Display of active involvement. A woman engaged in her psychotherapy and online therapy

Unleash your full potential: the power of ACTIVE INVOLVEMENT in therapy

Big announcement! Your therapist isn’t a magician. Without active involvement in the therapy process, your chances of making progress are close to none.

Contrary to what you’ve seen in movies, there’s a lot more to therapy than sitting in front of your therapist and sharing your feelings. If you want to make real progress, you actually have to take ownership of the therapy process. Whether you are meeting your therapist in person or doing online therapy, you are still the one to implement the changes in your life.

Therapy is a journey

Psychotherapy is a journey, and like any journey, it requires the active participation of both the therapist and the patient. As a psychotherapist, I have seen many patients who are hesitant to engage fully in the therapeutic process.

They may feel uncomfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings, or they may be uncertain about how therapy can help them. I’ve even had patients invent stories to make me feel empathy for them. But by doing so, they are effectively wasting their time and not helping their well-being progress.

The characteristics of a good psychotherapy

According to a study published in 2020, the key components of successful therapy work revolve around the patient and are as follows:

  • A transparent and honest therapy process,
  • Ethical informed consent of the patient,
  • Acknowledging and strengthening the active role of patients in the course of psychotherapy,
  • Patients are actively involved in the decision-making process and during the entire process of psychotherapeutic treatment.

Take ownership of your wellbeing

Being an active participant in your therapy is essential to achieving your desired outcomes. Your therapist can help you understand your functioning and see your own patterns but your active involvement is the only way your therapist can assist you in making progress along your well-being journey.

You are the expert on your own life

While your therapist may have expertise in treating mental health issues and counseling patients, you are the expert on your own life. You know your own experiences, thoughts, and feelings better than anyone else. By being an active participant in your therapy, you can help your therapist understand your unique situation and tailor the treatment to your needs.

Therapy is a collaborative process

Psychotherapy is not something that is done to you, but rather something that is done with you. Your therapist can provide guidance and support, but ultimately, you are the one who has to make the changes. By being an active participant in your therapy, you can work together with your therapist to develop strategies that will help you overcome the challenges you are facing.

Change takes time and effort

Guess what, your situation didn’t happen in a day and likewise it won’t be fixed overnight. Psychotherapy is not a quick fix. Change takes time and effort, and it requires a commitment on your part. By being an active participant in your therapy, you can set objectives for yourself and work with your therapist to develop a plan to achieve those goals. You can also track your progress and make adjustments as needed.

Related: Demystifying anxiety attacks

Active involvement – making the most of your therapy session

Here’s the advice I give my patients to really maximize the work we do together and be an active participant in their therapy:

Be open and honest

Your therapist is there to help you, but they can only do so if you are open and honest with them. Share your thoughts and feelings, even if they are difficult or uncomfortable.

It’s ok to have awkward conversations or feel uneasy talking about certain topics. Be willing to feel awkward because it might be a sign that this is an important subject to discuss.

Set goals

Identify what you want to achieve from your therapy sessions, and work with your therapist to develop a plan to achieve those goals.

Be consistent

Attend your therapy sessions regularly and on time. Life happens and online therapy gives you the convenience to reschedule or cancel an appointment. However, it’s not with a once-in-a-while session that you will make progress. 

Consistency is key to achieving lasting change and noticing your progress will help you keep the momentum.

Be an active listener

Listen to your therapist’s guidance and feedback. Ask questions, seek clarification, and offer your own ideas and suggestions.

Disagree with your therapist? That’s ok. Explain why you don’t share their opinion and share your understanding of the situation or event. 

Practice what you learn

Your therapy sessions will provide you with tools and strategies to help you manage your thoughts and feelings. Practice what you learn outside of therapy, and incorporate it into your daily life.

Why active involvement is key for therapy – Takeaways

Being an active participant in your therapy is essential to achieving your desired outcomes. By working together with your therapist, setting goals, and being consistent, you can make the most of your therapy sessions and achieve lasting change.

Remember, therapy is a journey, and with commitment and effort, you can make progress toward a happier and healthier life.