You know you can trust your therapist, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to talk to them.
If you’re struggling through some hard times in your life, being vulnerable with someone you don’t know might seem like the last thing you should do. But building a relationship with a therapist can be incredibly valuable.
Take a look at these seven tips that’ll help you learn to be more open in therapy.
1. Write Your Thoughts Down
If it’s hard for you to be open with your therapist during your sessions, writing down things you want to address can be an effective strategy. In the days leading up to your session, write down ideas as they come to you. These ideas might include past events you want to mention, relevant thoughts, and questions you need help answering.
You can also write a note to your therapist before your first appointment. Explain a bit about who you are, why you’re looking for their help, and the goals you’d like to reach. This gives your therapist a chance to understand you. It starts to form your relationship before you meet.
It can also be helpful to keep a therapy journal. As you talk to your therapist about deep topics, you can keep track of the discussion in writing. Doing this can give you a way to reflect on your session and stay accountable implementing necessary techniques in your daily life.
2. Let Your Therapist Lead You
Your therapist’s job is to help you on your road to recovery. Allow them to guide you through the healing process. Though you should come prepared for your therapy sessions (which we’ll talk about below), you can let your therapist lead the conversation.
Remember, you don’t have to sit and talk non-stop for an hour. Instead, you’ll have a back and forth conversation. They can’t give you all the answers you’re looking for, but they can teach you skills and provide you with tools to help you find them yourself.
3. Start Small and Take It Slow
For many people, it’s easier to talk about topics that aren’t as vulnerable. So if you have trouble opening up to your therapist, start with some of these small topics instead. This will allow you to get more comfortable with your therapist.
You can always ask them to explain their confidentiality policy to you. Remember, you can share almost anything with your therapist, and they won’t judge you. They’ll listen to you with an open mind, be there for you, and help you get through the hard spots in your life.
This type of relationship comes with a lot of advantages. But if you need to, start small. Work your way up to the big topics. It’s okay to take your time and get comfortable with your therapist.
4. Have Realistic Expectations
Therapy isn’t about keeping your therapist entertained. A constructive therapy session helps you develop positive mental health so you can live a happy life.
Don’t make yourself seem more “broken” than you are. You don’t have to impress your therapist with a tragic life story. At the same time, you shouldn’t safeguard yourself or downplay your struggles.
Doing either of these things won’t allow you to reap the full advantages of a therapy session. Instead of trying to make your therapist see you in a certain way, focus on being yourself.
5. Prepare Yourself for Each Session
Schedule your therapy sessions during times you won’t be distracted. Sometimes, putting your therapy back to back with other activities, such as school or work, can leave you with residual stress or anxiety. This can make your sessions harder than they need to be.
If you start to feel overwhelmed before or during a therapy appointment, remind yourself why you’re there and what you’re trying to accomplish. Your session will go the best if you can put yourself in a calm environment beforehand.
Your therapy takes work.
You prepare yourself for normal work and other activities, so you should prepare yourself for therapy too. Know what you want to talk about during your session before you get there. If you prepare for your session, the conversation will be easier and less intimidating.
6. Always Be Honest
Don’t keep things from your therapist. If you have a hard week, don’t pretend the week was fine. If the last few days were great, let them know.
Some therapist will give you work to complete at home on your own time. Let them know if you didn’t have time to complete the work or if it was difficult to get through. They might adjust it or give you other strategies to help.
Your therapist isn’t there to boss you around. They won’t get angry if you don’t finish your work. So there’s no reason to hide it from them. They want to help you, and if something isn’t working, they’ll find a different way to do it.
Everyone’s life is different. So don’t worry about doing anything wrong.
7. Tell Your Therapist About the Problem
It might seem hard to tell your therapist you have trouble being open if being vulnerable is already the main problem. But one of the top contributors to successful therapy sessions is a trusting relationship between the therapist and the patient.
Telling your therapist you have a hard time talking about yourself and your experiences will let them understand you. This will also allow them to come up with strategies that will help you.
As you work through topics with your therapist, you can build up your confidence.
How to Be More Open in Therapy
Being prepared for your therapy session is one of the most helpful ways to become more open in therapy.
Take some time before your appointment to write down topics you want to discuss or questions you’ve been struggling with. Be honest about your experiences. Remember, you don’t have to talk the entire time. Your therapist wants to help you, and they’ll lead the conversation.
Do you need some help working through hard times in your life? Take a look at how trauma therapy can help you.