Hopefully, if you have mustered the courage to seek counseling, you will have a productive and positive experience. There are several elements of a successful treatment that will increase the probability of that happening. A good fit, commitment, and avoidance of self-sabotage are the three most important keys to your success.
A good fit – If you’ve decided that you need help, there is absolutely nothing wrong with interviewing two or three therapists in order to be sure that you feel comfortable with your choice. You want to feel safe and that the person you will be confiding in is trustworthy. Trust means that they will maintain a professionalism that includes boundaries that respect the therapeutic relationship is not for the purpose of friendship or romance. It also means that the therapist
respects your time. You will also need to feel that he/she has the knowledge and skills to help you. In other words, you want to be sure they have the experience and training in the area for which you are seeking help. For example, if you are wondering whether you have a substance-abuse problem, you will want to see someone who has credentials in addictions.
Counseling should be approached with the desire to learn and grow. And when acquiring any new skill, there needs to be commitment and practice. Commitment means that you keep your appointments, show up on time, keep your fees current, and follow the recommended suggestions. Like anything you want to master, the more you practice what you are learning, the faster the results.
Sabotage can be covert or overt. Resistance is natural, but you don’t want to let it thwart your efforts. Resistance shows up in “forgetting” about appointments or payment and not following through with other commitments. Resistance can also occur when you are processing your therapy with friends and family. This not only dilutes the process, but also opens up your sacred work to interpretation by someone who may be well-intentioned but not equipped to give psychological advice. This often leads to confusion and sometimes even undermines the treatment.
Keep in mind that many of these possible missteps are part of the psychotherapeutic process and a skilled therapist will know how to help you to analyze and work through the blocks.
At its best, therapy is challenging, but also enlightening and exhilarating. Moving from the role of feeling powerless into the place of feeling a sense of mastery over one’s life is one of the most gratifying experiences one can achieve. Awareness of these outlined areas will help to maximize your success and to achieve your goals in the smoothest, expeditious and gratifying manner.