Journeying Toward Wholeness

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How to Get the Most Out of Therapy

July 19th, 2021 · how to get the most out of therapy

A lot of people wonder if they should go into therapy, and also wonder how to get the most out of therapy, if they do. Can therapy help me, and how can I make the best use of the opportunities therapy provides?

PHOTO: Stock Photo Secrets

The precise answer to these questions is going to vary a bit, depending on the type of therapy you decide to do. To make cognitive behavioural therapy or dialectical behavioural therapy work for you will require some different things than will be needed to make Jungian depth psychotherapy effective. Yet there are a surprising number of things that they have in common. What follows is a list of some of the most important things that you need to really make good use of therapy.

Connect Well with Your Therapist (or Analyst)

This is downright essential. Therapy or analysis is not a cookie cutter thing, where everyone goes to therapy in the same way, has the same relationship with the same therapist, and comes out with the same standardized result. There has to be a “good fit” between the client and the therapist. For instance, if a client wants a very structured experience, with a lot of input and feedback, he or she will probably want a different therapist than the client who looks to the therapist to basically hold space and listen. Finding a therapist whose personality you can connect with, and whose therapeutic and interpersonal style and whose view of the goals of therapy fit with your own is essential to the therapeutic process.

Have a Good Therapy “Container”

Jungian depth psychotherapists, in particular, emphasize that, for therapy to be successful, it needs a good “container”. They mean several things by this. Firstly, the therapy has to be and to feel safe. The client has to feel that her/his personal material is going to be confidential. More than that, the client needs to feel that the therapist will treat their personal revelations with a deep sense of respect that is nonjudgmental, affirming and curious in a way that is positive to the client. It’s essential that the client feel that he or she can be open and honest, and that the therapist will be careful with the precious things that the client reveals. This is especially true where the client is bringing forward material from the unconscious, such as dreams or fantasies, as these need to be handled extremely respectfully.

Maintain the Rhythm

As Emory’s Prof. Jennice Vilhauer asserts, scientific research shows that if therapy is going to be effective, it needs to be relatively frequent, and it needs to go on for a length of time. There’s a clear indication that not much gets accomplished in therapy unless there are about 20 sessions at roughly a weekly frequency, or more, over a longer time. Clearly, for much bigger things, considerably more therapy may be required. And for an ongoing process of comprehensive growth like Jungian analysis when a client is going through a major life transition, a regular rhythm has to be created over a longer time.

Live Out Your Insights; Put Some Trust in the Process

An important learning about how to get the most out of therapy is to take action on the insights that come up for you in the course of therapy. In Jungian circles, the Jungian analyst Toni Woolf, one of Jung’s associates, was famous for this. When people had an insight, or an interpretation of a dream brought a new perspective, she would bluntly ask her clients “Well, what are you going to do about it?”, or words to that effect.

(PHOTO: Stock Photo Secrets)

And, in fact, doing something about insights in therapy, or possibilities of action that you and your therapist identify can do a lot to make therapy more effective. Put into action what you learn. Keeping a journey of insights from therapy can be incredibly helpful in this way. To make therapy work, it has to be more than just talking: you have trust the process enough to “translate” the insights into real action steps and attitude changes in the outer world.

Thinking carefully about how to get the most out of therapy can make a very important contribution to your overall growth through therapy and your journey towards wholeness. If you really intentionally engage with the therapy process, it can make a great deal of difference.

Wishing you every good thing on your personal journey,

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional

Certified Telemental Health Practitioner


© 2021 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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