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Making the decision to pursue therapy can lead to life-changing results. Whether you choose to do it in person or online, therapy gives you an opportunity to understand yourself better to improve your mental health. You just need to take the right steps to get the most out of it or make your journey as rewarding or healing as possible
One key to making therapy work is putting in the work yourself. This means showing up to your sessions and staying committed to both yourself and the process. While it is true that therapy is hard work with lots of ups and downs, the payoff is worth it. This is especially true once you learn to process your emotions and learn better ways to cope.
Continue reading as we explain therapy in furthers and provide tips on how to get the most out of therapy.
Know and trust that online therapy works
Living in a past-faced society has made it difficult for a lot of people to find time to prioritize their mental well-being. Online therapy has made mental health support more accessible, allowing clients to start and continue their appointment anywhere they are with a stable internet connection.
And online therapy works! It is backed by research, with studies showing that it can be as effective as face-to-face therapy for mental health conditions. A 2018 study review also found teletherapy to be effective and acceptable for anxiety disorders (social anxiety and general anxiety disorder), panic disorder, and major depression.
Internet-based therapy is also found to be effective in treating and preventing gambling problems, according to this 2019 study. A meta-analysis of more than 50 studies, furthermore, found that both in-person therapy and videoconferencing therapy sessions were equally beneficial to patients.
Online therapy, of course, is not for everyone, especially those that require in-person care or have more serious mental health illnesses. Text messaging, which is offered by many service providers, however, may be helpful for patients with schizophrenia to adhere to their medication plan, according to this 2012 pilot trial.
Take advantage of what online therapy can offer
The benefits of online therapy go beyond accessibility or eliminating barriers. As you don’t have to commute to your therapist’s office, you can save time and money, as well as reduce the anxiety associated with getting dressed or fighting the traffic.
- Cost – Online therapy is also more affordable than in-person sessions, with some providers offering payment and subscription plans. Calmerry, for instance, is a good option for cost-conscious clients at $50 to $74 per week. There is also BetterHelp, which offers text, audio, and live messaging for $60 to $90 per week.
- Less anxiety – With online therapy, there is no need to worry about seeing someone you know at your therapist’s office. You can schedule and attend your sessions online. There is also the option to choose the mode of communication you’re most comfortable with like audio or text message if video sessions make you feel anxious.
- A range of messaging/communication tools – Many online teletherapy platforms offer a variety of ways to communicate with your counselor. There is video conferencing, audio messaging, email, and texting. Some methods, of course, work better in certain instances, like video sessions for more intense conversations, compared to text or audio.
Know the goals you want to achieve
One of the most important teletherapy tips for clients is identifying what you want and hope to achieve with your therapy. This topic is usually discussed during the initial consultation, so it is advisable to have some idea of the issues you’re dealing with or what you want to see as a result of your sessions.
Are you struggling with low self-esteem or negative self-talk and want to challenge/shift your perspective? Or do you have unhealed wounds or past trauma that you want to resolve to be able to move forward with life? Or are you suffering from anxiety and depression and want to learn new and healthier methods of coping?
It can also be helpful to jot down your reasons and goals, as well as your concerns and questions. Doing so allows both you and your therapist to work toward shared goals, or create the treatment plan that suits you best. This can also make your sessions as productive as possible.
Be realistic with your expectations
As previously mentioned, therapy is hard work. It involves challenges and ups and downs as you work through yourself and your feelings. There may also be instances where it feels incredibly healing and times when it seems like nothing is happening or changing.
One important tip for getting the most out of therapy is maintaining realistic expectations. You cannot expect your therapist to tell you how to improve your life after just a few sessions. As change or recovery is never linear, expect highs and lows and that sometimes things get worse before they get better. Therapy, furthermore, requires patience and staying flexible and curious.
Honesty is the best policy if you want to get the most out of therapy. Unfortunately, it is common for most people to lie to their therapists. In fact, according to a 2015 survey of more than 500 psychotherapy patients, 93% reported having lied at least once. These lies also include half- or partial-truths, exaggerating, minimizing, and lies by omission.
The thing with lying or not being entirely truthful is that it defeats the purpose of therapy. It also prevents you from reaching your goals and your therapist from actually helping you. Finding the courage to be honest can be hard at first, but it is important to view your therapy as a safe place.
There are cases, however, where you may feel that your therapist isn’t a good match. Building a good relationship, of course, takes time, but your therapist should always make you feel comfortable about asking anything that comes to mind. If you feel shamed or dismissed about sharing something, it is probably time to part ways and find a new one.
Show up and be present in your sessions
One great tip on how to get the most out of therapy is to be fully committed to the entire process. This means showing up on time and being mentally present during your sessions. Allow your thoughts and feelings to flow through, but don’t forget to slow down and reflect on what those emotions are telling you.
To make the most of it, don’t just rush when answering questions or engage in any habits that may leave you stressed or not in the best state to undergo counseling. Schedule therapy when you have time to prepare before and reflect after the session.
It is also easier to be fully present and emotionally available when you don’t have to get back to work or do anything after the therapy. Also, the sessions only last between 45 to 50 minutes, so try to dedicate that time to yourself and the process. Turn off all devices and stay focused on yourself.
