Licensed therapists go to school for many years to learn how to best support people in counseling, but clients don't always know what to expect or how to best use their therapists. I've included some helpful suggestions and questions to ask to maximize benefits of therapy.
Be open and honest about your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and desires
It's normal to feel anxious about first meeting a therapist, give yourself a few sessions to settle in and feel more comfortable
Look up your therapist's credentials- what education or training do they have? In Colorado, people can be a registered psychotherapist with minimal education or life experience, check out what kind of training or experience your therapist has working with folks like you
Practice skills and/or concepts between sessions and talk about how this was for you
Have some goals & ideas of where you would like to go, but be open to detouring
Focus on Process Goals (your own actions, behaviors, and feelings- things you can control that will get you closer to where you want to be)
Prioritize Therapy: the benefits are directly related to how much work you put into it
Be gentle with yourself (allow yourself to make mistakes/ask for help)
Minimize venting: try to focus on yourself and "I" statements
Bring up any concerns you may have related to differences (race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, spirituality, national origin, disability, age, socio-economic status, etc.)
If you think your therapist missed something or said something you do not like, ask about it!
Notice how you feel with your therapists, it's okay to feel challenged or uncomfortable- though you should also feel respected and supported
Re-assess the relationship every few months and check in with your therapist if things aren't working or you are thinking of ending
If you are angry or appreciative of your therapist, practice telling them!
Schedule at a time where you are not rushed (allow 10-15 minutes to yourself before & after sessions to write/integrate)
Bring a journal and write notes during session
Talk to supportive people about your therapy (have boundaries, but share with people who want to see you succeed & grow; avoid talking to people who minimize your therapy work or are enabling of old patterns you want to change)
Sometimes we get stuck alone in our head....
Let your therapist know what is going on inside!