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You are Part of Your Own Treatment

Mental health matters. If you’re reading this, you probably agree with that statement (or whoever pointed you here does). Regardless, when it comes to getting the most out of therapy and your desire to cultivate mindfulness into your everyday life, we have a few tips that will take your investment in mental healthcare from helpful to life-changing. And it all starts with your mindset.

Imagine a ship out at sea, the wind blowing the sails and leading through the chaotic, tumultuous, sometimes unforeseen waves. You are the captain of your own vessel, and how you position yourself (in this analogy, your sails) will dictate how the winds of change direct you through the ups and downs of life’s massive ocean. Think of therapy as the maintenance you are performing on your sails to better prepare you to navigate through life’s waves. Any upkeep is good and will help, but intentional maintenance on the specific areas most in need of attention can make all the difference. 

Relationships matter in life (we are communal creatures after all!). This goes for therapist/patient relationships as well – perhaps even more so as you have an active choice over who your therapist is and when you see them. Remember, even if your therapist isn’t the best fit for you, there’s no wrong door to the right therapy. The key is to recognize that the relationship is two-sided; your psychiatrist cannot “fix you” anymore than a nonexistent magic happy pill can. The mental health workforce is committed to helping you develop habits and implement behaviors steeped in mindfulness so that you can flourish in life no matter what waves come your way.

It is okay to disagree with your psychiatrist. That is part of the process! Your willingness to communicate and share what you are thinking or feeling in regards to your therapist’s observations or treatment plan will only increase your self-awareness and sharpen your therapist’s practices. Even as you remember that you are a terrible therapist for yourself, the flip side is that you are a self-expert. You know yourself in ways that a therapist never will be able to (just as they are trained to uncover more of your inner-workings that you may never realize are ready to be discovered). 

With this in mind, how do you actually set yourself up for success as a patient? Here is our list of tips to let mindful intentionality drive your actions:

  1. Show up
    • It always starts here. Choose to believe that you not only can feel better, but also that you are worth feeling better. And then let that belief carry you to actually be present (physically and mentally/emotionally). You’ve gotta show up to see the progress continue.
  2. Put in the work
    • One huge aspect of therapy is behavior modification, and this is exactly the piece that will carry you through your life outside of sessions to find healing and growth. To train our bodies, minds, and emotions to flourish, we must invest the energy in ourselves. The quick fixes won’t set you up for long-term health.
  3. Get a second opinion
    • This might seem counterintuitive, feeling like you’re going behind the back of your therapist to get another professional’s insight. But this is exactly how greater depth of growth is found! A second opinion can help you see a new perspective and offer both doctors a chance to sharpen their skills and understanding.
  4. Maintain realistic expectations
    • Embrace the journey. Revisit your Why regularly, and remember that your commitment to feeling better is a diving board into the sea of possibilities that your therapist is prepared to guide you through. Some healing will come quickly, but much will take time and effort on your end, so don’t try to rush it.
  5. Prioritize self-care daily
    • Consistency is key after all! Daily investment into yourself is how you build habits that will last a lifetime. You don’t have to spend 2 hours a day on your self-care routine. Just remember to slow down and take a moment each day to prepare your heart and mind to respond to the day with intentionality.
  6. Write down thoughts/moments to share at your next session
    • This is especially helpful for those of us that need help expressing or communicating our thoughts and feelings. Write down what you are thinking and feeling during the week, and present it to your therapist. This will also help you refrain from forgetting something that you felt you needed to process through!
  7. Let collaboration be your lens
    • The only way forward is together. By claiming this mantra, you will continue to grow and evolve into the person you want to be. Allow yourself to respond and be vulnerable to your therapist (after all, they are a trained and highly educated professional). As a team, you will get much farther than you could alone.
  8. Respect your therapist’s boundaries
    • Remember, therapists are humans too. Just like you, they have their own lives and loved ones and galaxies of emotions within them. Take care to remember that – even as they are committed to your health and wellness – they must also be allowed to detach as the constant caregiver. Burnout is detrimental to the mental health ecosystem and good boundaries protect us all.

As a practice management company, we encourage therapists/business owners to really focus their niche areas. The result: therapists working with people that align in their strengths. Being a “good” patient amplifies the outcome: feeling better, faster. Learn more at simplypsych.com.

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