As we’ve previously looked at, counselling services can provide a whole range of benefits, whether you’re embarking on the counselling journey as an individual or a couple. But a counselling session may not always be enough as a stand alone activity and there are many ways in which you can enhance their effectiveness in between appointments. Committing to the following behaviours will ensure you work through challenges quickly and get the most out of your therapy.
Enhance your counselling session with journaling
Journaling (or even just documenting how you feel) and what themes are showing up in your life is a really powerful way of understanding yourself, your psyche and your lived experiences.
Not only that but studies show that journaling can help your physical health by reducing stress and boosting your immune system.
University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, acting as a stress management tool, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health.
It also provides the added bonus of being able to document your progress and changes, whilst clarifying your thoughts and emotions.
Enhance your counselling session by being patient
Truly being gentle and patient with yourself will have enormous positive effects. Despite everything you may feel, the truth is that you don’t need it all worked out or resolved yesterday.
Putting pressure on yourself can often have the opposite effect that you desire, so as much as you can (and it may take some learning) practise easing the pressure on yourself.
Enhance your counselling session by trusting the process
This is much easier said than done but it’s really important to trust the process when it comes to the counselling services you utilise. Your qualified therapist is an expert in the counselling process and can often see the bigger picture especially when you aren’t able to. There may be things that you experience that feel uncomfortable but trusting that it is all happening as it should will have longterm gain.
Enhance your counselling session with pondering
One of the more delicious ways of embedding your learnings is to take time after your counselling session to ponder on the therapy work you undertook during your counselling services appointment or the discussions that were had. Taking a walk to think about it all or sitting at a coffee shop as you ponder before going back to your home or work environment (or “real life”) can be extremely helpful to integrate, process and help you remember all the key discoveries and breakthroughs.
Enhance your counselling session by keeping quiet
This may seem a little unusual but I recommend keeping your therapy sessions to yourself. There’s no shame in letting people know that you are seeking counselling but often when we share what happened during therapy it is quite hard to position it within context. If the person you share with is not interested or says something negative, it can dampen your enthusiasm or sow seeds of self doubt. Or it could even make you feel bad about your choice to share.
A counselling session is quite a sacred process and it is nice to keep the details to yourself so that the content of the therapy remains sacred and intact. It is a part of your own self care to keep these important moments of growth and understanding protected and only shared with those you absolutely trust: if and when you want to.
If you’d like some more ideas on how you can take responsibility for your own healing in between counselling sessions, please ask me during your next counselling appointment.