Be prepared to do the work
This is one of the most important tips for therapy, as the work is not done after your sessions. Some therapists assign between-session activities to practice what you’ve learned in the real world. These assignments, which may include practicing breathing exercises or journaling, allow you to recognize the real change that happens outside your sessions.
And even if your counselor doesn’t assign those things, it is still helpful to put in the extra work. Journaling about your feelings, for instance, is found to be effective in reducing mental distress among adults with elevated anxiety. Keeping track of the things you’ve discussed or learned in therapy can also be helpful when reflecting later on.
See therapy as a collaboration
Therapy is a two-way street. It is important to view it as a collaboration, instead of expecting the process to tell you this or that. You have the responsibility of opening up and talking about your struggles, traumas, or distressing feelings, with your therapist guiding every session to help you reach your goals.
- Reflect on the process – How are your sessions going? Have you noticed changes in your awareness, thoughts, and understanding? What strategies do you think are working and not working?
- Ask questions and voice your concerns – If something’s not clear about what you’ve discussed in your sessions, ask your therapist for clarification. Ask questions about the strategy for the sessions and how you will do the work together.
- Make schedules easy to stick to – Let your therapist know if your session time or schedule is inconvenient or difficult to adhere to. You can reschedule or try other modes of communication that work best for your situation.
Engage in self-care between sessions
As counseling sessions can sometimes bring up a lot of distressing feelings or uncover repressed emotions, it is normal to feel tired or emotionally drained after. A great tip for therapy is to be kind to yourself and set aside time to recuperate between sessions. Rest, listen to soothing music, or reward yourself with a book or your favorite meal.
It is also best not to schedule anything big or major before and after a therapy session. This may include meetings, conferences, presentations, or any event that may leave you feeling anxious or overwhelmed. It makes more sense to give yourself about 30 minutes to reflect on the sessions or take notes of the things you’ve discussed or learned.
Know when it’s time to leave or wrap up
Therapy does work and numerous studies have proved this. If you’ve been committed to yourself and the process and noticed that you are on your way to reaching your goals, it may be the time to wrap up. Talk to your therapist about it instead of drawing out the sessions for too long.
When you reach your goals and are satisfied with the progress you made, you may want to end your therapy, unless you found a new reason to go through with it. It makes sense to reflect on your progress to make sure that your therapy is going in the direction you want it to.
Of course, there are also cases where your therapy isn’t really working after several sessions. Talk to your therapist about it rather than deciding not to show up or stop returning calls or texts. There are instances where your therapist may even agree with you or refer you to another professional who they think may be the right fit.
Here are some signs you may be ready to stop therapy.
- You are able to regulate your emotions and cope with the challenges on your own.
- You’ve reached your goals.
- There is no vibe or connection with your therapist.
- There is a lack of experience.
- Your therapist is not respectful of your beliefs and values.
- You want to switch to a therapist who specializes in another type of therapy (like from cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT to dialectical behavioral therapy or DBT).
- You’ve reached a plateau or your therapy is getting nowhere.
Getting started with online therapy
If you’re considering online therapy and wondering which service providers might be suited for you, check out this review/comparison of the best platforms. Here is also a sneak peek of the features of some of the best online therapy platforms out there.
|Platform||Cost||INSURANCE||Modes of Communication||What’s special about it|
|Calmerry||$50-$74 per week||No||Text messaging and live video sessions||The most affordable provider with vetted therapists; attracts highly qualified therapists|
|BetterHelp||$60-$90 per Week||No||Text, audio, video and live messaging||Simple and convenient process and get matched within 48 hours|
|Talkspace||$69-$129 per week||Yes||Text, video, or audio messaging, and live sessions||You can choose your own therapist or switch therapists at no extra cost|
|Cerebral||$85-$325 per month||Yes||Text, video, and phone sessions||Offers prescriptions and medication delivery|
|Amwell||$109–$129 per session||Yes||Audio and video sessions||Offers mental and physical health services, and accepts multiple insurance plans|
|Pride Counseling||$60-$90 per week||No||Live messaging, live phone sessions, and live video sessions||Specifically developed for the LGBTQ+ community, with therapists that specialize in the community|
|Teen counseling||$60-$90 per week||No||Live chat, live phone sessions, and live video sessions||A good option for teenagers, 13 to 19 years old|
If you want to read a more comprehensive assessment of Calmerry, BetterHelp, Cerebral, and other online therapy providers, read our review. We list the pros and cons of each provider, the issues they treat, as well as the session types they offer, and how each platform works to help you make an informed decision.
Start your journey to your best self
We all experience stress, hardships, and chaos that can disrupt our lives. Getting through them can sometimes be overwhelming, which is why it may be time to get the help of a therapist. Finding the right one and fully committing to the process can help you achieve and maintain balance in life.
If you decide to take the plunge and undergo online counseling, take advantage of all the resources out there. Get the most out of your therapy with the tips mentioned above, and always stay open, curious, and flexible during the entire process.
I have a Master’s and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. I have 20 plus years of experience helping people solve problems of stress, anxiety, and depression associated with relationships, spiritual and changes-in-life issues, addictions, incarceration, emotional, physical, and sexual abuseRead more