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Preparing for Psychological Therapy

Preparing for Your Therapy Appointment

Different people want different things out of therapy. Being clear about the reasons you are choosing to undertake therapy can help you prepare for a successful therapeutic experience. Before your appointment, you may want to consider

  • what you want to get out of therapy – what are your ‘objectives’? What do you want to achieve? Try to be realistic and specific – wanting ‘to be happy’ or ‘never to feel down again’ need to be defined.
  • how might you achieve your goals? Your appointment is time set aside for you to identify what you need to improve your mental wellbeing (within the parameters of ethical therapeutic practice)
  • what do you need to talk through/ think aloud about/ understand better?

To check you are prepared to engage in your therapy appointment, you may think about

  • your willingness to engage in the process of therapy. Sometimes it can be challenging, sometimes cathartic, sometimes revealing, sometimes demanding – sometimes it's a combination of all of these and more – are you up for it?
  • your desire to change something to improve your mental well-being. What challenges your desire to change, ie what might stop you making changes? What encourages you to wish to change, what can help you to make changes?
  • Your willingness to talk about yourself, your feelings, your life experiences?

To prepare to undertake your therapy appointment it may be useful to

  • write things down either in a journal format or a thought-scatter diagram.
  • practise defining how much you feel something, for example, on a scale of 1 to 10 how happy/sad/anxious/depressed/etc do you feel at any given moment?
  • monitor your thoughts and behaviours closely to prepare yourself for undertaking your appointment as this will develop your self-awareness
  • develop your ‘emotional literacy’ ie practise thinking about what you’re feeling and finding a way to describe it
  • read self-help books and resources to get you thinking about your issues

It is important to note that none of the above is essential before your appointment, but they might help you to prepare and get the most out of your opportunity.

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