By Amy Berrafato, LMFT, CST
One of the words I say most often in session is intentional. In therapy, we create a safe, intentional space for clients to lean into emotions, difficult conversations, and vulnerability within thoughts and behaviors that need attention. As therapists, our hope in this experience is that we are planting seeds for how to create that intentional space at home, both for your own internal world and in your relationships with others.
I think we can address many relational issues with a bit of intentionality in one way or another. Being thoughtful about your words, actions, emotions, time, and energy takes you out of the daily grind of merely going through the motions. This includes therapy itself! Making the most out of your therapy sessions requires some thought and insight. Here are a few simple ways to do so:
Before you begin, take a moment to notice how you feel. An emotional pulse, if you will. How am I doing this week? What feelings came up for me? Any insights about my emotions?
Set an intention for session: What is on my mind and in my heart today?
In couples work, it helps to fill your partner in on your intention before session, to avoid any surprises in the room. It can help you both feel united upon getting started.
As you leave, remind your partner that you’re in this together. Hold hands for a moment, or have a quick hug or kiss in the hallway. It’s important to remember that you’re connected, even when working through something.
Show up. I mean really show up. Being physically present on the couch is not the same as being emotionally present in therapy. Do the work in between sessions. Think about your goals when you’re at home stuck in that fight again. Write some things down to keep you mentally on track.
Be patient. Fully engaging in therapy is a process that takes time to develop. Remember that long-term change doesn’t happen overnight. Trust yourself, and you will start to feel some momentum internally.