How to Gain The Most Benefit From A Psychotherapy Session

This article lists simple, practical and effective steps you can take to insure that your counseling or therapy experience results in the greatest benefit possible.

The decision to meet with a counselor or psychotherapist is not an idle investment of time, energy or money.  I've compiled this set of suggestions to help make the process to be as useful and meaningful as possible, based on my extensive professional experience in this field.

Taking just a few minutes with the following questions can help focus your time with a therapist to bring about the best possible outcome.  All good athletes "warm up" in order to perform their best, and that's what the following questions can do for you.  There's no need to write anything -- just reflect on them. 

  • What do you want to be different in your life? How come? 
  • How will you and other know the changes are happening?
  • What's a small marker to let you know you are making progress?
  • What positive changes have you already noticed since deciding to seek counseling?
  • If you only had one meeting with a therapist, what is most important to discuss?
  • What new skill or characteristic do you need to develop to reach and keep your goal?
  • What are your sources of assistance, support, positive influence or other similar benefits?
  • How does all this make sense to you? What do you think is going on?
  • If your current difficulty or concern revealed important life lessons, what might they be?
  • What do you need to remember to keep from sabotaging yourself from reaching your goal?
  • When, how, or in what ways is your life good at this moment?  What can you grateful for?

Also, I suggest that you make the following commitments and affirmations that will help you get the most out of your counseling experience.

  • Be honest. You always get to decide what to share and when to share it.  It helps to be as genuine as you can and to be willing to have some conversations you've never had before. 
  • Be ready and willing to look into yourself as well as addressing the situation that brings you to counseling.  
  • Allow for the possibility of using counseling to gain some of the most important insights of your life. It doesn't happen often, but it occurs more to people who do certain things.
  • This is similar to the above: big problems don't always need big solutions.  Accept that even a small improvement can have life-changing consequences.
  • It might seem obvious, but limit any alcohol or drug use before a counseling session to be as clear and responsive during your time.  
  • Take some time after your counseling session to reflect on it, and give yourself some support and encouragement for what you are doing.
  • Regularly engage in whatever actions are likely to help you carry forward any insights and momentum you gain in counseling.

If you take these simple steps you are likely to get the most benefit from the time, energy and money you are investing in a better life. 

If you want to start strong in counseling or psychotherapy, or if you want to insure that you and your therapist are addressing lifelong themes and important events contained in your life history, look over this list of questions about "your journey from birth to adulthood".  I will be glad to read it before our first meeting or at any time.


If I can provide more personal assistance to you, either in person, by phone or via Skype, please don't hesitate to contact me.