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13 Things to Do Before, During, and After Therapy to Get the Most From Each Session

Emily Turner

I’m still relatively new to therapy, but already I’ve noticed how easy it is to get overwhelmed during my sessions. I have a few specific tendencies that get in my way: I want to say all the right things to my therapist and I get nervous about asking questions. Sometimes I get caught up in the session and forget about certain things I wanted to talk about or feel like I can’t fully take in all of the tips, tools, and nuggets of knowledge that my therapist is passing on to me. Overall, there’s a feeling of, “Am I doing this right?”, paired with a fear that I’m not.

Therapy can be overwhelming and discomforting, especially at first, and it’s normal to wonder if you’re making mistakes in your sessions (hint: you’re probably not). Still, it’s important to feel like you’re reaping the most benefits of each and every session, because

therapy typically doesn’t come cheap, and usually isn’t covered by health insurance companies either. More to the point, though, every therapy session is also a chance to make progress with your mental health. If you believe you’re leaving anything on the table during your sessions — not being as honest as possible, not leaving with as many takeaways as you’d like — then it might be worth refining your approach.

When it comes to squeezing all the juice out of each therapy appointment, no one can advise you better than therapists themselves. Check out their advice on what you can do before, during, and after your session to get the most possible benefit. One reminder before we jump in, though: There’s no “wrong” way to do therapy. If you’re in therapy, you’ve already taken a big first step toward addressing your mental health, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to somehow “perfect” this process. Think of these tips as ways to more fully experience and benefit from the work you’re already doing.

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