For people entering treatment for addiction, they are putting themselves in a new environment that is supportive of their recovery but also makes them confront issues they haven’t dealt with in the past. Many addicts in early recovery are starting to attend therapy sessions for the first time in their lives. They may never have felt comfortable enough to talk with someone so openly about their problems and especially about their disease. It is natural to experience feelings of resistance and struggle to discuss extremely personal matters with a therapist.
At first, it can be a challenge to understand and articulate your emotions when you are in the presence of a stranger even though they may be a compassionate and experienced counselor. If you want to get more out of your counseling sessions here are some important tips to keep you engaged so that you benefit as much as possible in therapy.
1. Prepare for Each Session
If you don’t take the time to reflect and prepare for your counseling sessions you might not know what to say or feel disconnected from what you are talking about. Preparing for each session can help you make sure that you know what topics are most important to discuss at a particular time. It can give you the chance to tap into whatever emotions you are currently dealing with so that you are able to talk about them more freely with your therapist.
2. Let the Therapist Guide You
Some people may go into a counseling session and out of nervousness will chatter in detail about topics that are not the most relevant to their recovery. Sometimes it is a good idea to let the therapist guide the session and listen to their feedback or questions carefully. It is important to take in everything they say and put their advice to use in your daily life. They are there to provide you with the techniques and strategies you will need to understand your emotions and cope with your disease in more effective ways.
3. Write Things Down and Do Your Homework
Keeping a journal and writing down your thoughts and emotions before and after each therapy session can help you process everything you go through in counseling. Documenting your experiences can allow you to see the progress that you make throughout recovery. If your therapist gives you “homework” to do or some type of exercise to help you practice something you’ve learned then take the time in between sessions to stay engaged in your work in therapy.
4. Reset Your Expectations
People may sometimes have certain preconceived ideas of how their recovery will go or what their counseling experience will be like. You should reset your expectations so that you do not get frustrated if you feel like you aren’t making the type of rapid progress that you had hoped to initially. You should expect things to be tough and uncomfortable at times but ultimately rewarding for your mental health and your ability to stay sober. Changing your expectations and going with the flow can keep you from wanting to quit when things become more challenging.
5. Take Care of Yourself Emotionally
Throughout your therapy sessions, there are plenty of painful emotions that can and probably will arise. Facing your own feelings of guilt, shame, depression, or failure can be mentally exhausting and wear you down. You need to have compassion for yourself and take care of yourself emotionally so that you don’t burn out. Give yourself a break once in a while to be refreshed between all of your hard work in counseling.