Going to therapy is a life-changing way to support your health, but let’s say you go once a week; that is one our out of the 168 hours in the week. What can you do during the other 167 hours a week when you’re not in the therapy chair?
Therapy is very helpful, and it can be an excellent place to learn new skills and gain insight into your patterns and relationships. Most of your time is spent outside of the therapy room and part of therapy is helping you learn new ways to cope with what’s happening outside of the therapy room, and the time between sessions is perfect for practicing that.
The work you do outside of the therapy room could be just as meaningful as what you do inside. Real life is where you are applying the lessons you have learned, using coping skills, and responding in new ways.
Therapy’s goal is to help improve your day to day life, and time in between sessions gives you time to reflect on what you discussed and process what you need to. Sometimes, what you may talk about in the therapy room can be pretty heavy and it is normal for that to weigh on you after sessions. It can take some time to process how you feel afterward.
There are endless options here, ask yourself what makes you feel fulfilled. Here are some suggestions to start with after your next therapy session:
Therapy involves processing a lot of thoughts, feelings, and experiences. When you don’t have the chance to express these out loud with a therapist, writing things down could be a substitute. Journal time gives you a chance to be really honest with yourself. A journal is also the perfect place to keep a list of what to discuss in your therapy sessions.
It can be hard to keep track of what happens in between sessions. Writing it down not only gives you a chance to remember to bring it up, but it can help you start down the road to processing your feelings about what’s going on.
The time in between sessions is the perfect time to implement some of what you talked about with your therapist. Is there a coping strategy you may want to practice? Is there a conversation you may be able to have with someone about something talked about in therapy? If your therapist had advice or insight for you, reflect on what they said and take their advice if a situation comes up where you can.
Make time to rest and recuperate between therapy sessions. Therapy can be intense. You work through a lot in the therapy room, and it’s important to your mental and physical health that you get enough rest. Rest is where your body and brain can repair itself.
What makes you feel most supported when you’re struggling? Below are just a few suggestions, five ways to practice self care after therapy.
It can be frustrating to feel like change isn’t happening as fast as we want it to. Mental health work can be slow going. Remind yourself of the shifts you do see, no matter how big or small. Did you handle something more effectively than you expected to? Have you practiced enforcing a boundary? Just attending your therapy session is an accomplishment in itself. Sticking with it is a huge deal! Remember to be proud of yourself for how far you’ve come since you started your therapy journey.
There are countless ways to help yourself in between therapy sessions between relaxation, reflection, etc. Give yourself time between each session to hone in on what was talked about, things you can practice, or what you may want to speak about next. It is all up to you and what you feel comfortable with!
Samantha Morel, Ph.D.