How to Get the Most Out of Therapy

A therapy session is only one half of 1% of your life in a week but, it has the potential to transform your marriage, stop your addictive behaviors, heal trauma and help you make meaning of your life.  Therapy can be an incredible investment if you are a wise investor.  To help you get the most out of your investment I've created this article for you to check out.    

Oak tree seed - Like therapy it starts small but the growth can be huge.

Oak tree seed - Like therapy it starts small but the growth can be huge.

The First Visit.  If you can come early.  Allow yourself to get there 20-30 minutes ahead of time so that you can find the place, get settled, fill out the necessary paperwork and reflect on what you want to get out of the first session.  If you do this the session will be spent focused more on you rather than the business of filling out paperwork.

Expectations and Communication.  If you forget all other parts of this article I hope you remember this point: therapy is about you getting what you want and need.  Different people prefer different styles of therapy.  Some want a more direct approach.  Other's want to go slow and spend more time verbally processing.  A therapist will only know what you want and need if you tell them.  As a therapist I will have hunches but it is best if the client shares with me their expectations.  Most sessions I will make space to check in at the end of sessions.  If your therapist doesn't do that I would recommend you can ask for that to happen.  With that said if something didn't sit right with you let your therapist know as soon as you are aware.  Being able to have a voice in the therapy process is critical to you meeting your goals.  In addition, learning to have a voice in therapy is a great way to practice being assertive.  And, that can have a positive impact in other of parts of your life.   

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Reflect.  Therapy is all about leveraging the change that can happen in session to the rest of your life.  Part of how you make the most out of that change is by preparing for it and debriefing it.  I'd recommend that you journal the night before about what's really on your mind.  Ask yourself "what's bothering me most?  Where am I failing to be the person I want to be?  What's getting in the way?  What tools do I need to be successful?"  After session I would encourage you to take 20-30 minutes to figure out how to implement the changes you discussed into the rest of your life.  Sometimes a lot is brought up in session and you'll find that the thread of your process would benefit from a bit more tugging.  

Money.  Some people pay for their therapy and others may have someone else pay for their therapy.  I recommend that even if someone else is paying for your therapy that you pay some portion of it.  A wise teacher once said "where your treasure is, your heart will be also."  In other words, we care about things we financially invest in.  Whether it is our smartphone, shoes or car we often take better care of the things we pay for.  We do that because we own them.  Investing some money in your therapy will help you own it more than if you didn't.  

Paper and Pen

Homework.  Yup, I said it.  Homework is often part of therapy.  In my practice It's not forced or mandated but it is offered as a way to help accelerate your growth.  It's up to you how much or little of it you would like to do.  It is also up to you to determine your pace.  Again, it is important for you to share what your preferences are with your therapist when it comes to homework.  It's also important to share what your learning style is.  Do you like drawings, visuals or visuals?  Do you learn by doing and experiential exercises?  Your learning style is an important consideration when determining your working relationship with your therapist.    

Experiment.  My goal is to make my office the safest place on the planet for you.  And, that's likely what your therapist's goal is too.  This safety often allows clients to experiment with different ways of being, communicating, feeling, etc.  In addition, the growth process can be augmented by trying out experiential exercises or trying some art projects that you normally wouldn't try.  Therapy is the place to try things out and see what comes up.  

Therapy is Small but Big.  Acorns are small but have the potential become really big.  A one-inch acorn can become as tall as 144 ft.  That's a an incredible increase from its original size.  In many ways a therapy session is relatively small when compared to the rest of your life.  But, it can be BIG in its impact.  And, it can cause growth that can impact generations to come.  For example, take a marriage that becomes transformed.  The impact that will have on both partners health, wealth, children (if they have them, not to mention their children's children and so on) is amazing to consider.  Or, consider someone whose relationships are delayed or sabotaged from a sex addiction.  The joy of being in a healthy, satisfying relationship over none or even a dysfunctional relationship is impossible to quantify.  Isn't it worth considering how to make the most out of therapy then?  I hope therapy is an acorn to oak-tree experience for you!  And, I hope this article makes that all the more likely.  

Full grown Oak Tree - Therapy can make big changes happen in your life!

Full grown Oak Tree - Therapy can make big changes happen in your life!

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Alex Lerza

My goal as a therapist, speaker and writer is to help people experience the gift of sexual and relational wholeness. Currently I work at Christian Counseling Center in San Jose as a Marriage Family Therapist, Intern. Though I come from a place of faith I have treated clients from all creeds and orientations. I completed my Master's degree from Santa Clara University in 2012. Because I felt called to the area of sexual wholeness I became an Associate Sex Addiction Therapist in 2013. However, I quickly learned that trauma is the cause for a significant amount of sexual and relational brokenness so I also became certified in two trauma-reduction therapies--Affect Management Skills Training and Affect Centered Therapy (similar to EMDR). PSYCHOTHERAPIST. Trauma and Sexual Addiction. One of my passions is to help people break free from sexual addiction and heal from trauma. With hundreds of hours of training in trauma and sexual addiction, I provide clients a clear path out of addiction so that they may enjoy healthier relationships and lead more focused lives. Couples. I love helping couples discover the gift of a healthy marriage. I excel at teaching couples how to communicate, how to heal from betrayal and how to deepen their level of passion and intimacy. Teens. Being a teen is tough. I enjoy helping teens who struggle to connect with peers, have questions about identity or want to kick a pornography addiction. I also run a 10 week program for teen guys looking for a band of brothers and accountability with sexual compulsivity. Individuals. I believe that everyone has something to offer the world that no one else can. I hate to see depression or anxiety limit a person's ability to make their special offering come alive. I offer clients the compassion, tools and strategies they need to make their mark and fulfill their personal vision.