Here are some suggestions for making your therapeutic experience the best possible:
1) Be totally honest. We've heard every story. The human condition contains basic elements that exist in all problems presented, and you're not going to shock us or be disapproved of.
2) Be open to new ways of thinking. Although you are free to examine, use, or discard any suggestions made, remember that behavior change is required for growth. "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten."
3) Understand the difference in professional therapy and "talking to a friend." A minimum of six years of college, two of them in human behavior, is required to legally practice as a counselor. We are also required to get several thousand hours of internship experience and supervision before being licensed.
4) Expect some resistance from family or friends. Change, even good change, can be threatening, and comes with a price. Your relationships will change because your world changes when YOU change. There will be people in your life who resist this, who want you to "stay in your box." It is indeed necessary to rock the boat for things to ultimately improve.
5) Do your homework. The true change of the therapy experience only takes place outside of the office, as you test the new ideas we give you and report the results back.
6) Journal, journal, and journal some more. The research is compelling: journaling continues the therapeutic progress outside of the session, releases tension, and moves you forward faster. Bullet-point journaling works well too.
7) Attend as regularly and as often as possible. It's also smart to come in occasionally after therapy has ended if you sense a downturn in mood or thinking.
Be patient with yourself. It took you a lifetime to develop these thinking patterns; it will take more than a session or two to change them!
9) Make notes after the session. Ideally, schedule enough free time after your therapy to go somewhere and process what came up.
10) Take responsibility for the session. Notice during the week what bothers you, excites you, what insights come up in your journaling that need to be explored further. Bring this information to session.