth.

Couples therapy allows you to work together to create a stable home life for your child. You may also learn how to combine your parenting styles in a positive manner. Couples therapy will benefit not only you and your partner but also your child.

5. Resolve Roadblocks

Many people will advise you never to leave a fight unresolved. If you don’t know how to tackle problems with your partner, it could lead to more concerns.

The gap between a couple can widen if they don’t know how to resolve their issues. As people age and mature, some never learn to address their problems. Couples therapy gives you a platform to confront these topics,

Whether it’s about major decisions or minor chores, small fights can lead to big concerns. These problems will only grow as you continue to ignore them. Couples counseling allows you to work through these before your relationship becomes irreparable.

This can happen when couples are afraid to confront each other. Couples therapy allows you to become more comfortable with conflict. Accepting conflict is one of the first steps to handle it better.

6. Promote Personal Growth

Through couples therapy, you can also achieve personal growth. To work with a couple, a therapist must first understand both sides of the equation. This means that you may spend a lot of time getting to know yourself with your therapist.

Couples therapy can make you more self-aware of how you handle your relationships. Your therapist will help you understand how you relate to other people. Couples therapy can help you come to terms with your own issues and take the right steps to solve them.

7. Setting Boundaries Outside Your Relationships

People outside of your marriage can be a great source of nourishment or stress. This can include relationships with your in-laws, parents, or even extended family. Many couples encounter issues like this early in their relationship.

Marriage counseling helps couples set boundaries with others. Experts state that we pick up our love language from our parents. You may also recognize relationship patterns from the examples you’ve seen as a child.

Couples therapy helps you work through years of hurt or trauma. It can help you get rid of bad habits. It can give you confidence and help you set healthy boundaries with people outside of your marriage.

Enjoy the Benefits of Couples Therapy

Now you know some of the best benefits of couples therapy. Whether you’re newly-married or going on your tenth year, couples therapy can benefit you and your partner.

Thanks for reading our guide! Looking for a marriage counselor to help you strengthen your relationship? Contact us today and discover our other counseling options!

How to Prepare for Couples Therapy

How to Prepare for Couples Therapy

All couples experience conflict, which is a normal and healthy part of intimate relationships.  However, if you’ve found that you’re fighting frequently with your partner, your conflicts have become entrenched, or that you and your partner are becoming more distant, you might want to consider relationship counseling.

Couples counseling can assist you to understand your partner’s emotional needs, develop more effective communication skills, and become more aware of how you may be emotionally impacting your partner.  While couples counseling can be helpful for many, in some situations, a therapist may recommend that partners seek individual counseling first.  For example, if there is abuse and violence in the relationship, the counselor is likely to recommend that the partner(s) work individually on anger management before bringing them together as a couple.

Below are some suggestions to assist you to prepare for couples counseling sessions.

1. Sort Through Your Issues

When you attend your first session, the therapist will ask what issues brought you there.  It’s helpful to be able to talk with your partner beforehand about what each person is concerned about.    You may each want to jot down some notes to take with you to the session.  This will help you to stay focused on the core issues that brought you to therapy.

If you and your partner have difficulty talking about the issues beforehand, you can note that as well.  Let the therapist know that having emotionally difficult conversations is hard for your and your partner.

2. Know Your Goals

What are you hoping to achieve after your therapy session? Be specific.  It’s not enough to say that you’re hoping to make the relationship work. Yes, but in what way?  Do you want to be able to make meaningful conversations with your partner going forward?   Do you want to spend more time with your partner?   Do you want to learn how to more effectively handle disagreements with your partner?

If possible, discuss this with your partner. Discuss what you want out of the relationship counseling and try to come up with shared goals.  Clarifying the reason you’re seeking therapy will help to motivate you, and help you find a therapist who is the right match.

3. Ensure You’re Both Ready

The therapy will only work if both of you are willing to give 100% to it. Couples therapy is about understnad your problems as a couple, making compromises, healing, and setting goals. Both you and your partner must be ready to start the process.

Often, the partner who initially suggested couples counseling is more motivated and excited about the prospect of therapy, while the other partner may be more reluctant.  The therapist will explore the motivations of both partners in sessions, and attempt to help ease any concerns or fears about the process.  However, even a skilled therapist will have difficulty helping a couple if one partner continues to be reluctant to engage in the process.

4. Clear Your Schedule

On the day of the appointment, make sure both you and your partner won’t have anything else to do right before or after the appointment. This makes sure you have enough time and space for yourself to prepare.

Counseling is an emotional process for both parties involved, so take time after the appointment to rest and reflect.  What issues came up during the session?  What was your emotional reaction?  How did you express it?  Did you listen with intent to understand your partner’s point of view?  Are you willing to compromise with your partner?

5. Get Ready to Get Personal

Your therapist will not only look at your present behavior and relationship. They will also have to know your roots to help you overcome your current issues. In other words, you’ll have to share your personal history.

Your childhood and your past relationships all affect your current relationship. Knowing this history can help the counselor can better understand how you interact with others.

Were your parents divorced? How was their relationship? Did you receive abuse in your past relationships?  All these can affect your emotional bonds, and can impact your behavior in the relationship, as well.

These can dictate your choice in a partner, how well your relationship goes, and even how it ends.  The therapist will want to explore and understand these issues and how they have impacted your relationship.

6. Know That You Don’t Have to Be Selfless

The aim of couples counseling is to make the relationship satisfying and healthy for both partners.  You may be challenged to re-examine some of your behaviors and assumptions.  You may be asked to try new ways of relating to your partner that may feel uncomfortable at first.  However, your partner will be going through the same process, and trying to understand how some of his/her behaviors are impacting you.

Your therapist will assist you to uncover the issues impacting your relationship negatively, and will work with each partner to develop relationship is satisfying for both partners.

Know It’s Okay to Be Nervous About Relationship Counseling

Feeling nervous? Don’t worry, it’s normal; make sure to let your partner know, too. Relationship counseling is a new experience, so it’s understandable to be anxious.

If you have more questions, we’ll be happy to quell your nervousness. Contact us today and allow us to help you.

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