Often during my “New to therapy” series I have mentioned moments where you, the client, are encouraged to use your own voice. Having been in therapy myself in the past, I promise I understand what a daunting task I have placed in front of you by encouraging you to be your own expert and to use your autonomy, even in the therapy room. Despite the fear or anxiety this concept might cause, I do it for good reason. I encourage it because good therapy takes two people.

Looking through PsychologyToday for a therapist, you may have noticed a recurring theme. A therapist that promises to “tailor their technique to each client” — I even have it in my own profile, and it isn’t an empty promise. I believe that therapy does the best work when both parties (clinician and client) are working harmoniously. To tailor a technique to someone you need to understand them and know what works best for them. If I have clients who enjoy drawing or writing, you best believe that I incorporate those things in session. It keeps my clients engaged and it’s already a tried a true way that a client’s brain can process information.

Our brains are a lot like our fingerprints, they are totally and completely unique. Brains are covered in grooves and divots (both metaphorically and literally) which are formed by our experiences, perspectives, thoughts, and beliefs. All these things can affect the effectiveness of the tools and coping skills that therapists will teach you. Throughout the course of therapy, you will try many new things, and not all of them are going to work. That’s okay. For your therapist to know, you have to tell them. Tell them which homework assignments rang true, and if any parts didn’t work as well, let them know that too. If you didn’t understand a concept or technique, say so, have the clinician say it a different way or provide an example. A good therapist won’t have hurt feelings, because you made sure that your treatment was working for you.

While you are in the therapy room, let your clinician know if there is anything they are doing that takes away from the experience. Perhaps it’s a noise they make, a “mmhmm” or a throat clearing that distracts you from your train of thought. Maybe they frequently use a spiritual example for you to relate to, and it doesn’t land well because you practice a different religion, or no religion at all. Make your therapist aware of things they do that impact your treatment.

Using your voice in therapy doesn’t mean that you yell or hurt feelings, just that you are involving yourself in the journey. I’ve said it before, and I will never stop saying it: you are your own best expert. When you are in the therapy room you are going to be the first, and often only, person who knows what’s working and what isn’t. It is okay to say something to ensure that the treatment you are receiving is the exact right fit for you. As always, we wish you the best on your journey and we are happy to have you here with us! Good luck!



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