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Engaging in therapy is an important step for your wellbeing, now and in the future. Like most things, you can get this working for you to a greater or lesser extent.
These notes are general - everyone’s circumstances are unique but you can use the resource of therapy best if you are actively engaged and willing to challenge yourself to develop new skills and new insights.
One of the best ways to use your therapy is to reflect on each session and inquire deeply into your own thoughts and feelings for patterns that have become unconscious or set.
We are constantly changing and adapting to our environment. With skill we can learn to optimize the forces that work towards our growth and help us develop more towards the kind of person we want to be.
You may, for example, want to go to a quiet place after your session and reflect on what has come up and what you may want to challenge more, what you may be able to change, and perhaps where you need to actually let go and accept. It is often beneficial to keep a journal to document and explore your lessons, goals, questions and issues.
The therapy situation is a special situation where you have the opportunity to examine your internal psychological processes with the aid of someone experienced in the area of psychological processes.
You may find some inquiries confronting and difficult but this should always be in the service of your growth and wellbeing.
As a therapist I am committed to helping you work towards your healing goals. If there are any areas you think should be explored, always feel free to discuss these with me. Similarly I will always respect your choice to moderate your pace of self-exploration so that you can integrate material that arises.
Whether you choose to delve into any of the reading associated with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or any other topic that may be of interest or relevance, is entirely up to you. Some people find this a useful adjunct to therapy, and others find it distracting. It is really a matter of personal preference. Some people find they work better once they gain an intellectual understanding and others find they get bogged down in the ideas.
It is important to note that an intellectual understanding can also be a hindrance as too much ‘head work’ can keep you disconnected and avoidant of some of the big issues. Personal breakthroughs largely come from experience along with reflection on those experiences. The therapy sessions provide an opportunity to explore issues through the experience of the encounter with the therapist - this provides the ground for the work. If you find your progress is enhanced through the reading by all means use it but at the same time do not feel compelled to do so.
About "homework" (ie, behavioural experiments)
Inside our sessions, you will be supported to try out new skills of "psychological flexibility". But your life isn't lived in the therapy room. Practising your new skills in real life situations will often feel uncomfortable. And is essential for learning. This is the point of "homework". The only way you can truly know for yourself whether a new pattern of behaviour works for you, whether it works to help you build the sort of life you want to be living, is to try it out. Do an experiment. See what happens. Your mind will make predictions. Sometimes those predictions come true. Often they do not. What will you trust - your mind? Or your experience? When you've experimented with something new, we will explore what happened in our next session. If you didn't do the experiment that you'd intended to do, that will also be something to explore.
From your psychologist, Jennifer Grant