With the onset of the pandemic, most counseling switched over to a virtual platform, rather than in-office services. As vaccines have become available and the world has slowly reopened, people are now able to take advantage of the benefits of in-person counseling again.
As you head back into the office or start for the first time, here are some tips so that you can get the most out of in-person counseling.
Reflect on your week beforehand
Now that you’ll be commuting to an office, use that time wisely and review the past week. Consider your stressors, any major changes or something you want to circle back to from a previous session.
When we don’t take the time to reflect, we might only bring up issues of the current day and forget to bring up important issues. Use the drive to think back or jot down notes throughout the week to bring up in therapy.
Allow yourself to be expressive
One of the best things about in-person services is that your counselor will be able to pick up on all your non-verbal communication. Maybe you were shaking your leg under the table or your hands were fidgety – things that can’t always be noticed even with video conferencing.
Your counselor uses these visual clues to pick up on how you’re feeling about a certain subject and the more she is able to read your emotions, the better she can help you. Remember that when you go back into the office you’re not only allowed to be expressive, it’s encouraged.
Take advantage of your time in counseling. After all, this is your journey of self-exploration as you learn to manage and overcome mental health challenges. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, bring up different topics or gear the conversation in a new direction.
Therapy is typically client-led, so feel free to take the initiative in sessions. Your counselor isn’t the only one who can dissect your behavior and think of possible solutions to problems. In fact, asking questions is a great way to feel empowered in the therapeutic process.
Counseling isn’t easy. Think of it as a workout – it’s tough and tiresome at the moment, but the effort results in benefits that are well worth the discomfort. When you participate in counseling you can expect that you’ll be challenged, but your mental health and overall wellbeing will improve from it.
A lot of therapy focuses on changing thought processes and behavior, and change can be hard. Letting go of old habits and forming new skills doesn’t happen overnight, either. But challenging yourself to work hard is one of the best ways to maximize the benefits of in-person counseling.
Do your homework
In order to make the most of your in-person counseling sessions, you’ll have to put in the work outside of the office, too. You’ll often be assigned tasks, worksheets or exercises to practice in between sessions to support your treatment.
Being intentional about the time and energy you spend on your homework can accelerate your treatment success. Doing the work on your own not only addresses mental health concerns but builds skills like time management and organization.
Set realistic expectations
Counseling isn’t a miracle cure for most people. The best benefits of in-person counseling come slowly after lots of hard work. Although counseling has been proven to reduce symptoms and increase wellbeing, even at your healthiest you’ll still encounter problems and difficulties.
Having realistic expectations of yourself, your counselor and the process itself will allow you to see your successes without getting frustrated when they come slowly. You’re best equipped to meet your goals when they are attainable and you don’t put unhealthy pressure on yourself to meet unrealistic standards.
When you are in-person for counseling sessions (or in-person for any interaction) you can’t quickly escape when things get awkward and pretend the Wi-Fi glitched. If you are uncomfortable with your counselor for any reason and feel that the relationship isn’t a good fit, it’s OK to say so.
In the same vein, if your counselor comes across as distracted, judgmental, negative or untrustworthy, speak up. Mental health professionals have off days too, but if it’s interfering with your session or happens repeatedly don’t be afraid to address it and make the necessary changes.
The number one tip for getting the most benefits out of your in-person counseling is to get started as soon as possible. When you’re struggling with mental health concerns, each day spent without counseling adds unnecessary distress to your plate.
Mazzitti & Sullivan Counseling can offer you the help you need. It all starts with a phone call, then Mazzitti & Sullivan will pair you up with a professional best suited to your needs. Call 800-809-2925 today to get started with in-person counseling.